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Isa Soares Tonight

International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant for President Putin for Allegedly Deporting Children; Chinese and Russian Presidents to Meet in Moscow Next Week; Second NATO Member Pledges Jets To Ukraine; ICC Issues Arrest Want For Russian President Putin. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 17, 2023 - 15:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN HOST: You have been watching my colleagues in the U.S. interview the president there, of the ICC, I'm Christina Macfarlane in

London. We want to continue our coverage of the ICC's decision to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of his top

officials. We want to get some reaction now from our reporters around the world.

Senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson is in Kharkiv tonight, and CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is with me in London.

Ivan, I want to go to you first. We had just been hearing there from the president of the ICC, that the reason they moved to make President Putin's

arrest warrant public was because it was a signal to the world that the ICC were doing their job. How has this news been received in Kyiv today?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been applauded. The Ukrainians have been wanting the Russian government at the highest levels

to be prosecuted. And they are reacting with statements basically saying that this is just the first step recall. There is still a deadly war going

on as we speak. Take a listen to an excerpt from what the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had to say about the ICC's announcement.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact

their relatives, hiding children in Russia, dispersing them to remote regions, all this is obvious Russian state policy, state decisions and

state evil. Which begins with the first official of the state.


WATSON: And I think that's important to highlight. The Ukrainian government says that more than 16,000 children, it believes, have been taken to Russia

and is calling for them to be returned. Now Moscow, Christina, has responded by basically saying that Russia is not under the jurisdiction of

the International Criminal Court. It is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.

And the statements coming from everybody, from Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, to the foreign ministry, is to say that this arrest warrant

is null and void. It's absurd, and then we have a statement from Maria Lvova-Belova; who is kind of the children's rights official in the Kremlin,

who is also named in the arrest warrant along with Vladimir Putin, who has done an awful lot, a very public work where she's actually escorting

Ukrainian children from Ukrainian-Russian-occupied territory to Russia.

Very publicly talking about the adoption of these children by Russian families. She says she's even adopted one of those children herself from

the shattered city of Mariupol. And she responded by saying quote, "it's great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the

children of our country. Now we do not leave them in the war zones."

Left out here is the fact that this part of the world wouldn't have become a war zone if it hadn't been for Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the first

place a little bit more than a year ago, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Ivan, thank you. I just want to pick up on what you've been saying there about Moscow's reaction and the ramifications, Nic, for what

this will spell for Putin. And we heard Ivan talking there about the Rome Statute, which is meant to bind the signatories into action when enforcing

these ICC warrants. Is that going to work in practice, how restricted in reality is Putin's travel and his ability to move around going to become?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and we heard the judge there saying a 123 different nations have signed up to the Rome

Statute, so they're on board with the ICC, if Putin lands in their country, they're obligated under international law to arrest him and transfer him to

The Hague.


So there's that part of it, and then there's a reality that Putin won't go to those countries. But this is a leader who loves striding the world

stage. Being a huge -- being the leader of a huge global power, you know, permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. He likes to be able to go to

the U.N. to speak. A member of the G20, G20 leaders summit this year in India. Will he go? It's not clear.

He likes those forums. He likes the power and influence. Now, there are 123 countries that he can't stride the globe and go to. So whatever they say

inside the Kremlin to dismiss the significance, there is a hard reality to it. And that -- he's going to know that he's going to know he can't set

foot in Europe.

MACFARLANE: Yes, interesting to see the graphic we just put out there as well, showing the spread of signatories across the world. Ivan, we already

know, that alongside forcibly removing children, there's been extensive attacks on civilians, on maternity wards, on children's schools. How likely

is it do you think that this is going to be just the beginning of the arrest warrants that we're going to be seeing from the ICC?

WATSON: That's certainly what Ukrainian officials are saying. And you know, the ICC, this is one organization that is now pursuing prosecution of

Vladimir Putin himself. But the Ukrainian government is trying to do this as well. Russia is not just fighting the Ukrainian military. It is fighting

the Ukrainian state. So, every time Russian shells and rockets and missiles land in Ukrainian town or city, yes, there's the military working their

anti-aircraft defenses, trying to protect those places.

But then, as I learned from Russian investigators, police investigators, then the investigators come in, and they document those strikes where they

can. They try to gather cases to then subsequently have evidence to prosecute Russian troops for alleged war crimes. The head of the police

investigators here in Kharkiv, Oblast, I interviewed him yesterday, he says he has more than 900 investigators on his team.

And more than half of them -- more than half of the work they're doing is preparing cases of alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops on

Ukrainian territory. That, I don't know if ever they'll be able to prosecute some of these individuals that may or may not be accused. But it

has to somehow filter down to at least some of the officer corps on the Russian side of the frontlines.

That there are people watching, there are people taking note, and there might be accountability down the road, particularly, if any of these

officers end in Ukrainian hands.

MACFARLANE: Certainly, symbolic at the very least, that they have started with the head of state here, with President Putin. And Nic, we have to

mention that this comes on the eve of Xi Jinping flying to Moscow tomorrow to meet with President Putin. What implications do you think that will have

for this meeting, will that change the dynamic of this relationship or indeed any relationship, you know, those countries who have not been

overtly supportive of Ukraine?

ROBERTSON: Well, thinking how the Russians, and particularly the Kremlin love to play up images, this is going to work beautifully for them because

here they have the leader of a very powerful, important country, that's also a G20 member, also a U.N. permanent Security Council member, coming to

Moscow. So, the narrative will be, well, what effect has this had on us? None, here they are.

There's clearly been a lot of international pressure put on President Xi not to supply and support President Putin with weapons as a concern that he

might. But there's a panoply of weapons that he could supply from sophisticated missiles, that Putin wants, which really seems incredibly

unlikely. But maybe ammunition, that he might be able to sneak through different ways. That could be a possibility.

But these two leaders will use this moment to stand together and thumb their noses at those 123 other nations of the international community,

because neither of them want to see -- want to see the war end on terms that are unfavorable to President Putin. That sends a bad message for both

of them, and they may not be military support, but the economic support that Xi will probably give Putin will be enough to allow him to continue

the war, maybe in a lesser, but grinding pace for longer, and he wants that.

MACFARLANE: We will wait to see what messages come out of that bilateral meeting tomorrow, and Nic Robertson, thank you very much, and of course,

thank you very much, Ivan there live for us in Kharkiv tonight. Thank you both. Now, as we just mentioned there, China and Russia have announced that

Vladimir Putin will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow next week.

This will be President Xi's first trip to Russia since Russia invaded Ukraine. China has tried to present itself as a neutral peace broker on

Ukraine. And the two leaders self-declared no limits relationship will be closely watched by western nations. Many of whom view China's neutrality

with deep skepticism.


China's foreign ministry said the visit will take place from Monday to Wednesday at the invitation of Putin and confirm that the war in Ukraine

would be a core part of the talks. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said quote, "China's proposition boils down to one sentence, which

is to urge peace and promote talks." Well, CNN's Will Ripley has been taking a look at this.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It certainly sends a very strong message to the West, despite now this news of an arrest

warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. That President Xi Jinping is going to visit him in person. His first overseas trip since getting this

massive endorsement in Beijing for an unprecedented third presidential term.

President Xi is really making his priorities crystal clear here. And those priorities are not working with the United States and the West on trying to

punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. No, China has not condemned it. They say that Russia's security concerns are justified.

They've never criticized Russia or even called it an invasion, even in this peace plan that they've drafted up, claiming to be neutral, while having

regular communication between Xi and Putin.

And on top of it, even though China and Russia are saying that they're going to be talking about strategic cooperation, signing important

bilateral documents. A partnership that will benefit their peoples and benefit the world. There is real concern in the United States and NATO that

they're also going to be talking about something that could change the whole equation on the battlefield in Ukraine, and that is, sending Chinese

weapons in.

Chinese weapons that would potentially give Russian soldiers a far greater fighting edge than they have right now. And that could be very problematic,

analysts say, for the Ukrainians, even with the western weapons primarily from the United States flowing in. So, the outcome of this meeting between

two strong men in Moscow, with all the storm in the West about this arrest warrant, they're going to be talking about something they could have real

life and real death implications on the battlefield in Ukraine. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


MACFARLANE: Now, after months of delay, Turkey agrees to start the process for Finland's NATO bid. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he

believes NATO will become even stronger with Finland's membership. Nada Bashir has more on what this means for the alliance's expansion plans.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Well, after weeks of talks, Finland appears to have cleared its biggest hurdle to joining the NATO alliance

with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally giving the green- light, speaking during a press conference alongside his Finnish counterpart on Friday. Erdogan said Finland had taken sincere and concrete steps to

fulfill its commitments and address Turkey's security concerns.

Adding that he believes NATO will be even stronger with Finland as a member. NATO, of course, requires unanimous approval from its 30 existing

members. Now Erdogan must gain the approval of Turkey's parliament before formally ratifying Finland's bid. However, it is important to note that

Finland applied to join NATO last Summer alongside Sweden.

But this continues to be a major sticking point for Turkey's government continuing to object to Stockholm's membership bid. Speaking on Friday,

Erdogan accused the Swedish government of embracing terrorists, in reference to allegations that Sweden is harboring members of the banned

Kurdistan workers party or PKK.

A group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union as well as Sweden. Sweden however denying sheltering anyone

with such links. But with a NATO Summit scheduled to take place in July, the Turkish president said he will continue talks with his Swedish

counterpart with the focus on counterterrorism policy.

Telling reporters that the process will be determined by Sweden's next steps. Speaking earlier in the week, Sweden's prime minister acknowledged

the likelihood of Finland joining the alliance ahead of Sweden, but told reporters that Sweden is also safer with Finland in NATO than outside of

NATO. Adding that he believes it is not a matter of if Sweden will gain membership, but when? Nada Bashir, CNN, Istanbul.


MACFARLANE: All right, still to come tonight, global markets on edge. Major U.S. banks pump $30 billion into an embattled lender, First Republic. Our

Richard Quest talks us through the banking turmoil next. Plus, a new round of protests in France. It's over the government's decision to force through

its pension reforms after initially saying all lawmakers would get to vote.



MACFARLANE: Welcome black. Global markets remain on edge after a tumultuous week for the banking sector in the U.S. and Europe. Eleven American banks

are stamping up $30 billion to save troubled lender, First Republic. The bank shares are tumbling again today as investors fear that intervention

might not be enough.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse -- Credit Suisse isn't out of the woods either. Shares in the Swiss lender fell by as much as 10 percent this morning,

erasing some of Thursday's gains. Well, here, to help us unpack this, is CNN's Richard Quest joining me. And Richard, it has been a head-spinning

week, culminating as I say, in this industry-led rescue of First Republic, and yet, there still seems to be some fears and jitteriness in the markets.

So, explain why to me, is this because investors are essentially waiting here for the next shoe to drop? That there could be some contagion in the


RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's exactly it, got in one. How far will this go? Look, the regulators are in a different environment

than 2008. Even the speed with which a run on a bank can take place happens as fast as I can use one of these. As soon as I can move my money, that's a

run on the bank. I don't have to go and stand outside like in Northern Rock and wait for the door to open.

I can do it fast, and if I realize I am hearing rumors in chat rooms that things are going badly at my lending institution, I can take the money out.

And that's why they've moved so fast. And then you get those like First Republic, which may well have had some problems, but it certainly wasn't a

basket case. And that's why the major banks decided to club together and bought $30 billion worth of deposits.

Basically saying, look, there's nothing wrong with this bank, we're not -- we're not worried, you shouldn't be either. But regional banks are still

going to bear the brunt. And if you look at the way the share prices of regional banks have fallen, that's because they're not regulated in the

same way as the big national banks. And the truth is, as you say, the worry is who's next?

MACFARLANE: Yes, very different beast, Credit Suisse for instance, from the likes of First --

QUEST: Yes --

MACFARLANE: Republic or SVB. The question I had though, Richard, it relates to next week, because I want to get your take on what we may see from the

Federal Reserve, because they like the ECB this week have been a bit of a balancing act here, of course, where -- they, on the one hand showing up

the economy, but then also financial stability. What do you think we're going to see?

QUEST: Well, very good question which I should avoid answering. The truth is, they're caught between a rock and a hard place. And that is on the one

hand, they do need to continue the fight against inflation. That is by far and away the biggest fight.


But, they need to make sure, so Wrap puts up rates, half a point, quarter of a point, but you don't want to put up rates so much that you're going to

make the banking crisis even worse. Because not only, will you have to rescue more banks, but you will also be adding monetary stimulus, you'll be

pumping money into banks, the whole thing gets much messier.

And you will be -- you will be literally reversing your own policy. And so, that's the balancing act. Now, the ECB clearly gave precedents to

inflation. Well, that's because they didn't have the U.S. regional banks to worry about. But the Fed is going to be much more cautious, absolutely more

cautious, they do. They will probably, you see -- Christina, you're leading me into choppy waters here, you're almost getting me to answer the

question. And half a point --


QUEST: Fifty -- 25-basis points, I think that will do 25, I think that they just won't want to take the risk. They can always come back and bite the

inflation cherry in a month or two. But they don't want to pour to mix the metaphors, they don't want to pour petrol onto the embers and have a raging


MACFARLANE: Yes, we will wait to see if you're right, Richard. You are able to break this down, Richard, in ways that no one else can. I wish we could

talk every day, I appreciate your insight, thank you very much.

QUEST: Thank you.

MACFARLANE: Now, the French government is hoping to have a balance pension budget by 2030. Forecast were showing a deficit of more than $14 billion in

just seven years from now, if no pension changes were made. It's the main reason why the government decided to force its unpopular reforms into law

without a full parliamentary vote. A move that sparked fierce protests.

The prime minister used special constitutional powers to do that on Thursday. But union opposition leader say there's only one person

responsible, President Emmanuel Macron. Well, senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is standing by for us in Paris this hour, clearly,

on the streets there, Sam. This has been called undemocratic. We know there has been outrage in the past 24 hours. Talk us through what the mood is

there tonight, Sam?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood, I think you could see for yourself here, at least among the several hundred people

who have gathered in La Place de la Concorde is angry to say the least. There's been a back and forth series of charges by the police and

demonstrators around this monument that is undergoing some kind of a reconstruction process, the demonstrators have been banging on the

protective fence, trying to rip it down.

Last night, they were accused, you can hear them now banging on that fence again, this is getting increasingly -- please, don't use that kind of

language -- it's getting increasingly difficult for President Macron, as he has been accused of having abrogated his responsibilities as a protector of

the French constitution by effectively overruling or ruling by diktat -- by ruling by diktat against what he assumed would be the failure of the

deputies in the National Assembly to vote in favor of his plans to increase the pensionable age from 62 to 64.

Now, that doesn't seem like the sort of thing that you would expect to see demonstrations like this as a consequence. But this strikes at the very

heart of the French economic system, the very heart for many, and now, the police are beginning to charge forward. They're responding to incoming

rocks that have been thrown repeatedly.

The protesters and demonstrators have been digging up cobblestones and hurling them at the police. They are trying to protect this barrier, the

police have been responding with tear gas and stun grenades. As a demonstrator, they're throwing a scaffolding pole just as we speak.

Now, this is getting more and more violent with every minute that goes on, and that is a real problem, because not only for the Macron administration,

but also, for the many hundreds of millions indeed of French people who object to the economic reforms that President Macron is trying to achieve.

But also object to this. They want to see orderly protest, the sort of protests that are being planned next Thursday by the union. Both private

sector and public sector unions. But instead, this is the second night of the spontaneous, technically illegal demonstrations that have been


MACFARLANE: Yes, clearly, Sam, a very volatile situation there. We will let you and your team move perhaps to somewhere slightly safer, and to our

viewers, if you heard any coarse language there, we do of course, apologize. But as Sam is saying, it's a very angry and outraged night in

France and I'm sure many more to come.


MACFARLANE: All right. Still to come tonight, we'll take a closer look at the ICC's arrest warrant against the Russian president. It's a huge

development for international justice.

And a second NATO member is now pledging to send fighter jets to Ukraine. We'll speak for an ambassador from Slovakia just ahead.


MACFARLANE: Returning to our top story this hour, the International Criminal Court has now issued an arrest warrant against Russian President

Vladimir Putin. It accuses him of playing a role in the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine, which counts as a war crime. The court also

issued a warrant for Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights. The Kremlin calls the move outrageous and unacceptable and that it has no

meaning for Russia.

Russia and Ukraine are not members of the ICC, but the court does have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Ukraine. That's because Kyiv made

two formal requests after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. And Lithuania, a member of the ICC, made a referral for a complete investigation last year.

CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining me now from The Hague where the International Criminal Court is headquartered.

Clarissa, talk to us about what more detail you've been learning about the evidence that led up to this arrest.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Christina, understandably, the Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, is not going

into much detail about the evidence, except to say that they have been collecting it for over a year now, that they have a substantial amount of

it, and that this specific investigation into the forced deportation of Ukrainian children into Russian territory is not the only line of inquiry

that they are following.


This is really just the first step in what promises to be several different cases that could be drawn up against Russian military officials and Russian

Kremlin officials as well, though, at this point, this is sort of the first port of call. They obviously understand, Christina, that it is very

unlikely that you're going to see President Vladimir Putin appearing in the dock here in The Hague. For a number of reasons, the Russians have already

made it clear that they find this summons or arrest warrant to be outrageous, that they do not grant jurisdiction in Russia to the ICC, and

that therefore they will not be handing anyone over for questioning.

But this is a symbolic moment. And it's also a historic moment. This is the first time, according to the Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, that a sitting

head of state who is one of the -- which is one of the U.N. Security Council members, has been issued with an arrest warrant for war crimes. And

the hope is that this -- because it's been done in an expedited fashion than we've traditionally seen from the ICC, this will pave the way for a

sort of, you know, international legal process that is faster and more efficient. And as they say, Christina, the proof will be in the pudding.

MACFARLANE: Yes, absolutely, Clarissa, incredibly rare. Hugely important, as you say hugely symbolic move tonight from The Hague there. Clarissa Ward

live for us. Thank you very much, Clarissa.

All right. First Poland, now Slovakia, two NATO members and now pledging to send fighter jets to Ukraine, fulfilling one of Kyiv's most urgent

requests. Today, the Slovak Prime Minister said his country will donate 13 MIG-29 war planes so Ukraine can protect its civilians against Russian

bombs. He says Slovakia is standing on the right side of history. Russia is brushing off the news. It calls the donation of Soviet era jets junk

disposal that will not change the outcome of the war.

We're joined now by the Slovak Ambassador to the United States, Radovan Javorcik, is live via Skype from Washington. Ambassador, thank you so much

for joining us this evening. I want to begin by asking you whether this decision to send fighter jets was made in conjunction with Poland given the

timing of your announcement, and why it is now that you've chosen to send these fighter jets when Ukraine, of course, have been calling for this for

some time.

RADOVAN JAVORCIK, SLOVAK AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. Thank you for this question. Obviously, it's not something which is coming

from a bright blue sky, that there was lots of consultation and coordination between allies and friends of Ukraine. So, our decision was

national, that's number one. Number two, it was also consulted with some other allies and partners. And now we think this is a very important

decision. And whenever it takes, and whatever time it's -- it is done, it's important for the Ukrainians to get equipment and capabilities which will

be able to defend their own territory. So, yes, it took a longer time, but the result is most important from our side and from our position.

MACFARLANE: Can you confirm how many fighter jets you'll be sending and how soon they'll be operational?

JAVORCIK: Well, all together, there are 13 airframes. Not all of them are air worthy, but we are -- we're very open with that. And all 13 will be

delivered to Ukraine as soon as all the tiny legal issues are solved. These are technical. And obviously, we are not talking about days or weeks, exact

dates because of the operational sensitivity, but it's a matter of wee days and WELKER: weeks to hand them over to Ukrainians.

MACFARLANE: Days and weeks. OK. I notice you saying that this was not done in isolation, that there have been talks ongoing around your announcement

to this. We know that 13 fighter jets from Slovakia, well, of course will be very welcome to Ukraine is unlikely to turn the tide of this war. Is it

partly your intention here in those discussions that you've been having about this to exert pressure on your Western allies to follow suit, and by

that I'm of course talking about the U.S., the U.K., and others?

JAVORCIK: Look, we are not extending any pressure on anybody, that these are sovereign national decisions, that's number one. Number two, there are

two lines of effort. First is to deliver whatever it's possible and needed to Ukrainians to use immediately. And then there are capabilities which are

for longer term deployment to Ukraine. And that requires training. MIG-29s, Ukrainians can fly them from day one, from second zero.


Whereas if you -- we are talking about other Western fighter jets, it takes months and years to train. So we are not exerting pressure on anybody. This

is a sovereign decision and we are urging everybody to cross their virtual lines, the red lines, to help Ukrainians to defend themselves. But, again,

it's a national decision for each country to come with a solution.

MACFARLANE: And it was interesting to hear the White House speak out saying that they support your move, or at least Poland's move, as they said

yesterday, saying that -- but also saying that, you know, your decision would have no bearing on theirs to send F-16s. I just wonder, as U.S.

ambassador, who you may know better than most, you've already just said that it would take an awful long time for F-16s to be deployable to

Ukraine. I also wonder, how workable is it for F-16s to be serviced and operated from Ukraine, you know, if, in time, the U.S. and others were to

commit to sending fighter jets?

JAVORCIK: Well, I can give you an example of how long does it take for Slovakia to get our F-16s operational, it takes roughly one and a half year

of training to get the pilots certified to fly them. That's number one. Number two, you need to have a ground handling of these fighter jets. That

takes some adjustments on the airfields, and the servicing, and other things. So, it's really not an easy task. And I think what is most

important is to get with the Ukrainians together to sit down with their plans for modernization of their armed forces, what capabilities they need.

And, honestly -- and I'm glad that Ukrainians are making strategic decision to get rid of the Soviet era aircraft and for the long term future to build

their capabilities on Western technologies. So, it's a long run, and even if any advanced aircraft different than those, which are they using now are

deployed to Ukraine, it will take several months to make them operational and worthy of any defense of the territory.

MACFARLANE: It's great to have that clarification. And before I let you go, Ambassador, I must get your response to what we have seen today. The ICC's

decision to issue an arrest warrants for crimes against humanity against President Putin. It has been called merely symbolic. But how important is

it that we have had that arrest warrant today?

JAVORCIK: This is extremely important from the point of view of justice towards all the victims or the civilians who are victims of this brutal

aggression by Russia. And, you know, the most important thing is not to forget, and if possible, forgive, but not in this -- in these

circumstances. We need to gather evidence, we need to analyze it, and we need to make sure that international community and international courts are

working and they are bringing people to justice. And this is only one of the war crimes which are allegedly committed. And I don't think they're

allegedly, they are committed on the territory of Ukraine by Russian soldiers.

So, they aren't brought to justice. The Russians can claim that they are not part of ICC, that's fine, that's their interpretation. But for the

victims, it's very, very important to get this justice done. That's number one. And number two, for any sort of reconciliation on the ground. These

sort of warrant, arrest trials, have to go on under international supervision and get the justice done to the victims.

MACFARLANE: Ambassador Radovan Javorcik, it's been great to hear your thoughts on this and appreciate your time and your thoughts, of course, on

the latest move by the ICC. Thank you.

JAVORCIK: My pleasure.

MACFARLANE: All right. Still to come tonight, we'll have a preview of CNN's latest Freedom Project documentary, focusing on the last line of defense in

the fight against human trafficking. That story coming up next.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Bus drivers can sometimes be the last line of defense in the fight against human trafficking. In the latest CNN Freedom

Project documentary, "Fighting For Mercy," CNN travels with the cool check foundation to Tanzania, where they witnessed one drivers quick thinking to

identify two children who may have been trafficking or in a trafficking situation and ultimately, they brought them to safety. Take a look.


ANGELA BENEDICTO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, WOTESAWA WORKERS ORGANIZATION: In our work day today, we have seen the impact of domestic

servitude to children and that's why prevention is so important. We have different ways to prevent human trafficking in the country. Kassim Antony

is the best agent in Ngala. Every morning, when the buses line up, when people starting to go different places in Tanzania, Kasim is there to

inspect on the bus to see if there is a young child under the age.

DOMINIKA KULCZYK, PRESIDENT, KULCZYK foundation: Kassim is trying to prevent children from ever being abused.

When he was speaking to the boys, he was smiling. He was very kind. He was really friendly. He was doing everything to make the boys feel comfortable

and safe.

BENEDICTO: When he interviewed them, he found that they're coming from Burundi. Together with the police officers, they interviewed the boys and

when they found that they are coming from Burundi, then they went directly to migration, to the border, and they had a meeting with Border Migration

and that they decided to take them back to their families.


MACFARLANE: I'll tune in this weekend to watch the full documentary, "Fighting For Mercy." It's about one group's battle against forced child

labor in Tanzania. It will several times this weekend, including the times on your screen you can see here.

All right. Still to come tonight. Beaches in the Caribbean are already seeing signs of the massive sargassum blob floating to Florida. Yes, you

heard that right. Where the stinky seaweed has already landed. More on that coming up.



MACFARLANE: The big, stinky massive seaweed headed for the shores of Florida is already wreaking havoc in the Caribbean. The beaches of Barbados

are suffering as sargassum piles up along the coasts, something that happens every year, but officials say this year has been the worst so far.

Truckloads of the seaweed have already been hauled off the beaches, but there is more to come. Leyla Santiago shows us what the Caribbean and Gulf

of Mexico are facing as summer approaches.


JOE KAPLAN, KEY WEST FLORIDA RESIDENT: It's thick in the summertime, builds up, and smells terrible.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Joe Kaplan captured these images about a week ago, massive amounts of seaweed washing up at Smathers

Beach, a beach he knows well, because he walks it several times a week.

KAPLAN: I was shocked when I saw it that day where -- it wasn't even spring yet. It's still winter, which is very unusual.

CHUANMIN HU, USF COLLEGE OF MARINE SCIENCE: And this is about a 5,000 mile long.

SANTIAGO: Professor Chuanmin Hu is one of the leading experts on what many have referred to as a massive blob of seaweed heading to Florida's coast.

SANTIAGO: Fair to call it a blob?

HU: No.

SANTIAGO: No, we can't call it a blob. OK.

HU: I would never call that a blob. OK?


HU: Because it's not.

SANTIAGO: Satellite images, he says, show it's not one massive body of seaweed, rather a bunch of patchy clumps traveling from West Africa. It's

called the Atlantic Sargassum belt and is considered a natural phenomenon. Right now, it's twice the width of the U.S., carrying six million tons of

seaweed and headed to the East Coast.

HU: In June of this year, it may turn into 20 million tons.

SANTIAGO: So let me get this straight, this, what we're seeing the last month, is six million tons and it's going to get bigger?

HU: Yes. There's no way to stop that. This is nature, just like no one can stop a hurricane.

SANTIAGO: Should we be worried about that?

HU: No.


HU: Reason is sargassum is not toxic,

SANTIAGO: But it smells pretty bad. And it's a nuisance for those trying to keep beaches clean to attract tourists. Just a few years ago, here's what

it looked like in Mexico. Officials in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, have set aside more than $200,000 to clean and remove

Sargassum from its beaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seaweed is a mixed blessing. We need it. Seaweed is a nursery for all these large pelagic fish. The negative side to that seaweed

is, if it comes in the concentrations that are believed we're going to see, our fishing grounds are going to be completely covered with it. There's

almost no point to fishing because we're going to be spending the entire day cleaning weed off our lines.

SANTIAGO: And as the Sargassum belt heads toward Florida, another natural phenomenon is already hitting its beaches on the West Coast, red tide. It

can be toxic, kill fish, and cause respiratory issues. This year's red tide concerns were enough to cancel at least one major event here in Indian

Rocks were one family visiting told us --

MARGO SAGE, TOURIST FROM CANADA: As soon as my son, and my husband, and I got out of our car, we all started coughing.

SANTIAGO: But for spring breakers like this group from Iowa, the concerns of massive amounts of seaweed or red tide, were not enough to change

vacation plans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would rather be red tide than raining every day.

SANTIAGO: Tourists, noting friends back home --

SAGE: They'd be pretty jealous regardless of having a little bit of the red tide symptoms, they'd be pretty jealous that we're here and they're not.


SANTIAGO: Because the pristine beaches of the Sunshine State are hard to resist for many, despite what may be looming offshore.


MACFARLANE: That was Lena Santiago reporting there. I might be skipping my trip to the beach this summer.

But in other beach related news, you can spend hours in the water catching waves on a surfboard. But one man decided to take that a step further.

Former pro-surfer Blake Johnston set a new world record surfing for more than 30 hours and 11 minutes. I don't know why. He didn't think that was

enough. So, Johnson jumped back in for another 10 hours. He rode more than 700 waves. Johnson said he did it to raise money for Youth Mental Health.

And he says the biggest problem was actually the jellyfish. Brave guy.

And with that, I'm riding a wave into the weekend. Thank you for joining us tonight. Stay with CNN. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is coming up next.