Johannesburg - Human Rights Attorney Richard Spoor has called for South Africa to tread carefully in its attempt to enforce the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking to the SABC, Spoor said this would put South Africa in a precarious position. The warrant obliges South Africa to arrest Putin if he attends the BRICS Summit to be hosted by South Africa in August.
This comes after the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued a warrant of arrest for the arrest of the Russian President for alleged war crimes.
South Africa is set to host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China at the 15th BRICS Summit from August 22 to 24 in Durban, with the ANC-led government said to be seeking legal advice on the matter with a clear view to assessing the implications of this decision by the ICC.
South Africa is one of the 123 countries that are signatories to the Rome Statute. Western countries and the ICC said they expected any of the signatories to the Rome Statute to effect an arrest if Putin sets foot in their countries.
With the war in Ukraine still raging more than a year after it started, Putin is accused of alleged war crimes regarding the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia. He faces arrest if he sets foot in any of the 123 signatory states to the Rome Statute.
Spoor said if South Africa arrests Putin, there would be negative diplomatic implications for South Africa.
"A constitutional crisis is threatening. I cannot see the government arresting Vladimir Putin. But what I do anticipate is that people could approach the courts, and the fact that we are signatories means that it would be possible to compel the courts and ask for an order to compel the government to issue a warrant for his arrest, and that is going to put the courts and the government in a fundamentally contradictory position. The only way out is to withdraw from the ICC in order to avoid this crisis," says Spoor.
On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for Putin to be arrested should he set foot in the country when the BRICS Summit kicks off in August, while the African Transformation Movement (ATM) opposed Putin’s arrest.