South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he has 'obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender President Putin' [File: Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP]

South Africa asks ICC to exempt it from Putin arrest to avoid war with Russia

By Carien du Plessis

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he has ‘obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender President Putin’ [File: Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP]

(Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked permission from the International Criminal Court not to arrest Russia’s Vladimir Putin, because to do so would amount to a declaration of war, a local court submission published on Tuesday showed.

South Africa is due to host a summit of the BRICS club of nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — next month, which all of the heads of states of those countries are scheduled to attend.

But the ICC has an arrest warrant out for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. South Africa, as an ICC member, is obliged to arrest him should he turn up for the summit.

Ramaphosa made the remarks in a legal response to a court case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance to compel the government to arrest Putin should he set foot on South African soil. Ramaphosa’s response, which was filed on June 27th, was made public on Tuesday.

In it, he said he had initiated proceedings with the ICC under Article 97, in which states can plead not to have to carry out an arrest because of problems that prevent it doing so.

Ramaphosa said he could not disclose details about these proceedings.

“South Africa has obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender President Putin,” his affadavit stated.

“Russia has made it clear that arresting its sitting President would be a declaration of war,” he said.

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