South Africa casts diplomatic immunity on BRICS summit attendees
Cape Town's decision comes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Putin for alleged violations in Ukraine.
South Africa will provide foreign officials attending the BRICS summit hosted by the country in August with diplomatic immunity, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The statement referred to a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court ICC in March for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in addition to Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, for "unlawful deportation" of Ukrainian children.
South Africa’s international relations minister, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, said on Monday that “immunities and privileges [will] be accorded to the participants of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting and the BRICS Summit.” The meeting at the level of foreign ministers will take place in June in Cape Town, while the summit will be held in Johannesburg.
The Foreign Ministry noted later in a Facebook post that this is a standard procedure and does not address a specific individual.
“[The procedures] are meant to protect the conference and its attendees from the jurisdiction of the host country for the duration of the conference,” the post said.
"These immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference.”
The Secretary-General of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress ANC party, Fikile Mbalula, told British broadcaster BBC last week that "if it were according to the ANC, we would want President Putin to be here, even tomorrow, to come to our country.” At the same time, Mbalula acknowledged that, as a member of the law organization, “we’re constrained by the ICC in terms of doing that.”
However, Cape Town is not hiding its opposition to how the ICC is operating.
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in April that the ANC party had determined that the country should quit the international court, "largely" because of what is regarded as its "unfair treatment" of certain countries.
"Yes, the governing party... has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC," Ramaphosa said then during a press conference co-hosted with the visiting President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
"We would like this matter of unfair treatment to be properly discussed, but in the meantime, the governing party has decided once again that there should be a pull-out."