Pinochet Ruling: important precedent


The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development applauds the ruling of the British House of Lords that General Augusto Pinochet does not have immunity for crimes against humanity committed while he was head of state in Chile.

Montr?al, November 26th, 1998 The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development applauds the ruling of the British House of Lords that General Augusto Pinochet does not have immunity for crimes against humanity committed while he was head of state in Chile.

“The Pinochet decision is a victory in the fight against impunity worldwide. It sends out the message that no one is above the law if they commit crimes against humanity,” today said Warren Allmand, President of the International Centre.

The International Centre welcomes the finding of the majority of the House of Lords which found that given the development of international law since the Second World War, genocide and torture are international crimes that cannot be considered acts performed in the exercise of the functions of a head of State. The decision sets an important precedent: dictators who commit heinous crimes while in power cannot hide behind their official position to escape the reach of justice.

The House of Lords decision is also consistent with recent developments under international law, including the adoption of the statutes establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC). The international community has increasingly recognized the need to hold dictators responsible for their actions.

The International Centre is hopeful that the extradition hearing will result in a decision to send Gen. Pinochet to Spain. It also calls upon British Home Secretary Jack Straw not to block the extradition so that he can be brought to justice as soon as possible.