Leiden Journal of International Law


Diplomatic Immunity, Head of State Immunity, State Immunity: Misconceptions of a Notorious Human Rights Violator

Jürgen Bröhmer  1

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This decision of the House of Lords is significant because it is the first decision of a major court of an important country refusing to grant a former head of state immunity from adjudication in the context of alleged gross violations of human rights. It is shown that state immunity, diplomatic immunity and head of state immunity are to be distinguished and the rules pertaining to head of state immunity are explained. Whereas the author agrees with the result of Lords' decision, he disagrees with the reasoning because the majority circumvented the immunity question by artificially qualifying the alleged human rights violations of General Pinochet as private acts.

Key Words: diplomatic immunity; head of state immunity; human rights violations; state immunity.


1 Senior Lecturer Public International Law, University of Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany.