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Subject: British High Court ruling on Pinochet violates international law
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 18:48:53 GMT

Equipo Nizkor Derechos Human Rights Serpaj Europe Information 29oct1998 [i) and ii) messages]



[News Service 210/98 - AI INDEX: AMR 22/15/98 - 28 October 1998]

Today's decision by the UK High Court granting Augusto Pinochet immunity from prosecution as a former head of state is an alarming setback in the international struggle against impunity, Amnesty International said today.

"This decision is extremely disappointing and dangerously out of step with existing international law which provides that there are no grounds for immunity in matters relating to crimes against humanity," the organization said. "It sets a worrying precedent for those who commit crimes against humanity using the state apparatus. It sends a message that these crimes can be committed without punishment."

"How can there be any credibility to the promises made by governments in the defence of human rights if international law is undermined by granting protection to those who commit crimes against humanity," Amnesty International added.

According to international law those implicated in crimes against humanity do not have any immunity as the obligation to exercise justice in these cases is absolute. This was established by the Statute of the Nuremberg International Tribunal and recognised as international law by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1946.

Amnesty International is urging the House of Lords to apply this principle, and thereby reiterate the commitment of the United Kingdom to prosecute crimes against humanity.

"The commitment to uphold international law in cases of crimes against humanity has been greatly undermined by the English High Court decision today," Amnesty International said.

"It is imperative that the UK authorities do not endorse the impunity under which these crimes have been shrouded. The UK authorities should now demonstrate their commitment to fully cooperate with the legal steps taken by Spain, Switzerland and Great Britain to punish these crimes."

These principles have been reaffirmed in the Statutes of the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as the Statute for the International Criminal Court, adopted in Rome on 17 July 1998. The United Kingdom has contributed greatly to these and other efforts to create international penal justice.

"This makes today's decision all the more disappointing. Furthermore, it is a flat contradiction to the way the soon to be established International Criminal Court will operate," Amnesty International asserted. The agreement to establish the Court expressly gives the Court the power to try anyone including former heads of States.

BACKGROUND: The Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal provided: Article 7: The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment". The judgement of the Tribunal, established this obligation: The principle of international law, which under certain circumstances, protects the representative of a state, cannot be applied to acts which are condemned as criminal by international law. The authors of these acts cannot shelter themselves behind their official position in order to be freed from punishment in appropriate proceedings".

The United Nations General Assembly declared this principle to be international law in its Resolution 95 (I) of 11 December 1946. These principles were acknowledged by the United Kingdom as a party to the Nuremberg Charter which set up the Tribunal, on which British judges then served.

ii) HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REJECTS HIGH COURT RULING ON PINOCHET DETENTION October 28, 1998 Human Rights Watch rejected today's ruling by Britain's High Court that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was immune from prosecution for acts committed as head of state. The organization expressed confidence that the ruling would be overturned on appeal.

"Beginning with the Nazi leaders tried at Nuremberg, the international community has consistently held government officials responsible for crimes against humanity," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "This principle was re-affirmed this year when the former Rwandan prime minister was held guilty of genocide by an international court."

The Nuremberg Principles state that "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as a Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

"These international principles exist precisely for situations in which countries are unable to bring government leaders to justice for crimes against humanity," said Roth.

Official Chilean investigations have confirmed that more than 3,100 people were victims of extrajudicial execution or "disappearance." Thousands of others were victims of torture, arbitrary detention, forced internal exile, or other abuses.

For more information, contact HRW at: - José Miguel Vivanco +1-202-371-6599 x 145 (Washington) - Joel Solomon +1-202-371-6599 x 128 (Washington) - Reed Brody +1-212-216-1206 (New York)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: 0. Brief account of the crimes the Argentinian and Chilean military are accused of, an explanation of the procedural background of the trials, and a summary of the bases for jurisdiction that the instructing judges have claimed. 1. Spanish Criminal Prosecutions Use International Human Rights Law to Battle Impunity in Chile and Argentina. Richard Wilson Director Human Rights Law Clinic American University. Washington D.C. 2. Punishing Pinochet.By Peter Weiss (VicePpresident of the Center of Constitutional Rights, which represented the family of Charles Horman, who was murdered in Chile shortly after the Pinochet coup). 3. Pinochet; Is a Terrorist Hiding in Chile's Senate? By: Scott Armstrong and Saul Landau (Scott Armstrong founded the National Security Archives in Washington. Saul Landau is chair of interdisciplinary applied knowledge at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies). 4. Autumn of the autocrat. By Saul Landau and Sarah Anderson (Saul Landau and Sarah Anderson are fellows of the Institute For Policy Studies. Landau is also co-author (with John Dinges) of Assassination on Embassy Row, on the Letelier-Moffit murders, and currently the Hugh O. La Bounty Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied Knowledge at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 5. Ko'aga Rone'eta - La "Operación Cóndor": El Terrorismo de Estado de Alcance Transnacional. Por Esteban Cuya (Investigador del Centro de Derechos Humanos de Nüremberg) The "Operation Condor". The State Terrorism of Trasnational Scope. (ESP/SPA) 6. Ko'aga Rone'eta - Los Archivos del Horror del Operativo Cóndor. Por Stella Calloni (periodista -editora en El Día Latinoamericano -Ciudad de México- y corresponsal en América del Sur para La Jornada -Ciudad de México-). The Archives of the Horror of the Operative Cóndor. By Stella Calloni - Publisher in the Latin American Day (City of Mexico) and correspondent in South America for the Day (City of Mexico). (ESP/SPA) 7. Listado de los 521 oficiales y suboficiales en servicio entre 1973 y 1975 en la organización criminal DINA y en las todas las regiones militares de la República de Chile (List of 521 officers and subordinates in active service between 1973 y 1975 in the criminal organozatin DINA by regional districts. 8. Recuerdos del proceso de Nuremberg por Jacques Bernard Herzog. Texto completo de la conferencia del 3 de mayo de 1949 sobre la jurisdicción penal internacional y el proceso de Nuremberg (Substituto del Procurador de la República del Sena, Ex Substituto del Procurador General francés ante el Tribunal Militar Internacional de Nuremberg, Secretario General de la Revista Internacional de Derecho Penal). Remembrances of the Nuremberg trials, by Jacques Bernard Herzog. (ESP/SPA) 9. Providencia por la que el Magistrado Juez Baltasar Garzón solicita ampliación de rogatoria a Paraguay para la obtención de documentos relacionados con la "Operación Cóndor". Madrid, 04.09.1998 (Request of documents to the Paraguayan authroties in relation with the Condor operative by Magistrate-Judge Baltasar Garzon) 10. Ampliación de la denuncia contra Pinochet. Testimonio del F.B.I. sobre la Operación Cóndor Madrid, Septiembre 1996. (Spanish translation of the famous FBI telegram defining the Operation Condor) 11. Ampliación de la querella por parte de Izquierda Unida en contra de Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. (Izquierda Unida's request against Augusto Pinochet) 12. Auto de prisión provisional incondicional de Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Writ of Provisional unconditional imprisonment against Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. 13. Auto ampliando la fundamentación (Listado de 94 víctimas). Extended writ. List of 94 victims. 14. Documento Fungairiño fundamentando la oposición a los juicios. The Fungairiño report arguing his antidemocratic opposition to the spanish trials. DEL MENSAJE END OF MESAGGE EINDE BERICHT FIM DA MENSAGEM FINE DEL MESSAGGIO ENDE NACHRICHT FIN DEL MENSAJE END OF MESAGGE EINDE BERICHT FIM DA MENSAGEM FINE DEL MESSAGGIO ENDE NACHRICHT

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