Johannesburg, May 30 (EFE).- South Africa will provide diplomatic immunity to attendees of two BRICS meetings to be held in the country over the summer, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
South Africa is set to host the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Cape Town on June 1-2 and the BRICS summit on 22-24 August in Johannesburg.
By guaranteeing diplomatic immunity to participants of the BRICS meetings, which bring together leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, Pretoria has paved the way for Putin to attend the summit despite an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The publication on Monday on diplomatic immunities and privileges for the upcoming BRICS meetings shared by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has sparked much media interest in the country.
A spokesman for the foreign ministry, Clayson Monyela, on Tuesday, downplayed the announcement, saying: “This is a standard conferment of immunities that we (and all countries) do for all international conferences and summits held in South Africa irrespective of the level of participation.”
“The immunities are for the conference and not for specific individuals,” Monyela added on Twitter. “They are meant to protect the conference and its attendees from the jurisdiction of the host country for the duration of the conference.”
“These immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference,” the minister said, in an apparent reference to Putin.
In March, South Africa’s minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, confirmed that Putin had been invited to take part in the BRICS summit despite the International Criminal Court arrest warrant, but the minister did say that the order was “obviously a matter of concern.”
South Africa is a member of the ICC and as such would be under the obligation of detaining Putin should he visit the country.
The African country has maintained a neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict.
Pretoria’s links to Moscow date back to South Africa’s colonial rule when Russia backed forces from the then-illegal and now-ruling African National Congress party in the struggle against apartheid.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has offered to mediate in the conflict and called for “a peaceful solution” to the war.
Brazil, Russia, India and China formed the BRIC economies in 2006.
The name changed to BRICS when South Africa joined the group in 2010.EFE