A group of Muslim lawyers and activists have called for the arrest of Egyptian president Abdel Fatah El Sisi when he arrives on South African soil next week. The Egyptian leader will visit South Africa on June 16th for the 25th African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg. The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) wants the military leader to be charged with gross human rights violation, including the illegal detainment of South African citizen Shaykh Abdus Salaam Bassiouni. The Egyptian-South African citizen has been imprisoned without charge since his arrest in Cairo in December last year.
The Egypt Docket was lodged with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), the Hawks and SAPS in November 2013, on account of war crimes committed in the Egyptian coup of July that year. On the 3 July 2013, Egypt’s military officers removed the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, suspended the Constitution and installed an interim government presided over by a senior jurist.
“We identified Sisi as a perpetrator of war crimes. We are now following up on that docket and we are including the agenda of Shaykh Bassiouni,” MLA spokesperson Yousha Tayob told VOC Drivetime.
The day of Sisi’s visit to South Africa coincides with the final verdict against Morsi and dozens of other Muslim Brotherhood members, convicted of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
The arrest should be executed in terms of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, of which South Africa is a signatory. As of 6 January 2015, 123 states are party to the statute. Among other things, the statute establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure. The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
“As a signatory to the Rome Statute, our prosecution and courts are authorised to deal with complaints, where South African citizens are being affected by war crimes and other human rights violations. Section 4 gives our courts jurisdiction to prosecute crimes in South African courts committed internationally,” Tayob stated.
The MLA has urged for his immediate arrest on the basis that Sisi is an “identified accused”.
“The difficulty we have is that we have given so many opportunities for our authorities to jump. For example with the Gaza Docket, in the case of Tzipi Livni, we remain confident that she cancelled her trip on account of the arrest warrant. We did the same with the visit of Barack Obama, but he was given the royal treatment. And we now give them the opportunity that someone within the authorities reads the Rome Statute and abides by it,” said Tayob.
“The arrest is significant but to have him answer these allegations is more important. We have given them [authorities] overwhelming evidence of crimes against humanity that Sisi has committed against his very own people. We remain hopeful the authorities will act.” VOC (Tasneem Adams)