Lula Government: Opinion makes it possible for Putin to join the G20 – 03/31/2024 – World

Lula Government: Opinion makes it possible for Putin to join the G20 – 03/31/2024 – World
Lula Government: Opinion makes it possible for Putin to join the G20 – 03/31/2024 – World
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The Lula (PT) government produced an opinion with legal arguments that supports the possible arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Brazil, even though he is the target of an international arrest warrant.

The document was submitted in November last year to the UN International Law Commission. The body is currently working on drafting regulations on immunity from jurisdiction for heads of state. The status, which can also be granted to other high-ranking authorities, ensures that these leaders are not prosecuted or affected by legal actions in force in the countries that receive them on international visits.

The Brazilian government does not directly quote Putin in the text, but makes reference to a scenario that fits the Russian leader’s current situation: he is the target of an arrest warrant issued by the ICC (International Criminal Court), accused of having allowed crimes to occur of war in the conflict with Ukraine.

As Brazil is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, the country is in theory obliged to arrest Putin if he lands on national territory. Incarcerating him on Brazilian soil is, however, a scenario considered unimaginable due to the geopolitical and security consequences that the detention of the leader of the second largest military power on the planet would represent.

Still, the hypothesis of an arrest order has the potential to create, at the very least, diplomatic embarrassment for Brazil and Russia during the G20 summit if Putin comes to the meeting in Rio de Janeiro in November.

The text submitted to the International Law Commission has no practical effect nor is it a guarantee that Brazil would be free from censorship by the ICC if it ignores a court order during Putin’s possible visit to the country, according to experts interviewed by the Sheet.

He indicates, however, an official opinion of the Lula government in the sense that Putin’s immunity from jurisdiction should protect him from the reach of the ICC in the event that this trip takes place.

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The main argument of the document is that agreements that create international courts (as is the case with the Rome Statute) should only have effect between the parties that signed the treaty.

According to this thesis, a head of state from a non-signatory country could not have his immunity ignored even when he is in a territory that recognizes the authority of this international court. Russia withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute in 2016.

In one of the paragraphs of the opinion, Brazil agrees that immunity from jurisdiction for high-ranking authorities “should not affect the rights and obligations of States parties to agreements that establish international criminal courts and tribunals.” But he then highlights that this must occur within the scope of “relations between the parties to these agreements”.

“It is a basic norm of general international law, codified in article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, that ‘a treaty does not create obligations or rights for a third State without its consent'”, says the text.

“In this way, while the articles [sobre imunidade] do not affect treaty obligations relating to international tribunals, these international agreements do not affect the immunity of agents of non-party States.”

Brazil also states that immunity from jurisdiction for leaders is essential “to promote peaceful understandings of international disputes and friendly relations between States, including to the extent that it allows State officials to participate in international conferences and missions in foreign countries”.

And it echoes a criticism that has already circulated among representatives of developing countries about the ICC warrant against Putin: that the court is being used politically. “[A imunidade de jurisdição] contributes to the stability of international relations by preventing the abusive, arbitrary and politically motivated exercise of criminal jurisdiction that may be used against agents of States”.

A Sheet questioned Itamaraty about the opinion presented at the UN and its relationship with Putin’s possible arrival in Brazil. The ministry responded that it would not comment, as the document makes initial observations on a topic that will still be negotiated at length within the scope of the International Law Commission.

The report also forwarded the opinion to four experts in international law. Three saw the argument as an attempt to make Brazil’s obligations before the ICC more flexible and said that the hypothesis described in the essay applies to Putin’s situation.

André de Carvalho Ramos, professor of International Law at USP (University of São Paulo), says that the argument made by Brazil is based on a specific provision provided for in the Rome Statute itself: that a request from the ICC may not have effect if the requested State is obliged to act in a manner incompatible with international law “in matters of State immunity”.

The problem, continues the professor, is that there is already a precedent on this topic.

“The ICC ruled that Jordan violated the Rome Statute by not arresting then-president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir in 2017 during his visit to the country. Well, Jordan appealed and, in 2019, the ICC ruled that customary law [invocada pelo Brasil] it only applies to national courts, and there is no immunizing customary norm in the face of international courts, such as the ICC”, he says.

“In terms of the ICC, even if the Brazilian Judiciary agrees with the federal government, there is a very strong probability that Brazil will suffer the same fate as Jordan.”

Wagner Menezes, president of the Brazilian Academy of International Law, believes that the argument presented by Brazil “relativizes” the scope of the Rome Statute and goes against one of the ICC’s main objectives: to constrain the international movement of people accused of crimes of war and against humanity.

“It is not relevant whether Russia ratified the Statute or not. Brazil does not have any type of relationship, in this case, with Russia. This is a matter of Brazil’s relationship with the court”, he states.

Professor of Theory and History of International Law, Arno Dal Ri Jr. sees the wording submitted by the government to the UN as a “smokescreen”. He also classifies the argument as “weak”.

“The terms of the document are hypothetical, in which several frameworks and hypotheses are raised, including that of legitimizing Putin’s arrival through the typical immunity of heads of state”, he says.

“It is a very dubious game being played, in which the reality is known that, in the event of a surrender request by the ICC not fulfilled by Brazil, there would be a collision [com o Estatuto de Roma] and Brazil would be held responsible for this. But an expanded interpretation is used to remove the focus from the real legal problem that could arise.”

Lawyer and doctor of Law Marcelo Peregrino Ferreira has a different opinion and does not see anything that benefits the Russian case in the hypothesis addressed by the opinion. “I think that Brazil’s attack is not against the Rome Statute or another international court, but against the suspension of immunity by the common criminal jurisdiction of countries that do not have a treaty between them. And the Brazilian proposal does not seem to me to benefit the Russian case ” he says.

Putin’s possible arrival in Brazil for the G20 summit is a highly sensitive topic. If confirmed, it should become the most impactful political fact of the meeting.

Since ordering the invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, the Russian leader has become the target of an operation that, orchestrated by the United States and Europe, seeks to isolate him in different international forums. He did not attend the last two editions of the G20, in India and Indonesia — neither country is a signatory to the Rome Statute.

Putin’s eventual arrival at the summit in Rio de Janeiro caused controversy even before Brazil began its term as president of the G20.

In September 2023, when participating in the forum’s summit in New Delhi, Lula stated that his Russian counterpart was not at risk of being arrested if he decided to come to the next edition of the event. “If I am president of Brazil, and if he [Putin] comes to Brazil, there is no way he will be arrested. No, he will not be arrested. No one will disrespect Brazil”, said the PT member at the time.

Days later, Lula backtracked and stated that the decision on a possible arrest would be up to the Judiciary. “If Putin decides to go to Brazil, who makes the decision whether to arrest him or not is the Justice Department, not the government or the National Congress.”

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Lula Government Opinion Putin join G20 World

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