cape town [South Africa]May 30 (ANI): The South African government has granted diplomatic immunity to all international participants, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials, at a BRICS-related event in the country, local media reported.
Immunities and privileges under the UN Convention confer immunity from personal arrest or detention.
According to South African publication Daily Maverick, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor issued a Gazette Notice requiring all international officials attending BRICS-related events in the country to obtain diplomatic immunity and Bill of Privileges.
The notice, signed on May 19 and gazetted on Monday, states that Putin and his international counterparts will be granted the immunities and privileges set out in section 6(1)(a) of the act.
A spokesman for Pandor said the notification was “routine” and is sent out every time a similar international conference is held in South Africa.
The Act states that such immunity is granted to officials and experts of the United Nations, any specialized agency or organization, and representatives of any country participating in international conferences or meetings held in South Africa.
Section 6(1)(a) of the Act provides that immunity is “specified in the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations or the 1947 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies, as the case may be, with respect to participation in conferences and meetings”.
“Freedom from arrest or detention in person, from seizure of their personal baggage, and from legal process of every kind in respect of all words spoken or written and acts done by them in their representative capacity,” the document reads. “
The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March, and since South Africa is a member of the group, it is obliged to arrest Putin while he is in the country.
Nonetheless, South Africa, the current chair of the BRICS alliance, has formally invited Putin to an August summit.
The International Relations Department is also seeking legal advice on how to deal with the ICC warrant. Putin’s possible attendance at the BRICS summit has been a bone of contention since the arrest warrant was issued.
It has now been confirmed that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will attend the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Cape Town on Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader John Steenhuisen has filed an application for the government to urgently order Putin’s arrest if the International Criminal Court orders South Africa to arrest Putin, the Daily Maverick reported.
Steenhuisen has asked for a three-part order that seeks to confirm that other respondents to his application are obliged to ensure that Putin is arrested when he enters South Africa.
Steenhuisen sought an order confirming that the attorney general must forward the arrest warrant to a magistrate after receiving the ICC request for Putin’s arrest and handover.
The other interviewees were the President, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Director-General, the Minister and Director-General of International Relations and Cooperation, the Minister and Commissioner of the National Police, and the Vice-President.
The South African government has said it is looking for a legal loophole that would allow it to host Putin without violating the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This loophole can be found in Article 98 of the Rome Statute.
While article 27 of the Rome Statute states that even sitting heads of state are not immune from prosecution by the ICC, article 98 appears to provide an exception to this general rule.
Article 98, paragraph 1, states that “the court shall not deal with a request for the surrender or assistance of the requested State [in this case South Africa] breaches obligations under international law with respect to the national or diplomatic immunity of persons of third States, [in this case Putin and Russia] unless the court can first obtain the cooperation of that third country in waiving immunity. “
On the face of it, the article seems to imply that the ICC cannot order Pretoria to arrest and hand over Putin unless Russia agrees to waive Putin’s immunity from prosecution – which Moscow clearly won’t.
South Africa attempted to invoke Article 98 when the ICC demanded that South Africa arrest and surrender then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. But the ICC ruled at the time that Article 98 did not apply because the UN Security Council had referred the situation in Sudan to the ICC.
However, the situation in Ukraine, where the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin, was not referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council. It was taken over by the ICC prosecutor.
According to the Daily Maverick, South Africa may face an even bigger hurdle in its own ICC implementing bill, which also makes it clear that sitting heads of state do not enjoy immunity from prosecution – but nothing like the Any qualifications like Article 98. (Arnie)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the body of content may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)