PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year I • No. 2 • pp. 400-411
PRESIDENTAL IMMUNITY AS A SHIELD FROM LIABILITY FOR INTERNATIONAL CRIMES
Mr Vukčević Nenad
Pravni zapisi, no. 2/2010, pp. 400-411
Original Scientific Article
Presidential immunity; international crimes; jurisdiction.
Because of their unique position heads of state always enjoyed special position within international law. For decades every act by heads of state were protected by rule of international law which guaranteed them full immunity from foreign civil and criminal proceedings. This rule also comprised immunity from foreign proceedings for international crimes. The reason for the existence of this absolute immunity for heads of state was found in the fact that they were always considered as a part of the state which they represent. In this way, the rule of state equality was satisfied. Nevertheless, the immunity rule enables immunity for heads of state even they were, in most of the cases, the most responsible for international crimes. Rising human rights protection within international community after World War II influenced limitations of the heads of state immunity in respect of international crimes. This practice was firstly introduced before international courts, and then also before domestic court. However, the boundaries of the heads of state immunity rule were not definitely defined within international law. For that reason domestic courts enacted different decisions about heads of state immunity than international courts. This practice enabled possibility for dictators to avoid charges for committed international crimes. This article is dealing with contemporary solutions for dictators’ punishment. Author explains which courts today have jurisdiction to prosecute former and incumbent presidents for committed international crimes. Also author points on different position of the heads of state before domestic and international courts, which is not covered by immunity rule any more.