Press release: DA welcomes judgement to make public SA’s obligation to arrest Vladimir Putin – John Steenhuisen

By John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance welcomes a judgement handed down by the Gauteng High Court today, which ruled that the government of the Republic of South Africa, in accordance with the Rome Statute to which it is signatory, must publicly and transparently argue its case around South Africa’s obligation to arrest Russian President, Vladimir Putin, following the issuance of an arrest warrant for Mr Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes.

It is clear that the South African government is making every attempt to obfuscate and cover up this pivotal matter to avoid public scrutiny, and to mask its inability to stand up to war mongers and despots like Vladimir Putin, as should be expected from any human rights-based foreign policy.

Given the farcical nature of President Ramaphosa’s responding affidavit, it is little wonder that he did not want it to see the light of day.

Deploying flimsy arguments which allege that the Russian Federation would declare war on South African should we arrest Vladimir Putin, are little more than strawman arguments when the Constitutional principle and both domestic and international law make the merits of this case crystal clear.

What is comical about the President’s affidavit is his claim that refusing to arrest Vladimir Putin would disregard the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, when the South African government, in its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, showed very little concern for the sovereignty of the Ukrainian State.

It has always been our belief that the public interest in this matter overrode government’s attempts at supposed confidentiality. This especially given the enormous implications for all South Africans that hinge on government’s decision on this matter, including South Africa’s standing on the international stage should there be a repeat of the circumstances that surrounded the visit of Omar Al-Bashir where South Africa failed in its statutory obligation to both its own foreign policy and an instruction by the ICC.

Furthermore, when hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in exports linked to South Africa’s preferential access to the United States’ market via the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are at risk, the implications of this case rightly become the business of all of the South African people.

We look forward to the merits of this matter being argued in open court where they belong in any open constitutional democracy, and we will resist any further attempts by government and the ANC to shield its decisions from the people of South Africa. This includes the report into the circumstances surrounding the Lady R which government is trying to shroud in a similar manner.

When foreign policy decisions have the capacity to decimate South Africa’s international reputation, harm our influence as a regional power, and decimate our economy, it is crucial that government uphold its obligation to be open and transparent with its people.

South Africa fought to be freed from a secretive state that heavily censored its citizens – we will not allow the ANC to reemploy these tactics to keep South Africans in the dark.

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