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Limits of International Law Immunities for Senior State Officials in Criminal Procedure

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Chapter Summary

Immunity of State officials, which is accorded to Heads of State or Government, Government members and other senior State officials, does not in itself form a part of jus cogens and is therefore open to exceptions, which can be found in several international agreements - for example, in Article 27 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, while the immunity of States and their senior officials is undoubtedly one of the major rules of customary international law and is assumed to be applicable erga omnes, its content and, what is more, its limits, have been the subject of increasing debate, at least since the House of Lord's final judgment in the Pinochet case. Hence, the question is whether senior State officials enjoy immunity even for international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Keywords: crimes against humanity; genocide; immunity of State officials; International Criminal Court (ICC); international law; Pinochet case; war crimes



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