The South African authorities are considering different options for how they can deal with the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant issued for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin if he comes to South Africa for the BRICS summit in August. This is reported by Reuters, citing a government official.
Formally, the South African authorities are obliged to arrest Putin as part of their legal obligations to the ICC, but they are clearly not ready for such a development of events.
“Because of our legal obligations, we have to arrest President Putin, but we cannot do that,” said former South African President Thabo Mbeki, whose views on international relations, the agency notes, are highly influential among government officials.
Because of this, the authorities are considering several alternative scenarios. One option that has gained popularity among South African officials is to ask China, the previous BRICS summit organizer, to host the meeting, a senior government official said.
There is another possibility: the Deputy Minister for Cooperative Management told the BBC that South Africa plans to pass a law that would give the country the right to veto the arrest of a man wanted by the ICC. However, a spokesman for the Justice Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that parliament would not have time to pass such a law before the summit.
On April 30, the South African newspaper The Sunday Times wrote that the South African authorities asked Putin not to come to the BRICS summit at all, but to take part in it via video link.
On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin, and a warrant was also issued for children's ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova. The decision has direct consequences for both defendants, the lawyers explained to The Insider. Now any of the 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute is required to arrest them if they arrive.