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South Africa to grant diplomatic immunity to participants of upcoming BRICS summit, allowing wanted Putin to join

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 30, 2023 2:17 PM 2 min read
South-Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) attend the first plenary session as part of the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Photo by Sergei Chirikov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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South Africa's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on May 30 claiming that its intention to grant diplomatic immunity to attendees of the forthcoming BRICS summit was a "standard" procedure meant "for the conference and not for specific individuals."

BRICS is a loose organization involving Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

There has been ongoing speculation as to whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend this year's summit in person due to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) warrant for his arrest.

On March 17, ICC issued arrest warrants for both Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly responsible for overseeing the forced deportations of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russian territory.

South Africa, as one of the 123 countries party to the Rome Statute, is obliged to execute arrest warrants issued by the ICC.

The statement released by the South African Foreign Ministry on May 30 claimed that "these (intended diplomatic) immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference."

A government notice signed by South African Foreign Minister Grace Naledi was uploaded to the South African government's website on May 29, indicating that diplomatic immunity would be granted to the participants of the ministerial meeting to be held from June 1-2 in Cape Town and the official summit meeting featuring heads of state to be held from Aug. 22-24 in Johannesburg.

On April 30, South Africa's Sunday Times reported that local officials were attempting to convince Putin to attend the summit virtually due to the ICC warrant for his arrest.

Government sources cited by the Sunday Times said that a special commission established by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had reached a conclusion that if Putin attended the summit they would be obligated to arrest him.

"We have no option not to arrest Putin," a government official told the Sunday Times. "If he comes here, we will be forced to detain him."

Ramaphosa made public comments in late April about withdrawing from the ICC due to its "unfair treatment" of other countries.

Ramaphosa's office issued a public statement soon after, claiming that it was a "communication error" that the African National Congress (ANC) made during a media briefing.

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