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The Democratic Alliance has launched a court application to force the South African Government to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin should he set foot in South Africa for the BRICS summit in August. In an interview with BizNews, DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Glynnis Breytenbach said that the DA is taking pre-emptive action to avoid a repeat of the Al-Bashir saga. She said the South African government is playing a dangerous game. – Linda van Tilburg
Relevant timestamps from the interview
- 00:35 – Glynnis Breytenbach on the DA’s push to arrest Vladimir Putin should he set foot in South Africa
- 01:37 – Breytenbach on the granting of diplomatic immunity to BRICS summit attendees
- 02:58 – On what steps the DA wants the government to take regarding Putin
- 04:03 – On South Africa’s failure to comply with an ICC arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir in 2015
- 04:55 – On the possible consequences of another failure to execute an ICC arrest warrant
- 06:23 – On the local and international legislature surrounding the ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin
- 07:30 – On the steps the DA is taking to ensure that Putin is arrested should he arrive in South Africa
Excerpts from the interview
DA taking pre-emptive action to avoid another Al-Bashir saga
It boils down to wanting to compel the South African government to arrest Putin in terms of the warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court. But the fact is, we want to compel the South African government to obey their obligations in terms of international law and terms of South African law. The Rome Statute is being domesticated. We have obligations in our domestic law that support our international obligations. The South African government has ignored them once before in the al-Bashir matter, when they aided and abetted al-Bashir to flee the country in the face of a High Court judgement ordering them to arrest him. So, we want to prevent that from happening again. We are approaching the court for a declarator.
Unanswered questions about Putin visit
Since his visit has been on the cards, we’ve been asking Parliamentary questions. We’ve been corresponding with the Presidency, trying to find out what their position is going to be, warning them about what their obligations are, both publicly and privately and they’re dodging giving us any information, dodging giving us any answers. So, given the history of how they’ve behaved in the past, we in any event have considered this course of action for some time. We were busy getting our papers together but ensuring that an arrest warrant has been issued by the ICC, which is now being confirmed and it’s in the possession of the South Africans. So, the timing of this is good.
Government is playing a dangerous game
I suppose theoretically they could get away with it. But, the government has been behaving particularly badly of late. We have these crazy relationships with China and Russia, despite the fact that they’re not nearly as important trading partners as other countries are. We have been playing war games with Russia and China, which is quite horrendous and, in the end, we ignored our international obligations. We’re not exactly the flavour of the month internationally. We’ve been grey-listed by FATF and we’re certainly running a risk of being excluded from AGOA. All of those things will have and do have a serious impact on our economy and our economic development. So, our government is playing a dangerous game and to thumb their noses at their international obligations yet again will be extremely, in my view, and in the view of the Democratic Alliance, extremely foolhardy, but also unlawful.
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