Brazilian government endorses immunity thesis that could allow Putin to come to Brazil

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Putin is considering landing in Rio in November, to participate in the G20 Summit, even though he is the target of an open arrest warrant, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), because of the war in Ukraine

Gavriil Grigorov/Pool/AFP Putin’s arrest warrant, issued by the ICC, has removed the Russian president from international circulation

O Brazilian government raised and endorsed the thesis of immunity for heads of state, which could pave the way for the presence of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Brazil. At the invitation of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Putin is considering arriving in Rio in November, to participate in the Summit of G20despite being the target of an open arrest warrant, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), because of the war in Ukraine. As Brazil is part of the ICC treaty, in theory, it should comply with the order to arrest Putin, but the government resists. The president’s two main assistants in defining the direction of foreign policy, the minister Mauro Vieira (Foreign Affairs) and the former chancellor Celso Amorim (head of the Special Advisory of the Presidency of the Republic) have already expressed in recent interviews that Putin is welcome and could be protected by some degree of immunity for heads of state. The Brazilian government’s position is in a document sent to the United Nations.

The issue of immunity for heads of state and other authorities will once again be the subject of discussion at the 75th session of the International Law Commission, between April 29th and May 31st and from July 1st to August 2nd. Putin’s case at the G20 fits into the debate, although it is not mentioned in the document, nor is it a direct target of the debate – the collegiate does not consider a specific case. The collegiate debates the drafting of a standard on the subject. The scope of the “Immunity of State Authorities from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction” has been debated at length in the commission. In 2007, it became a permanent topic on the debate agenda, by decision of the General Assembly. However, this is the first time that Brazil has sent a position, according to a United Nations summary.

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The existence of the document, produced in November 2023, was revealed by Folha de S. Paulo. In the text, the government expresses that immunity is “essential to promote the peaceful resolution of international disputes and friendly relations between States, including by allowing State authorities to participate in diplomatic conferences and missions in foreign countries”. Brazilian diplomacy also expresses an argument that has been used by Moscow, that of the “politicization” of international multilateral courts and conferences. According to the Lula government, immunity prevents the “abusive, arbitrary and politically motivated” exercise of criminal jurisdiction against representatives of States.

The core of the argument used by Brazil is that the arrest warrants for ICC they should only reach countries that are party to the treaty, as well as representatives of those countries. “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’”, argues the Brazilian government. Russia signed the founding of the ICC in 2000, but withdrew its participation in 2016, due to statements by the Court regarding the invasion of Crimea in 2014. Politically, the possibility of Putin’s arrest in Brazil is considered remote, because of the geopolitical and diplomatic implications of detaining the leader of the second largest military power on the planet, possessing nuclear weapons and directly involved in a war.

The ICC ordered Putin’s arrest on March 27 last year, for a war crime committed, in theory, in the illegal deportation, to Russia, of Ukrainian children from the territory invaded and occupied by Moscow’s troops. President of the Court, Polish judge Piotr Hofmanski stated at the time that the effective arrest of the Russian leader depended on the collaboration of the countries. “The ICC is doing its part of the job. Like a court of justice, the judges issued the arrest warrant. The execution of this warrant depends on international collaboration,” said Hofmanski.

Putin’s arrest warrant, issued by the ICC, has removed the president from Russia of international circulation. Since the war in Ukraine, he began to absent himself from participating in summits of heads of state. Although India and Indonesia are not part of the ICC, the Russian failed to attend the G20 summits in New Delhi (2023) and Bali (2022). Last year, he withdrew from attending the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg because South Africa is a signatory to the ICC. Putin’s departure generated a long controversy among South Africans. Lula, in turn, confirmed that he will attend the Brics meeting in Kazan, Russia, in October this year. In September 2023, at the G20 in India, Lula defended in an interview with an Indian TV network that Putin would not be arrested in the country. Later, in a press conference, he reversed creating obstacles to a possible arrest order in the country and stated that the case would fall to the Brazilian courts.

The Brazilian government has objected to attempts by countries allied with Ukraine and adversaries of Moscow, including the US and members of the G-7, to exclude Putin from the international arena. Brazil also opposed sanctions and, on the other hand, expanded trade with the Russians, which reached US$11 billion last year. In the wake of the controversy, the government has already discussed the possibility of reevaluating participation in the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, as it considers that it does not function properly. The review is supported by Celso Amorim. “I met Putin at the G7, at the G20, at the UN. We are part of several international organizations in which you have heterogeneous participation from many countries, many people that you do not agree with, but are part of”, argued Lula, on Thursday, the 28th. “It is part of the democratic process to live democratically in adversity. . They are not forums for equals, they are for States, for countries, and we have to respect the right of each person to do what they want in their country, criticizing what they do not agree with.”

The positions of Lula regarding the war in Ukraine affected the president’s popularity and created the impression among Western partners that he supports the Russian regime. Lula has already considered that Ukraine should cede Crimea to sign a peace agreement and said that both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski had the same degree of responsibility for the war. Ukraine, however, was unilaterally invaded by the Russians, on February 24, 2022. He further stated that the US and European countries encouraged the war by providing weapons and money for Kiev’s defense. Lula vetoed the export of military equipment manufactured in Brazil. The PT member failed in his attempt to position himself as a potential mediator in the conflict. Last week, he also said that he was not obliged to have the same “nervousness” as Europeans towards Putin and said that the “beaks will have to understand each other”. The president and the PT sent letters of congratulations for Putin’s re-election, in a controlled election that was the target of international controversy.

*With information from Estadão Conteúdo


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Brazilian government endorses immunity thesis Putin Brazil

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