South Africa has declared diplomatic immunity for foreign officials attending the Brics summit in August, potentially opening the door for the attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a gazette notice on Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the immunity also applies to officials attending the Brics foreign ministers’ meeting starting on Thursday in South Africa.
The notice was declared in line with diplomatic immunities and privileges law – which states that immunity is granted to officials and experts of the UN, any specialised agency or organisation and representatives of any state participating in an international conference or meeting convened in South Africa.
Clayson Monyela, the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said Ms Pandor’s notice was “routine” and such notices were issued every time there was a similar international meeting in South Africa, local media reported.
The notice comes amid pressure on the South African government to make a decision on the attendance of Mr Putin, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes allegedly committed during his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
As a signatory to the ICC’s Rome Statute, South Africa is expected to enforce the war crimes warrant and arrest Mr Putin.
Meanwhile, the South African Defence Force (SANDF) on Monday said it would not arrest Mr Putin if he attends the Brics summit, as it did not have the power to enforce the arrest.
SANDF chief Rudzani Maphwanywa, while acknowledging the ICC’s warrant, said that the army operates within the framework of international law and respects diplomatic immunities.