DA launches court application to compel the arrest of Putin in South Africa

Issued by Adv. Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
30 May 2023 in News

The DA has launched a court application in the Gauteng High Court requesting a declaratory order to the effect that if President Vladimir Putin arrives in South Africa to attend the BRICS summit, and upon receipt of a request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Putin, the South African government must immediately detain and surrender President Putin to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The DA is launching this action to avoid a repeat of the Al-Bashir saga when the South African government failed to uphold its duty to make an arrest in 2015.

This pre-emptory court action aims to ensure that South Africa upholds its obligations in terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 (Implementation Act).

President Putin is accused by the ICC of being responsible for the war crimes of unlawful deportation of children, and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation under Articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute.

The DA’s court application outlines the precise steps to be taken should a request for President Putin’s arrest and surrender be forthcoming from the ICC. These steps include that the Director General of Justice and Constitutional Development must immediately forward the request to a Magistrate in terms of section 8(2) of the Implementation Act. Subsequently, any warrant of arrest endorsed by a Magistrate must be given effect to by the government, following which President Putin must be detained and surrendered to the ICC.

The DA is seeking this declaratory order to ensure that there is no legal ambiguity relating to the procedure to be followed, and the obligations placed upon the state, should President Putin set foot in South Africa.