President Cyril Ramaphosa says arresting Putin means declaring war on Russia, according to a court order that would force him to commit to arresting the Russian leader if he attends a BRICS summit in Johannesburg next month. MyBroadBand reports that the DA approached the High Court to force the government to observe the International Criminal Court’s warrant issued against Putin. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC and is bound by its decisions.
The government is aware of its legal obligations and is seeking ways to deal with the warrant, Ramaphosa said in an answering affidavit to the DA’s application.
He argued that he is not obligated to pronounce on the matter until Putin lands in the country — and he may never do so.
“Any obligation to arrest has not arisen,” Ramaphosa said. “It would potentially arise if President Putin were to come to South Africa.”
South Africa sought to get around the warrant by moving the summit to China or hosting it virtually, but other BRICS members vetoed both options.
According to local media reports, Putin has insisted on leading his nation’s delegation to the gathering, placing South Africa in a problem.
The government is consulting with the ICC in light of its concerns about arresting Putin, including that it could trigger conflict and compromise an African leaders’ initiative to broker peace in Ukraine, according to Ramaphosa.
“Russia has made it clear that the arrest of President Putin would be a declaration of war against Russia,” he said.
“The ICC itself has expressed concern over Russia’s nuclear threat, following the arrest warrant. South Africa has no capacity to declare or wage war with Russia. Nor does it wish to.”
In 2015, Pretoria was criticised when it did not arrest Omar al-Bashir. The former Sudanese president had been indicted for war crimes and genocide while at a meeting in Johannesburg for African leaders.
South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the government had acted unlawfully. The ICC said it failed to comply with its international obligations.
Picture: Twitter / CyrilRamaphosa
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