Cabinet set to discuss ICC arrest warrant for President Putin, his visit to SA in August

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The Cabinet is expected to discuss legal advice compiled by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation on the warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, as it will affect the possible visit of President Putin to South Africa later this year.

Pretoria as the chair of BRICS has invited President Putin to attend the summit in August.

This is not the first time South Africa has found itself in such a situation. South Africa had to deal with the challenge of an International Criminal Court warrant of arrest issued against a sitting head of state during the African Union summit in 2015.

In 2009, then-Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was indicted by the court for atrocities committed in Darfur. Al Bashir denied the charges.

As a State Party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, South Africa was under a duty to arrest Al Bashir.

Ahead of the AU summit, a human rights organisation had threatened to go to court if Bashir was allowed to attend. However, Pretoria had argued that Bashir was attending the AU summit and South Africa cannot dictate who should attend.

The human rights body brought an application to the North Gauteng High Court to compel the government to arrest Bashir.

Before the court could rule, Bashir left the country. The court later ruled that South Africa has a responsibility to cooperate with the ICC.

The government later challenged that court ruling, but lost.