South Africa may abandon the BRICS summit to avoid arresting Putin

South African authorities are looking for a way to cancel the BRICS summit, which is to be held in August, so as not to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin on the basis of an order from the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

According to Reuters citing a senior South African official, one option under consideration is to ask China to host the summit.

The fact that the event will most likely not take place in South Africa was announced on May 25 by the former president of the republic, Thabo Mbeki, who enjoys great influence among state officials. “Because of our legal obligations, we have to arrest President Putin, but we can’t do that,” Mbeki said.

Then Deputy Minister Obed Bapela said that the authorities are preparing a bill that will give them the power to decide whether to arrest leaders wanted by the ICC. However, the Republic’s Ministry of Justice noted that before the summit, the parliament would not have had time to adopt such a law.

At the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Cape Town later this week, all attendees will be granted diplomatic immunity. But such a decision in the government was called standard procedure.

“These immunities do not cancel any injunctions that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any participant in the conference,” said Clason Moniela, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice’s Department of International Relations.

The BRICS Heads of State Summit, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will take place on August 22 in Johannesburg. The Kremlin did not directly answer the question of whether Putin would attend the event. According to his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, the Russian side “will participate in the summit at the appropriate level.” At the same time, he expressed hope that Russia’s BRICS partners “will not be guided by such unlawful decisions” by the ICC.

On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and the ombudsman for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. Both are suspected of “illegally deporting children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia.” The Kremlin called the decision “irrelevant” because Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction. In this respect, Moscow is on a par with China, Turkey, India, the United States and others. However, South Africa, like 122 other countries in the world, has ratified the Rome Statute and must comply with the ruling of the court in The Hague.


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