After Pinochet: Developments on Head of State and Ministerial Immunities

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
After Pinochet: Developments on Head of State and Ministerial Immunities

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This chapter examines how the important issues of international law relating to jurisdiction and immunity have, since the handing down of Pinochet, been evolving in a variety of leading courts. In Pinochet 3, the House of Lords was concerned with the appropriate response to international arrest warrants issued in Spain for Senator Augusto Pinochet, who happened to be present in England, to stand trial for torture. These were followed by an extradition request. Both issues of jurisdiction and of immunity were involved. As to the former, the question was whether alleged acts of torture could qualify as extradition crimes under the UK Extradition Act 1989. This entailed the further question of whether universal jurisdiction meant that torture committed outside of the United Kingdom was already a crime punishable under UK law, before any statutory basis of jurisdiction was available. As to the latter, the question was whether Pinochet could receive immunity as an ex-head of state in relation to these offences, allegedly committed while he was head of state.

Keywords: Augusto Pinochet; international law; jurisdiction; immunity; Spain; United Kingdom; international arrest warrants; torture; extradition

Chapter.  7437 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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