Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Arrest Warrant of 11 april 2000 (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium) case brief

Arrest Warrant of 11 april 2000 (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium) 
Intl. Court of Justice
2002 I.C.J. 3, 24-26 (Feb 14)

-In 2000, Belgian investing magistrate issued an arrest warrant against minister of Foreign Affairs of Congo (DROC), seeking his extradition to Belgium for prosecution of violations of int’l criminal law.
-DROC claimed that arrest warrant violated “absolute inviolability and immunity from criminal process of incumbent foreign ministers.  
-ICJ concluded that, under customary international law, foreign ministers while in office generally enjoy full immunity from criminal jurisdiction and inviolability.
Belgium argues:  Immunity from criminal jurisdiction does not apply with respect to the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity under international law.
Court holds:  Immunity from criminal jurisdiction does apply, rejects Belgium’s argument.
-Court looks at State Practice, unable to deduce that there exists under customary int’l law any form of exception to the rule according immunity from criminal jurisdiction and inviolability to incumbent ministers where they are suspected of having committed war crimes/crimes against humanity.
-Court also looks to legal instruments creating international criminal tribunals.
Rules do not enable conclusion that an exception exists in customary int’l law in regard to national courts.
-The court states immunity from jurisdiction does not mean that they enjoy impunity in respect of any crimes they may have committed, irrespective of the gravity of those crimes.
-Individual criminal responsibility is a separate concept than jurisdictional immunity.
-Jurisdictional immunity = procedural.
-Criminal responsibility = substantive law.
-No immunity under international law in their own country, can be tried in DROC court in accordance with the relevant rules of DROC law.
-D will case to enjoy immunity from foreign jurisdiction if the State which they represent waives immunity.
-After individual ceases to hold position, they will no longer enjoy all the immunities granted by international law in other States.
-Incumbent or former Minister may be subject to criminal proceedings before certain international criminal courts where they have jurisdiction.

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