THE North Gauteng High Court ruled on Wednesday that an application by Johannesburg-based Muslim Lawyers Association for the arrest of US President Barack Obama was not urgent and should be heard in the ordinary opposed court roll in a few months’ time.
The association approached the court on an urgent basis asking it to compel the law-enforcement agencies to investigate, charge, arrest and try Mr Obama for crimes against humanity when he visits the country on Friday. The court heard arguments on Tuesday on whether the matter was urgent and Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba ruled that the matter was not urgent.
This means the matter will be enrolled as an ordinary matter on the opposed roll.
The association’s spokesman, Yousha Tayob, said although its application had been found not to be urgent, the merits of its application remained untested.
The association required that the national director of public prosecution make a decision whether or not to prosecute Mr Obama within three days of the registration of the investigation by the police.
The relief sought by the association was opposed by the national director of public prosecutions as well as other state departments that were cited as respondents in the application.
The association first lodged a complaint with the National Prosecuting Authority and the police service calling for Mr Obama to be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity soon after it heard he would be coming to South Africa on an official visit. The organisation relied on the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act of 2002, which compels South Africa to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of serious international crimes, irrespective of where they took place.
The organisation’s complaint, dubbed the "Obama Docket", sets out a case of alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the US administration through its drone policy.
In its docket, the association encouraged South Africa to take seriously its domestic and international obligations and to act against international war criminals lest they consider South Africa a safe haven.
The association said in terms of the act, diplomatic immunity was not a defence and a head of state was not immune from prosecution for war crimes.