MLA seeks review of Obama arrest refusal

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Reuters

US president Barack Obama.

Johannesburg - The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) intends taking the NPA to court for refusing to arrest US President Barack Obama on his South African visit later this month.

“We will ask the court to review the decision neither to investigate or prosecute and to order them to commence a full investigation in terms of the Rome Statute,” MLA attorney Yousha Tayob said.

The MLA said it submitted a complaint to the national director of public prosecutions and the SA Police Service, calling for Obama to be “investigated, charged, arrested, and tried in a South African court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”.

The MLA cited the Obama administration's drone programme as the reason for its action.

The association said the complaint was made in terms of international customary law, as well as the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Act 2002 (the ICC Act).

“The (drone) programme is responsible for extra-judicial killings of both innocent civilians as well as US citizens abroad. The drone strike policy has continued unabated with total disregard for territorial sovereignty and this is cited as the primary reason that Obama should be investigated and tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” the MLA said.

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. In a recent speech Obama said the US used drones to target people it considered a threat to its national security when other measures were not possible.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed receiving the MLA's documents.

Tayob said the MLA received a letter of reply from the state attorney's office on Wednesday.

“They have decided they are not commencing an investigation,” said Tayob.

The NPA was also not going to arrest or secure Obama's attendance in a court room.

Tayob said the application for a review would be made next week, probably in the High Court in Pretoria.

The Media Review Network (MRN) was also opposed to Obama's visit. Executive director Iqbal Jassat said the MRN planned a series of protests over Obama's visits, over the US government's use of drones, its failure to stop the “occupation of Muslim countries”, and its not shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention centre as promised.

The MRN supports the MLA's planned legal action.

“We have rallied behind these actions. Levels of pressure developed by civil society would force the US government to review the purpose of this visit and possibly lead to the cancellation,” said Jassat.

A row is reportedly also brewing over plans by the University of Johannesburg to award Obama an honorary degree.

According to a report in the Sunday Independent, students were split on this.

But deputy vice chancellor Tinyiko Maluleke said the process was a lengthy one, requiring high levels of consultation and agreement, and had not been finalised.

The process of nominating someone for an honorary degree began with discussions in the honorary degrees committee, where candidates had to receive 100 percent support.

From there, the nomination went to the senate, which consisted of senior academics and representatives of the Students' Representative Committee. After that it, went to the council, which also consisted of student representatives.

At each stage, a certain amount of support was required.

“So when people say stuff has not been consulted or students have not been included, it's simply not true. It's a very lengthy process,” said Maluleke.

The same process applied to all nominees. - Sapa


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