South Africa Asked to Arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin

President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin (file photo)
President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin (file photo)

South Africa Asked to Arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin

Since Russia does not recognize the ICC jurisdiction, it has refused to acknowledge the arrest warrants.

By RMN News Service

South Africa is being asked to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin who is under the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant. However, the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa is reluctant, as he has expressed that Putin’s arrest would amount to declaration of war against Russia.

South Africa has invited Putin to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in August. Since South Africa is an ICC signatory, the country is supposed to detain Putin.

According to a BBC report of July 19, South Africa’s biggest opposition party, Democratic Alliance, has approached the court seeking directions to arrest Putin when he reaches South Africa. But with national security concerns President Ramaphosa is against any such attempt. 

In March, the ICC had issued warrants of arrest for two individuals in the context of the situation in Ukraine: Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova.

According to ICC, the President of the Russian Federation Putin, 71, is accused of war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (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 crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022. According to ICC, there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the alleged crimes.

Ms Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, 38, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the  President of the Russian Federation, is also accused of the same crime. 

Since Russia does not recognize the ICC jurisdiction, it has refused to acknowledge the arrest warrants saying that they are nothing more than “toilet paper.” 

Although the 123 ICC member states are supposed to arrest Putin and Maria Alekseyevna when they visit these nations, it is highly unlikely that the warrants will be enforced.

The Hague-based ICC is a toothless court as it does not have any power to get its decisions implemented by various member states. Therefore, the warrants of arrest are meaningless without any consequence for Putin and Maria Alekseyevna.

The warrants of arrests were issued pursuant to the applications submitted by the Prosecution on 22 February 2023.

Meanwhile, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine also said in a new report released in March that the Russian authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in various regions of Ukraine, many of which amount to war crimes.

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Rakesh Raman