The FIDH exhorts the judicial system of Great Britain to confirm their refusal to grant the ex-dictator immunity status

17/12/1998
Press release
en fr

The FIDH was very disappointed to learn of the decision taken on this day, December 17 1998, by the Appeals Committee of the House of Lords which invalidates the previous decision taken by the members of this same Court on November 25 1998, a decision which legitimately refused Pinochet the status of immunity.

The FIDH notes, however, that today’s decision was exclusively motivated by a legal irregularity consisting in a suspicion of partiality weighing on Lord Hoffmann due to his links with Amnesty International ; a debatable point seeing as this organisation was not a litigant in the Pinochet case, but rather auditioned as a third party during the trial.

The FIDH therefore calls upon the judges of the House of Lords who will be asked to examine the substance of the case, to uphold the previous decision of this jurisdiction ; and to thus confirm the non-invocability of an immunity status for an ex-Head of State suspected of massive human rights violations - which he has even attempted to justify - and which can not, in any case, be considered as part of his functions.

It is of the British justice’s duty to join in the struggle against a finally unsteadied impunity, which has recently -with the adoption of the International Criminal Court and the Pinochet case - witnessed an exceptional international movement mobilised to enable the prosecution of those responsible for the worst human rights violations.

The FIDH finally recalls that legal procedures against Pinochet have not only been undertaken by Spain, but also by other European countries, which have consequently formulated formal extradition requests. Furthermore, certain complaints, including those lodged in France, do not even raise the issue of immunity of jurisdiction since they concern facts which occurred either before Pinochet was proclaimed as Head of State, or crimes of " forced disappearance ", which are likely to be qualified as crimes of a continuous nature.

Accordingly, the FIDH urges, once again, the British authorities to follow up on the international extradition requests undertaken against General Pinochet.

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