Diplomatic Immunity

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Functional immunity of foreign State officials in respect of international crimes before the Hague District Court: A regressive interpretation of progressive international law

On 29 January 2020, the District Court of The Hague rendered a possibly momentous judgment that may reverse an international trend to deny functional immunity to State officials in respect of allegations of international crimes. The reader may be aware that the International Law Commission (ILC) has acknowledged this trend in Article 7 of its Draft Articles on Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction (“ILC Draft Articles on Immunity 2017”). The Dutch judgment, if upheld on appeal, may now usher in a return to the traditional position that State officials, just like the State itself, enjoy functional immunity in respect of all official acts, regardless of the nature of these acts. The judgment is all the more surprising as the Dutch Government itself has been a vocal supporter of an exception to functional immunity when it comes to international crimes. Incisively, the District Court held in this respect that it ‘must apply customary international law and is not bound by the opinion of the Dutch government’. The Hague District…

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Inviolability and the Protest at the Bahraini Embassy

This week Channel 4 News broadcast a remarkable story about a dissident who climbed onto the roof of the Bahraini Embassy in London. The man, Moosa Mohammed, was part of a larger group protesting planned executions in Bahrain, executions which have been condemned by human rights organisations. The protest and underlying cause are rightly…

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Callamard Report on the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Part II

In my second post on the report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, I will discuss some of its most interesting legal findings. The key finding, obviously, is that Saudi Arabia is responsible for committing an extrajudicial execution in violation of Mr Khashoggi’s right to life. The Special Rapporteur notes…

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Callamard Report on the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Part I

Last week the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, submitted to the Human Rights Council her long-awaited final report on the investigation she conducted on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. In this post I’ll offer a few thoughts on some of the legal and factual findings of this report, which is the result of the only…

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The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Immunities, Inviolability and the Human Right to Life – Part V: Conclusion

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is in many respects a truly extraordinary case. But it is by no means unique – authoritarian states assassinate journalists and political dissidents with some frequency. The use of consular premises as the scene of the killing is, of course, one special feature of this affair. And while diplomatic and consular privileges and…

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