South Africa Plans Law Change Over Putin ICC Arrest Warrant

South Africa plans to change its law so that it has the power to decide whether or not to arrest a leader wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a deputy minister has told the BBC.

Obed Bapela’s remarks come amid intense speculation over whether South Africa stands by its invitation to Russia’s President Putin to visit in August.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin over the Ukraine war.

South Africa had earlier invited him to attend a summit of Brics leaders.

Russia has not said whether Mr Putin plans to attend the summit.

Meanwhile Pretoria has also granted diplomatic immunity to Russian officials attending, something that its foreign affairs department described as standard procedure.

Brics is intended to strengthen ties between the nations that make it up – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“In June we’ll be submitting the law in parliament,” Obed Bapela, a deputy minister in the South African presidency, told the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme.

Through the law, South Africa “will give itself exemptions of who to arrest and who not to arrest,” Mr Bapela said.

Under its current laws, South Africa is obliged to arrest Mr Putin if he arrives on its shores, as it is a member of the ICC.

But South Africa has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, insisting it wants to remain neutral.

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