South Africa to Amend Laws to Avoid Arresting Putin

In response to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Africa has decided to modify its laws to grant itself the authority to determine whether to carry out the arrest.

Earlier this year, South Africa extended an invitation to President Putin to attend a summit in the country. However, due to the ICC’s arrest warrant, South Africa would be expected to arrest him during the Brics conference scheduled for August.

Deputy Minister Obed Bapela has stated that new laws are being drafted to empower the government in deciding whether to detain President Putin. The intention behind these laws is to provide South Africa with the discretion to choose who to arrest and who to exempt, specifically targeting President Putin’s potential visit.

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The ICC has charged President Putin with war crimes committed in Ukraine. While South Africa has refrained from condemning Russia’s involvement, it has expressed its desire to remain neutral in the conflict. Mr. Bapela mentioned that South Africa has also written to the ICC, seeking an exemption.

Additionally, the South African administration plans to request a waiver from Article 98 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC for prosecuting war crimes. Article 27 establishes the jurisdiction of the court over all individuals, but Article 98 argues that South Africa cannot be compelled to apprehend President Putin without Russia’s consent to waive his immunity.

South Africa, as a member of the ICC, finds itself in this situation because of the arrest warrant issued by the court in March following the conflict in Ukraine. The Foreign Affairs Department of Pretoria has confirmed the routine practice of granting diplomatic immunity to Russian personnel, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA), the largest opposition group, has filed a lawsuit demanding the arrest of President Putin during his expected visit in August.

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