Pinochet I (25-11-1998)
Judgments - Regina v. Bartle and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others EX Parte Pinochet (on appeal from a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division)
Regina v. Evans and another and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others EX Parte Pinochet (on appeal from a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division)
HOUSE OF LORDS
Lord Slynn of Hadley Lord Lloyd of Berwick Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead
Lord Steyn Lord Hoffmann
OPINIONS OF THE LORDS OF APPEAL FOR JUDGMENT IN THE CAUSE
BARTLE AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE FOR THE METROPOLIS AND OTHERS (APPELLANTS)
EX PARTE PINOCHET (RESPONDENT)
(ON APPEAL FROM A DIVISIONAL COURT OF THE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION)
EVANS AND ANOTHER AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE FOR THE METROPOLIS AND OTHERS (APPELLANTS)
EX PARTE PINOCHET (RESPONDENT)
(ON APPEAL FROM A DIVISIONAL COURT
OF THE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION)
ON 25 NOVEMBER 1998
LORD SLYNN OF HADLEY
The respondent to this appeal is alleged to have committed or to have been responsible for the commission of the most serious of crimes--genocide, murder on a large scale, torture, the taking of hostages. In the course of 1998, eleven criminal suits have been brought against him in Chile in respect of such crimes. Proceedings have also now been brought in a Spanish court. The Spanish Court has, however, held that it has jurisdiction to try him. In the latter proceedings, none of these specific crimes is said to have been committed by the respondent himself.
If the question for your Lordships on the appeal were whether these allegations should be investigated by a Criminal Court in Chile or by an international tribunal, the answer, subject to the terms of any amnesty, would surely be yes. But that is not the question and it is necessary to remind oneself throughout that it is not the question. Your Lordships are not being asked to decide whether proceedings should be brought against the respondent, even whether he should in the end be extradited to another country (that is a question for the Secretary of State) let alone whether he in particular is guilty of the commission or responsible for the commission of these crimes. The sole question is whether he is entitled to immunity as a former Head of State from arrest and extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom in respect of acts alleged to have been committed whilst he was Head of State.
The proceedings have arisen in this way. On 16 October 1998 Mr. Nicholas Evans, a Metropolitan Magistrate, issued a provisional warrant for the arrest of the respondent pursuant to section 8(1)(b) of the Extradition Act 1989 on the basis that there was evidence that he was accused that:
"between 11 September 1973 and 31 December 1983 within the jurisdiction of the Fifth Central Magistrate of the National Court of Madrid did murder Spanish citizens in Chile within the jurisdiction of the Government of Spain."
A second warrant was issued by Mr. Ronald Bartle, a Metropolitan Magistrate, on 22 October 1998 on the application of the Spanish Government, but without the respondent being heard, despite a written request that he should be heard to oppose the application. That warrant was issued on the basis that there was evidence that he was accused:
"between 1 January 1988 and December 1992 being a public official intentionally inflicted severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his official duties within the jurisdiction of the Government of Spain."
Particulars of other alleged offences were set out, namely:
(i) between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 1992, being a public official, conspired with persons unknown to intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his official duties;
(ii) Between 1 January 1982 and 31 January 1992: (a) he detained; (b) he conspired with persons unknown to detain other persons ("the hostages") and in order to compel such persons to do or to abstain from doing any act, threatened to kill, injure or continue to detain the hostages;
(iii) Between January 1976 and December 1992, conspired together with persons unknown to commit murder in a Convention country.
It seems, however, that there are alleged at present to have been only one or two cases of torture between 1 January 1988 and 11 March 1990.
The respondent was arrested on that warrant on 23 October.
On the same day as the second warrant was issued, and following an application to the Home Secretary to cancel the warrant pursuant to section 8(4) of the Extradition Act 1989, solicitors for the respondent issued a summons applying for an order of Habeas Corpus. Mr. Michael Caplan, a partner in the firm of solicitors, deposed that the plaintiff was in hospital under medication following major surgery and that he claimed privilege and immunity from arrest on two grounds. The first was that, as stated by the Ambassador of Chile to the Court of St. James's, the respondent was "President of the Government Junta of Chile" according to Decree No. 1, dated 11 September 1973 from 11 September 1973 until 26 June 1974 and "Head of State of the Republic of Chile" from 26 June 1974 until 11 March 1990 pursuant to Decree Law No. 527, dated 26 June 1974, confirmed by Decree Law No. 806, dated 17 December 1974, and subsequently by the 14th Transitory Provision of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile 1980. The second ground was that the respondent was not and had not been a subject of Spain and accordingly no extradition crime had been identified.
An application was also made on 22 October for leave to apply for judicial review to quash the first warrant of 16 October and to direct the Home Secretary to cancel the warrant. On 26 October a further application was made for Habeas Corpus and judicial review of the second warrant. The grounds put forward were (in addition to the claim for immunity up to 1990) that all the charges specified offences contrary to English statutory provisions which were not in force when the acts were done. As to the fifth charge of murder in a Convention country, it was objected that this charged murder in Chile (not a Convention country) by someone not a Spanish national or a national of a Convention country. Objection was also taken to the issue of a second provisional warrant when the first was treated as being valid.
These applications were heard by the Divisional Court on 26 and 27 October. On 28 October leave was given to the respondent to move for certiorari and the decision to issue the provisional warrant of 16 October was quashed. The Magistrate's decision of 22 October to issue a provisional warrant was also quashed, but the quashing of the second warrant was stayed pending an appeal to your Lordships' House for which leave was given on an undertaking that the Commissioner of Police and the Government of Spain would lodge a petition to the House on 2 November 1998. It was ordered that the applicant was not to be released from custody other than on bail, which was granted subsequently. No order was made on the application for Habeas Corpus, save to grant leave to appeal and as to costs.
The Divisional Court certified:
"that a point of law of general public importance is involved in the Court's decision, namely the proper interpretation and scope of the immunity enjoyed by a former Head of State from arrest and extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom in respect of acts committed when he was Head of State".
The matter first came before your Lordships on Wednesday 5 November. Application for leave to intervene was made first by Amnesty International and others representing victims of the alleged activities. Conditional leave was given to these intervenors, subject to the parties showing cause why they should not be heard. It was ordered that submissions should so far as possible be in writing, but that, in view of the very short time available before the hearing, exceptionally leave was given to supplement those by oral submissions, subject to time limits to be fixed. At the hearing no objection was raised to Professor Brownlie, Q.C. on behalf of these intervenors being heard. Leave was also given to other intervenors to apply to put in written submissions, although an application to make oral submissions was refused. Written submissions were received on behalf of these parties. Because of the urgency and the important and difficult questions of international law which appeared to be raised, the Attorney General, at your Lordships request, instructed Mr. David Lloyd Jones as amicus curiae and their Lordships are greatly indebted to him for the assistance he provided in writing and orally at such very short notice. Many cases have been cited by counsel, but I only refer to a small number of them.
At the date of the provisional warrants and of the judgment of the Divisional Court no extradition request had been made by Spain, a party to the European Convention on Extradition, nor accordingly any authority to proceed from the Secretary of State under the Extradition Act 1989.
The Divisional Court held that the first warrant was defective. The offence specified of murder in Chile was clearly not said to be committed in Spain so that section 2(1)(a) of the 1989 Act was not satisfied. Nor was section 2(1)(b) of the Act satisfied since the United Kingdom Courts could only try a defendant for murder outside the United Kingdom if the defendant was a British citizen (section 9 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 as amended). Moreover, section 2(3)(a) was not satisfied, since the accused is not a citizen of Spain and it is not sufficient that the victim was a citizen of Spain. The Home Secretary, however, was held not to have been in breach of his duty by not cancelling the warrants. As for the second provisional warrant, the Divisional Court rejected the respondent's argument that it was unlawful to proceed on the second warrant and that the Magistrate erred in not holding an inter partes hearing. The Court did not rule at that stage on the respondent's argument that the acts alleged did not constitute crimes in the United Kingdom at the time they were done, but added that it was not necessary that the conduct alleged did constitute a crime here at the time the alleged crime was committed abroad.
As to the sovereign immunity claim, the Court found that from the earliest date in the second warrant (January 1976), the respondent was Head of State of Chile and, although he ceased to be Head of State in March 1990, nothing was relied on as having taken place after March 1990 and indeed the second international warrant issued by the Spanish Judge covered the period from September 1973 to 1979. Section 20 in Part III of the State Immunity Act 1978 was held to apply to matters which occurred before the coming into force of the Act. The Court read the international warrant as accusing the respondent not of personally torturing or murdering victims or causing their disappearance, but of using the powers of the State of which he was Head to do that. They rejected the argument that section 20(1) of the 1970 Act and Article 39 of the Vienna Convention only applied to acts done in the United Kingdom, and held that the applicant was entitled to immunity as a former Head of State from the criminal and civil process of the English Courts.
A request for the extradition of the respondent, signed in Madrid on 3 November 1998 by the same judge who signed the international warrant, set out a large number of alleged murders, disappearances and cases of torture which, it is said, were in breach of Spanish law relating to genocide, to torture and to terrorism. They occurred mainly in Chile, but there are others outside Chile--e.g. an attempt to murder in Madrid, which was abandoned because of the danger to the agent concerned. The respondent personally is said to have met an agent of the intelligence services of Chile (D.I.N.A.) following an attack in Rome on the Vice-President of Chile in October 1975 and to have set up and directed "Operation Condor" to eliminate political adversaries, particularly in South America.
"These offences have presumably been committed, by Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, along with others in accordance with the plan previously established and designed for the systematic elimination of the political opponents, specific segments of sections of the Chilean national groups, ethnic and religious groups, in order to remove any ideological dispute and purify the Chilean way of life through the disappearance and death of the most prominent leaders and other elements which defended Socialist, Communist (Marxist) positions, or who simply disagreed."
By order of 5 November 1998, the Judges of the National Court Criminal Division in Plenary Session held that Spain had jurisdiction to try crimes of terrorism, and genocide even committed abroad, including crimes of torture which are an aspect of genocide and not merely in respect of Spanish victims.
"Spain is competent to judge the events by virtue of the principle of universal prosecution for certain crimes--a category of international law--established by our internal legislation. It also has a legitimate interest in the exercise of such jurisdiction because more than 50 nationals were killed or disappeared in Chile, victims of the repression reported in the proceedings."
The Validity of the Arrest
Although before the Divisional Court the case was argued on the basis that the respondent was at the relevant times Head of State, it was suggested that he was not entitled to such recognition, at any rate for the whole of the period during which the crimes were alleged to have been committed and for which immunity is claimed. An affidavit sworn on 2 November 1974 was produced from Professor Faundez to support this. His view was that by Decree Law No. 1 of 11 September 1973, the respondent was only made President of the Military Junta; that Decree Law was in any event unconstitutional. By Decree Law No. 527 of 26 June 1974, the respondent was designated "Supreme Chief of the Nation" and by Decree Law No. 806 of 17 December 1974, he was given the title President of the Republic of Chile. This, too, it is said was unconstitutional, as was the Decree Law No. 788 of 4 December 1974 purporting to reconcile the Decree Laws with the Constitution. He was not, in any event, appointed in a way recognised by the Constitution. It seems clear, however, that the respondent acted as Head of State. In affidavits from the Ambassador of Chile to the Court of St. James's, sworn on 21 October 1998, and by affidavits of two former Ambassadors, his position has been said to be that of President of the Junta from 11 September 1973 until 26 June 1974 and then Head of State from 26 June 1974 until 11 March 1990. Moreover, it was the respondent who signed the letters of credential presented to The Queen by the Chilean Ambassador to the United Kingdom on 26 October 1973. Further, in the request for extradition dated 3 November 1998, the Spanish Government speak of him as being Head of State. He is said not to have immunity "in regard to the allegedly criminal acts committed when [the respondent] was Head of State in Chile" and in considering whether an immunity should be accorded, it was relevant to take into account that "Mr. Pinochet became Head of State after overthrowing a democratically elected Government by force". I accordingly accept for the purposes of this appeal that, although no certificate has been issued by the Secretary of State pursuant to Section 21(a) of the State Immunity Act 1978, on the evidence at all maternal times until March 1990 the respondent was Head of State of Chile.
The protection claimed by the respondent is put essentially on two different bases, one a procedural bar to the proceedings for extradition and the other an objection that the issues raised are not justiciable before the English Courts. They are distinct matters, though there are common features. See for example Argentina v. Amerada Hess 488 U.S. 428, Filartiga v. Pena-Irala (1984) 577 F.Supp. 860, Siderman de Blake v. Republic of Argentina(1992) 965 F 2d 699, and Al Adsani v. Kuwait 107 I.L.R. 536.
The Claim of Immunity
Chronologically, it is the procedural bar which falls to be considered first. Can the respondent say either that because the State is immune from proceedings he cannot be brought before the Court, or can he say that as a former Head of State he has an immunity of his own which, as I see it, is a derivative of the principle of State immunity. The starting point for both these claims is now the State Immunity Act 1978. The long title of that Act states that this is to (a) make new provision in respect of proceedings in the United Kingdom by or against other States and (b) to make new provision with respect to the immunities and privileges of Heads of State.
Part I deals with (a); Part III with (b). Part I
By section 1 headed "General Immunity from Jurisdiction", it is provided: "(1) A State is immune from the jurisdiction of the Courts of the United Kingdom except as provided in the following provisions of this Part of this Act".
The first part of the sentence is general and the exceptions which follow in sections 2 to 11 relate to specific matters--commercial transactions, certain contracts of employment and injuries to persons and property caused by acts or omissions in the United Kingdom--and do not indicate whether the general rule applies to civil or criminal matters, or both. Some of these exceptions -patents, trademarks and business names, death or personal injury--are capable of being construed to include both civil and criminal proceedings.
Section 1 refers only to States and there is nothing in its language to indicate that it covers emanations or officials of the State. I read it as meaning States as such. Section 14, however, goes much further, since references to a State:
"include references to (a) the sovereign or other head of that State in his public capacity; (b) the government of that State; and (c) any department of that government, but not to any entity (hereinafter referred to as a separate entity) which is distinct from the executive organs of the government of the State and capable of suing or of being sued".
A "separate entity" is immune from jurisdiction "if, and only if--(a) the proceedings relate to anything done by it in the exercise of sovereign authority and (b) the circumstances are such that a State . . . would have been so immune." This section does not deal expressly with the position of a former Head of State.
Section 16(4), however, under the heading "Excluded Matters", provides that "this Part of this Act does not apply to criminal proceedings". Mr. Nicholls, Q.C. contends that this must be read subject to the terms of the provision of Section 1(1) which confers absolute immunity from jurisdiction on States. Section 16(4) therefore excludes criminal proceedings from the exceptions provided in sections 2 to 11, but it does not apply to section 1(1), so that a State is immune from criminal proceedings and accordingly Heads of State enjoy immunity from criminal proceedings under section 14. I am not able to accept this. Section 16(4) is in quite general terms and must be read as including section 1 as well as sections 2 to 11 of the Act. It is hardly surprising that crimes are excluded from section 1, since the number of crimes which may be committed by the State as opposed to by individuals seems likely to be limited. It is also consistent with the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act of the United States which, as I understand it, does not apply to criminal proceedings. Since extradition proceedings in respect of criminal charges are themselves regarded as criminal proceedings, the respondent cannot rely on Part I of the 1978 Act.
Part III of the Act contains the provisions of this Act on which it seems that this claim turns, curiously enough under the heading, "Miscellaneous and Supplementary". By section 20(1), "Heads of State", it is provided that:
"subject to the provisions of this section and to any necessary modifications, the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 shall apply to (a) A sovereign or other head of State; (b) members of his family forming part of his household; and (c) his private servants, as it applies to the head of a diplomatic mission, to members of his family forming part of his household and to his private servants.
. . . .
(5) This section applies to the sovereign or other head of any State on which immunities and privileges are conferred by Part I of this Act and is without prejudice to the application of that Part to any such sovereign or head of State in his public capacity".
Again there is no mention of a former Head of State.
The Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, unlike the 1978 Act, provides in section 1 that the provisions of the Act, "with respect to the matters dealt with shall "have effect in substitution for any previous enactment or rule of law". By section 2, Articles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) set out in the Schedule, "shall have the force of law in the United Kingdom."
The Preamble to the Vienna Convention (which though not part of the Schedule may in my view be looked at in the interpretation of the articles so scheduled) refers to the fact that an International Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities would contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations "irrespective of the differing constitutional and social systems" and records that the purpose of such privileges and immunities is "not to benefit individuals, but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States." It confirmed, however, "that the rules of customary international law should continue to govern questions not expressly regulated by the provisions of the present Convention."
It is clear that the provisions of the Convention were drafted with the Head and the members of a diplomatic staff of the mission of a sending State (whilst in the territory of the receiving State and carrying out diplomatic functions there) in mind and the specific functions of a diplomatic mission are set out in article 3 of the Convention. Some of the provisions of the Vienna Convention thus have little or no direct relevance to the Head of State: those which are relevant must be read "with the necessary modifications".
The relevant provisions for present purposes are:-
(i) Article 29:
"The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity."
(ii) By Article 31(1), a diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State
(iii) By Article 39:
"1. Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry as may be agreed. 2. When the functions of a person enjoying privileges and immunities have come to an end, such privileges and immunities shall normally cease at the moment when he leaves the country, or on expiry of a reasonable period in which to do so, but shall subsist until that time, even in case of armed conflict. However, with respect to acts performed by such a person in the exercise of his functions as a member of the mission, immunity shall continue to subsist."
It is also to be noted that in article 38, for diplomatic agents who are nationals of or resident in the receiving State, immunity is limited. Such immunity is only in respect of "official" acts performed in the exercise of his functions.
Reading the provisions "with the necessary modifications" to fit the position of a Head of State, it seems to me that when references are made to a "diplomatic agent" one can in the first place substitute only the words "Head of State". The provisions made cover, prima facie, a Head of State whilst in office. The next question is how to relate the time limitation in article 39(1) to a Head of State. He does not, in order to take up his post as Head of State, "enter the territory of a receiving State", i.e. a country other than his own, in order to take up his functions or leave it when he finishes his term of office. He may, of course, as Head of State visit another State on an official visit and it is suggested that his immunity and privileges are limited to those visits. Such an interpretation would fit into a strictly literal reading of article 39. It seems to me, however, to be unreal and cannot have been intended. The principle functions of a Head of State are performed in his own country and it is in respect of the exercise of those functions that if he is to have immunity that immunity is most needed. I do not accept therefore that section 20 of the 1978 Act read with article 39(2) of the Vienna Convention is limited to visits abroad.
Nor do I consider that the general context of this Convention indicates that it only grants immunity to acts done in a foreign state or in connection only with international diplomatic activities as normally understood. The necessary modification to "the moment he enters the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post" and to "the moment when he leaves the country" is to the time when he "becomes Head of State" to the time "when he ceases to be Head of State". It therefore covers acts done by him whilst in his own State and in post. Conversely there is nothing to indicate that this immunity is limited to acts done within the State of which the person concerned is Head.
If these limitations on his immunity do not apply to a Head of State they should not apply to the position of a former Head of State, whom it is sought to sue for acts done during his period as Head of State. Another limitation has, however, been suggested. In respect of acts performed by a person in the exercise of his functions as head of a mission, it is said that it is only "immunity" which continues to subsist, whereas "privileges and immunities normally cease at the moment when he leaves the country [sc. when he finishes his term of office]." It is suggested that all the provisions of article 29 are privileges not immunities. Mr. Nicholls, Q.C. replies that even if being treated with respect and being protected from an attack on his person, freedom or dignity are privileges, the provision that a diplomatic agent [sc. Head of State] "shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention" is an immunity. As a matter of ordinary language and as a matter of principle it seems to me that Mr. Nicholls is plainly right. In any event, by article 31 the diplomatic agent/Head of State has immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State: that immunity would cover immunity from arrest as a first step in criminal proceedings. Immunity in article 39(2) in relation to former Heads of State in my view covers immunity from arrest, but so also does article 29.
Where a diplomatic agent [Head of State] is in post, he enjoys these immunities and privileges as such--i.e. ratione personae just as in respect of civil proceedings he enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of the Courts of the United Kingdom under section 14 of the 1978 Act because of his office.
For one who ceases to occupy a post "with respect to acts performed by such a person in the exercise of his functions as a member of the mission [Head of State] immunity shall continue to subsist." This wording is in one respect different from the wording in article 38 in respect of a diplomat who is a national of the receiving State. In that case, he has immunity in respect of "official" acts performed in the exercise of his function, but as Mrs. Denza suggests, the two should be read in the same way [see Diplomatic Law, 2nd Edition, p. 363].
The question then arises as to what can constitute acts (i.e. official acts) in the exercise of his functions as Head of State.
It is said (in addition to the argument that functions mean only international functions which I reject):
(i) that the functions of the Head of State must be defined by international law, they cannot be defined simply as a matter of national law or practice; and
(ii) genocide, torture and the taking of hostages cannot be regarded as the functions of a Head of State within the meaning of international law when international law regards them as crimes against international law.
As to (i), I do not consider that international law prescribes a list of those functions which are, and those which are not, functions for the purposes of article 32. The role of a Head of State varies very much from country to country, even as between Presidents in various States in Europe and the United States. International law recognises those functions which are attributed to him as Head of State by the law, or in fact, in the country of which he is Head as being functions for this purpose, subject to any general principle of customary international law or national law, which may prevent what is done from being regarded as a function.
As to (ii), clearly international law does not recognise that it is one of the specific functions of a Head of State to commit torture or genocide. But the fact that in carrying out other functions, a Head of State commits an illegal act does not mean that he is no longer to be regarded as carrying out one of his functions. If it did, the immunity in respect of criminal acts would be deprived of much of its content. I do not think it right to draw a distinction for this purpose between acts whose criminality and moral obliquity is more or less great. I accept the approach of Sir Arthur Watts, Q.C. in his Hague Lectures at pp. 56-57:
"A Head of State clearly can commit a crime in his personal capacity; but it seems equally clear that he can, in the course of his public functions as Head of State, engage in conduct which may be tainted by criminality or other forms of wrongdoing. The critical test would seem to be whether the conduct was engaged in under colour of or in ostensible exercise of the Head of State's public authority90. If it was, it must be treated as official conduct, and so not a matter subject to the jurisdiction of other States whether or not it was wrongful or illegal under the law of his own State.91"
In the present case it is accepted in the international warrant of arrest that in relation to the repression alleged "the plans and instructions established beforehand from the Government enabled these actions to be carried out". "In this sense [the] Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Chilean Government at the time committed punishable acts . . . "
I therefore conclude that in the present case the acts relied on were done as part of the carrying out of his functions when he was Head of State.
The next question is, therefore, whether this immunity in respect of functions is cut down as a matter of the interpretation of the Vienna Convention and the Act. The provisions of the Act "fall to be considered against the background of those principles of public international law as are generally recognised by the family of nations" (Alcom Ltd. v. Republic of Colombia  A.C. 580, 597 per Lord Diplock). So also as I see it must the Convention be interpreted.
The original concept of the immunity of a Head of State in customary international law in part arose from the fact that he or she was a Monarch who by reason of personal dignity and respect ought not to be impleaded in a foreign State: it was linked no less to the idea that the Head of State was, or represented, the State and that to sue him was tantamount to suing an independent State extra-territorially, something which the comity of nations did not allow. Moreover, although the concepts of State immunity and Sovereign immunity have different origins, it seems to me that the latter is an attribute of the former and that both are essentially based on the principles of Sovereign independence and dignity, see for example, Suchariktul in his report to the International Law Commission (1980) Vol. II Doc. A (LN 4--331 and Add.J.) Marshall C.J. in the Schooner Exchange v. M'Faddon (1812) 11 US (7 Cranch) 116.
In the Duke of Brunswick v. The King of Hanover (1848) 2 H.L. Cas. 1 the Duke claimed that the King of Hanover had been involved in the removal of the Duke from his position as reigning Duke and in the maladministration of his estates. The Lord Chancellor said:
"A foreign Sovereign, coming into this country cannot be made responsible here for an act done in his Sovereign character in his own country; whether it be an act right or wrong, whether according to the constitution of that country or not, the Courts of this country cannot sit in judgment upon an act of a Sovereign, effected by virtue of his Sovereign authority abroad, an act not done as a British subject, but supposed to be done in the exercise of his authority vested in him as Sovereign."
He further said:
"If it be a matter of sovereign authority, we cannot try that fact, whether it be right or wrong. The allegation that it is contrary to the laws of Hanover, taken in conjunction with the allegation of the authority under which the defendant had acted, must be conceded to be an allegation, not that it was contrary to the existing laws as regulating the right of individuals, but that it was contrary to the laws and duties and rights and powers of a Sovereign exercising Sovereign authority. If that be so, it does not require another observation to shew, because it has not been doubted, that no Court in this country can entertain questions to bring Sovereigns to account for their acts done in their sovereign capacities abroad."
This case has been cited since both in judicial decisions and in the writing of jurists and in Buttes Gas and Oil Co. v. Hammer  A.C. 888 was said by Lord Wilberforce to be "a case in this House which is still authoritative and which has influenced the law both here and overseas" (p. 932). In Hatch v. Baez (1876) 7 Hun. 596, the plaintiff claimed that he had suffered injuries in the Dominican Republic as a result of acts done by the defendant in his official capacity of President of that Republic. The Court accepted that because the defendant was in New York, he was within the territorial jurisdiction of the State. The Court said, however:
"But the immunity of individuals from suits brought in foreign tribunals for acts done within their own States, in the exercise of the sovereignty thereof, it is essential to preserve the peace and harmony of nations, and has the sanction of the most approved writers on international law. It is also recognised in all the judicial decisions on the subject that have come to my knowledge . . .
"The fact that the defendant has ceased to be president of St. Domingo does not destroy his immunity. That springs from the capacity in which the acts were done, and protects the individual who did them, because they emanated from a foreign and friendly government."
Jurists since have regarded this principle as still applying to the position of a former Head of State. Thus in the 9th edition of Oppenheim's International Law (1992 Sir Robert Jennings, Q.C. and Sir Arthur Watts, Q.C.) it is said that a Head of State enjoys all the privileges set out as long as he holds that position (i.e. ratione personae) but that thereafter he may be sued in respect of obligations of a private character.
"For his official acts as Head of State, he will like any other agent of the State enjoy continuing immunity."
Satow in Guide to Diplomatic Practice, Fifth Edition, is to the same effect. Having considered the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, the New York Convention on Special Missions of 1969 and the European Convention on State Immunity, the editors conclude at page 9:
"2. The personal status of a head of a foreign state therefore continues to be regulated by long established rules of customary international law which can be stated in simple terms. He is entitled to immunity--probably without exception--from criminal and civil jurisdiction."
"2.4. A head of state who has been deposed or replaced or has abdicated or resigned is of course no longer entitled to privileges or immunities as a head of state. He will be entitled to continuing immunity in regard to acts which he performed while head of state, provided that the acts were performed in his official capacity; in this his position is no different from that of any agent of the state. He cannot claim to be entitled to privileges as of right, although he may continue to enjoy certain privileges in other states on a basis of courtesy."
In his Hague Lectures on "The Legal Position in International Law on Heads of States et al", Sir Arthur Watts, Q.C. wrote that a former Head of State had no immunity in respect of his private activities taking place whilst he was Head of State. "A Head of State's official acts, performed in his public capacity as Head of State, are however subject to different considerations. Such acts are acts of the State rather than the Head of State's personal acts and he cannot be sued for them even after he has ceased to be Head of State" ().
One critical difference between a Head of State and the State of course resides in the fact that a Head of State may resign or be removed. As these writers show, customary international law whilst continuing to hold immune the Head of State for acts performed in such capacity during his tenure of the office, did not hold him immune from personal acts of his own. The distinction may not always be easy to draw, but examples can be found. On the one side in the United States was Hatch v. Baez to which I have referred, and Nobili v. Charles I of Austria (1921) (Annual Digest of Public International Law Cases, Volume I 1932, Case No. 90, page 136). On the other side, in France is the case of Mellerio v. Isabel de Bourbon ex Queen of Spain, Journal of International Law (1974) (page 32); more recently the former King Farouk was held not immune from suits for goods supplied to his former wife whilst he was Head of State (Review Critique 1964, page 689).
The reasons for this immunity as a general rule both for the actual and a former Head of State still have force and, despite the changes in the role and the person of the Head of State in many countries, the immunity still exists as a matter of customary international law. For an actual Head of State as was said in United States of America v. Noriega (1990) 746 F. Supp. 1506 the reason was to ensure that "leaders are free to perform their Governmental duties without being subject to detention, arrest or embarrassment in a foreign country's legal system." There are in my view analogous if more limited reasons for continuing to apply the immunity ratione materiae in respect of a former Head of State.
Rules of customary international law change, however, and as Lord Denning, M.R. said in Trendtex Trading Corporation v. Central Bank of Nigeria  1 Q.B. 529, "we should give effect to those changes and not be bound by any idea of stare decisis in international law". Thus, for example, the concept of absolute immunity for a Sovereign has changed to adopt a theory of restrictive immunity in so far as it concerns the activities of a State engaging in trade (I Congresso del Partido  A.C. 244). One must therefore ask is there "sufficient evidence to show that the rule of international law has changed?" (p. 556).
This principle of immunity has, therefore, to be considered now in the light of developments in international law relating to what are called international crimes. Sometimes these developments are through Conventions. Thus, for example, the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages 1979 provides that:
"Any person who seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure . . . another person . . . in order to compel a third party, namely a State, an international inter-governmental organisation, a natural or juridical person, or a group of persons, to do or to abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage commits the offence of taking hostages."
States undertake to prosecute if they do not extradite an offender (any offender "without exception whatsoever") through proceedings in accordance with the law of that State, but subject to "enjoyment of all the rights and guarantees provided by the law of the State in the territory of which he is present." This Convention entered into force on 3 June 1983 and was enacted in the United Kingdom in the Taking of Hostages Act 1982 which came into force on 26 November 1982.
By the Genocide Convention of 1948,
"the Contracting Parties confirmed that genocide (being any of the acts specified in article II of the Convention), whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and punish".
By article IV,
"Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals."
The Genocide Act 1969 made the acts specified in article II of the Convention the criminal offence of genocide, but it is to be noted that article IV of the Convention which on the face of it would cover a Head of State was not enacted as part of domestic law. It is, moreover, provided in article VI that persons charged with genocide "shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory in which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction." It seems to me to follow that if an immunity otherwise exists, it would only be taken away in respect of the State where the crime was committed or before an international tribunal.
There have in addition been a number of Charters or Statutes setting up international tribunals, there is the Nuremberg Charter in 1945 which gave jurisdiction to try crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity (Article 6). By Article 7 "the official position of defendants, whether as a Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment." A similar provision was found in the Tokyo Convention. In 1993 the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was given power to prosecute persons "responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law" including grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, torture and taking civilians as hostages, genocide, crimes against humanity "when committed in armed conflict whether international or internal in character, and directed against any civilian population" including murder, torture, persecution on political racial or religious grounds. In dealing with individual criminal responsibility it is provided in Article 7 that "the official position of any accused person whether as Head of State or Government or as a responsible Government Official shall not relieve such person of criminal responsibility."
The Statute of the International tribunal for Rwanda (1994) also empowered the tribunal to prosecute persons committing genocide and specified crimes against humanity "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population on national political ethnic or other specified grounds." The same clause as to Head of State as in the Yugoslav tribunal is in this Statute.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides for jurisdiction in respect of genocide as defined, crimes against humanity as defined but in each case only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this statute. Official capacity as a Head of State or Government shall in no case exempt the person from criminal responsibility under this statute. Although it is concerned with jurisdiction, it does indicate the limits which States were prepared to impose in this area on the tribunal.
There is thus no doubt that States have been moving towards the recognition of some crimes as those which should not be covered by claims of State or Head of State or other official or diplomatic immunity when charges are brought before international tribunals.
Movement towards the recognition of crimes against international law is to be seen also in the decisions of National Courts, in the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations 1946, in the reports of the International Law Commission and in the writings of distinguished international jurists.
It has to be said, however, at this stage of the development of international law that some of those statements read as aspirations, as embryonic. It does not seem to me that it has been shown that there is any State practice or general consensus let alone a widely supported convention that all crimes against international law should be justiciable in National Courts on the basis of the universality of jurisdiction. Nor is there any jus cogens in respect of such breaches of international law which require that a claim of State or Head of State immunity, itself a well established principle of international law, should be overridden. I am not satisfied that even now there would be universal acceptance of a definition of crimes against humanity. They had their origin as a concept after the 1914 War and were recognised in the Nuremberg Tribunal as existing at the time of international armed conflicts. Even later it was necessary to spell out that humanitarian crimes could be linked to armed conflict internally and that it was not necessary to show that they occurred in international conflict. This is no doubt a developing area but states have proceeded cautiously.
That international law crimes should be tried before international tribunals or in the perpetrator's own state is one thing; that they should be impleaded without regard to a long-established customary international law rule in the Courts of other states is another. It is significant that in respect of serious breaches of "intransgressible principles of international customary law" when tribunals have been set up it is with carefully defined powers and jurisdiction as accorded by the states involved; that the Genocide Convention provides only for jurisdiction before an international tribunal or the Courts of the state where the crime is committed, that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lays down jurisdiction for crimes in very specific terms but limits its jurisdiction to future acts.
So, starting with the basic rule to be found both in Article 39(2) and in customary international law that a former Head of State is entitled to immunity from arrest or prosecution in respect of official acts done by him in the exercise of his functions as Head of State, the question is what effect, if any, the recognition of acts as international crimes has in itself on that immunity. There are two extreme positions. The first is that such recognition has no effect. Head of State immunity is still necessary for a former Head of State in respect of his official acts; it is long established, well recognised and based on sound reasons. States must be treated as recognising it between themselves so that it overrides any criminal act, whether national or international. This is a clear cut rule, which for that reason has considerable attraction. It, however, ignores the fact that international law is not static and that the principle may be modified by changes introduced in State practice, by Conventions and by the informed opinions of international jurists. Just as it is now accepted that, contrary to an earlier principle of absolute immunity, States may limit State immunity to acts of sovereign authority (acta jure imperii) and exclude commercial acts (acta jure gestionis) as the United Kingdom has done and just as the immunity of a former Head of State is now seen to be limited to acts which he did in his official capacity and to exclude private acts, so it is argued, the immunity should be treated as excluding certain acts of a criminal nature.
The opposite extreme position is that all crimes recognised as, or accepted to be, international crimes are outside the protection of the immunity in respect of former Heads of State. I do not accept this. The fact even that an act is recognised as a crime under international law does not mean that the Courts of all States have jurisdiction to try it, nor in my view does it mean that the immunity recognised by States as part of their international relations is automatically taken away by international law. There is no universality of jurisdiction for crimes against international law: there is no universal rule that all crimes are outside immunity ratione materiae.
There is, however, another question to be asked. Does international law now recognise that some crimes are outwith the protection of the former Head of State immunity so that immunity in Article 39 (2) is equally limited as part of domestic law; if so, how is that established? This is the core question and it is a difficult question.
It is difficult partly because changes in international law take place slowly as states modify existing principles. It is difficult because in many aspects of this problem the appropriate principles of international law have not crystallised. There is still much debate and it seems to me still much uncertainty so that a national judge should proceed carefully. He may have to say that the position as to State practice has not reached the stage when he can identify a positive rule at the particular time when he has to consider the position. This is clearly shown by the developments which have taken place in regard to crimes against humanity. The concept that such crimes might exist was as I have said recognised, for Nuremburg and the Tokyo Tribunals in 1946 in the context of international armed conflict when the tribunals were given jurisdiction to try crimes against humanity. The Affirmation of the Principles of International Law adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1945, the International Law Commission reports and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms also recognised these crimes as international crimes. Since then there have been, as I have shown, conventions dealing with specific crimes and tribunals have been given jurisdiction over international crimes with a mandate not to treat as a defence to such crimes the holding of official office including that of Head of State. National Courts as in the Eichmann Case held that they had jurisdiction to deal with international crimes (see also Re Honecker (1984) 80 I.L.R. 36, and Demanjanjuk 776 F 2d 511).
But except in regard to crimes in particular situations before international tribunals these measures did not in general deal with the question as to whether otherwise existing immunities were taken away. Nor did they always specifically recognise the jurisdiction of, or confer jurisdiction on, National Courts to try such crimes.
I do not find it surprising that this has been a slow process or that the International Law Commission eventually left on one side its efforts to produce a convention dealing with Head of State immunity. Indeed, until Prosecutor v. Tadic (105 I.L.R. 419) after years of discussion and perhaps even later there was a feeling that crimes against humanity were committed only in connection with armed conflict even if that did not have to be international armed conflict.
If the States went slowly so must a national judge go cautiously in finding that this immunity in respect of former Heads of State has been cut down. Immunity, it must be remembered, reflects the particular relationship between states by which they recognise the status and role of each others Head and former Head of State.
So it is necessary to consider what is needed, in the absence of a general international convention defining or cutting down Head of State immunity, to define or limit the former Head of State immunity in particular cases. In my opinion it is necessary to find provision in an international convention to which the State asserting, and the State being asked to refuse, the immunity of a former Head of State for an official act is a party; the convention must clearly define a crime against international law and require or empower a state to prevent or prosecute the crime, whether or not committed in its jurisdiction and whether or not committed by one of its nationals; it must make it clear that a National Court has jurisdiction to try a crime alleged against a former Head of State, or that having been a Head of State is no defence and that expressly or impliedly the immunity is not to apply so as to bar proceedings against him. The convention must be given the force of law in the National Courts of the State; in a dualist country like the United Kingdom that means by legislation, so that with the necessary procedures and machinery the crime may be prosecuted there in accordance with the conditions to be found in the convention.
In that connection it is necessary to consider when the pre-existing immunity is lost. In my view it is from the date when the national legislation comes into force, although I recognise that there is an argument that it is when the convention comes into force, but in my view nothing earlier will do. Acts done thereafter are not protected by the immunity; acts done before, so long as otherwise qualifying, are protected by the immunity. It seems to me wrong in principle to say that once the immunity is cut down in respect of particular crimes it has gone even for acts done when the immunity existed and was believed to exist. Equally, it is artificial to say that an evil act can be treated as a function of a Head of State until an international convention says that the act is a crime when it ceases ex post facto to have been a function. If that is the right test, then it gives a clear date from which the immunity was lost. This may seem a strict test and a cautious approach, but in laying down when States are to be taken to be taken as abrogating a long established immunity it is necessary to be satisfied that they have done so.
The Crimes Alleged
What is the position in regard to the three groups of crimes alleged here: torture, genocide and taking hostages?
The Torture Convention of 10 December 1984 defines torture as severe pain or suffering intentionally inflicted for specific purposes, "by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."
Each State Party is to ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law and to establish jurisdiction over offences committed in its territory, or by a national of that State or, if the State considers it appropriate, when the victim is a national of that State (Article 5). It must also establish jurisdiction where, "the alleged offender is present under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite pursuant to Article 8." Thus, where a person is found in the territory of a State in the cases contemplated in Article 5, then the State must, by Article 7: "if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution." States are to give each other the greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal proceedings.
The important features of this Convention are: (1) that it involves action "by a public official or other person acting in an official capacity"; (2) that by Articles 5 and 7, if not extradited, the alleged offender must be dealt with as laid down; and (3) Chile was a State Party to this Convention and it therefore accepted that, in respect of the offence of torture, the United Kingdom should either extradite or take proceedings against offending officials found in its jurisdiction.
That Convention was incorporated into English law by section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Section 134(1) and (2) provides:
"(1) A public official or person acting in an official capacity, whatever his nationality, commits the offence of torture if in the United Kingdom or elsewhere he intentionally inflicts severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his official duties."
"(2) A person not falling within subsection (1) above commits the offence of torture, whatever his nationality, if:- (a) in the United Kingdom or elsewhere he intentionally inflicts severe pain or suffering on another at the instigation or with the consent or acquiescence:- (i) of a public official; or (ii) of a person acting in an official capacity; and (b) the official or other person is performing or purporting to perform his official duties when he instigates the commission of the offence or consents to or acquiesces in it."
If committed other than in the United Kingdom lawful authority, justification or excuse under the law of the place where the torture was inflicted is a defence, but in Chile the constitution forbids torture.
It is thus plain that torture was recognised by the State Parties as a crime which might be committed by the persons, and be punishable in the States, referred to. In particular, the Convention requires that the alleged offender, if found in the territory of a State Party, shall be, if not extradited, submitted to the prosecution authorities.
This, however, is not the end of the enquiry. The question remains--have the State Parties agreed, and in particular have the United Kingdom and Chile, which asserts the immunity, agreed that the immunity enjoyed by a former Head of State for acts ratione materiae, shall not apply to alleged crimes of torture? That depends on whether a Head of State, and therefore a former Head of State, is covered by the words "a public official or a person acting in that capacity". As a matter of ordinary usage, it can obviously be argued that he is. But your Lordships are concerned with the use of the words in their context in an international Convention. I find it impossible to ignore the fact that in the very Conventions and Charters relied on by the appellants as indicating that jurisdiction in respect of certain crimes was extended from 1945 onwards, there are specific provisions in respect of Heads of State as well as provisions covering officials. These provisions may relate to jurisdiction, or to the removal of a defence, and immunity of course is different from each, both as a concept and in that it is only pleadable in bar to proceedings in National Courts. These provisions do, however, serve as a guide to indicate whether States have generally accepted that former Heads of State are to be regarded as "public officials" and accordingly that the immunity has been taken away from former Heads of State in the Torture Convention.
Thus, in the Nuremberg Charter 1945 (Article 7), the official position of defendants "whether as Heads of State or responsible officials" does not free them from responsibility. In the Genocide Convention (1948) persons committing the act shall be punished "whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals". In the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals,
"The official position of any accused person, whether as Head of State or Government or as a responsible Government official"
is not a defence (Article 7). Even as late as the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court by Article 27 "official capacity as a Head of State or Government ... or Government official" is not exempted from criminal responsibility.
In these cases, States have not taken the position that the words public or government official are wide enough to cover Heads of State or former Heads of State, but that a specific exclusion of a defence or of an objection to jurisdiction on that basis is needed. It is nothing to the point that the reference is only to Head of State. A Head of State on ceasing to be a Head of State is not converted into a public official in respect of the period when he was a Head of State if he was not so otherwise. This is borne out by the experience of the International Law Commission in seeking to produce a draft in respect of State immunity. The reports of its meeting show the difficulties which arose in seeking to deal with the position of a Head of State.
I conclude that the reference to public officials in the Torture Convention does not include Heads of State or former Heads of State, either because States did not wish to provide for the prosecution of Heads of State or former Heads of State or because they were not able to agree that a plea in bar to the proceedings based on immunity should be removed. I appreciate that there may be considerable political and diplomatic difficulties in reaching agreement, but if States wish to exclude the long established immunity of former Heads of State in respect of allegations of specific crimes, or generally, then they must do so in clear terms. They should not leave it to National Courts to do so because of the appalling nature of the crimes alleged.
The second provisional warrant does not mention genocide, though the international warrant and the request for extradition do. The Genocide Convention in Article 6 limits jurisdiction to a tribunal in the territory in which the act was committed and is not limited to acts by public officials. The provisions in Article 4 making "constitutionally responsible rulers" liable to punishment is not incorporated into the English Genocide Act of 1948. Whether or not your Lordships are concerned with the second international warrant and the request for extradition (and Mr. Nicholls, Q.C. submits that you are not), the Genocide Convention does not therefore satisfy the test which I consider should be applied.
The Taking of Hostages Convention which came into force in 1983 and the Taking of Hostages Act 1982 clearly make it a crime for "any person, whatever his nationality" who "in the United Kingdom or elsewhere to take hostages for one of the purposes specified." This again indicates the scope both of the substantive crime and of jurisdiction, but neither the Convention nor the Act contain any provisions which can be said to take away the customary international law immunity as Head of State or former Head of State.
It has been submitted that a number of other factors indicate that the immunity should not be refused by the United Kingdom--the United Kingdom's relations with Chile, the fact that an amnesty was granted, that great efforts have been made in Chile to restore democracy and that to extradite the respondent would risk unsettling what has been achieved, the length of time since the events took place, that prosecutions have already been launched against the respondent in Chile, that the respondent has, it is said, with the United Kingdom Government's approval or acquiescence, been admitted into this country and been received in official quarters. These are factors, like his age, which may be relevant on the question whether he should be extradited, but it seems to me that they are for the Secretary of State (the executive branch) and not for your Lordships on this occasion.
The Alternative Basis--Acts of State--and Non-Justiciability
United States Courts have been much concerned with the defence of act of state as well as of sovereign immunity. They were put largely on the basis of comity between nations beginning with the Schooner Exchange v. M'Faddon (supra). See also Underhill v. Hernandez 168 US 250. In Banco National de Cuba v. Sabbatino 307F 2d 845 (1961) it was said that "the Act of State Doctrine briefly stated that American Courts will not pass on the validity of the acts of foreign governments performed in their capacities as sovereigns within their own territories . . . This doctrine is one of the conflict of laws rules applied by American Courts; it is not itself a rule of international law . . . it stems from the concept of the immunity of the sovereign because "the sovereign can do no wrong" (page 855). See also the 3rd Restatement of the Law paragraph 443/444. In International Association of Machinists v. Opec (649F 2d 134)  the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals took the matter further
"The doctrine of sovereign immunity is similar to the Act of State Doctrine in that it also represents the need to respect the sovereignty of foreign states. The law of sovereign immunity goes to the jurisdiction of the Court. The Act of State Doctrine is not jurisdictional . . . Rather it is a procedural doctrine designed to avoid action in sensitive areas. Sovereign immunity is a principle of international law, recognised in the United States by statutes. It is the states themselves, as defendants, who may claim sovereign immunity."
The two doctrines are separate, but they are often run together. The law of Sovereign immunity is now contained in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (28 USSC-1602) ("F.S.I.A.") in respect of civil matters and many of the decisions on sovereign immunity in the United States turn on the question whether the exemption to a general State immunity from suit falls within one of the specific exemptions. The F.S.I.A. does not deal with criminal Head of State immunity. In the United States the Courts would normally follow a decision of the executive as to the grant or denial of immunity and it is only when the executive does not take a position that "Courts should make an independent determination regarding immunity" (Kravitch S.C.J. in US v. Noriega (7 July 1997)).
In Kirkpatrick v. Environmental Tectonics (493 U.S. 403 110 S. Ct. 701 (1990)) the Court said that, having begun with comity as the basis for the act of State doctrine, the Court more recently regarded it as springing from the sense that if the judiciary adjudicated on the validity of foreign acts of State, it might hinder the conduct of foreign affairs. The Supreme Court said that "Act of State issues only arise when a Court must decide--that is when the outcome of the case turns upon--the effect of official action by a foreign Sovereign" (p. 705).
In English law the position is much the same as it was in the earlier statements of the United States Courts. The act of State doctrine "is to the effect that the Courts of one State do not, as a rule, question the validity or legality of the official acts of another Sovereign State or the official or officially avowed acts of its agents, at any rate in so far as those acts involve the exercise of the State's public authority, purport to take effect within the sphere of the latter's own jurisdiction and are not in themselves contrary to international law" (Oppenheim 9th edition, page 365). In Buttes Gas (supra), Lord Wilberforce spoke of the normal meaning of acts of State as being "action taken by a Sovereign State within its own territory." In his speech, only a year before International Association of Machinists v. Opec., Lord Wilberforce asked whether, apart from cases concerning acts of British officials outside this country and cases concerned with the examination of the applicability of foreign municipal legislation within the territory of a foreign State, there was not "a more general principle that the Courts will not adjudicate upon the transactions of foreign Sovereign States"--a principle to be considered if it existed "not as a variety of 'acts of State', but one of judicial restraint or abstention".
Despite the divergent views expressed as to what is covered by the Act of State doctrine, in my opinion once it is established that the former Head of State is entitled to immunity from arrest and extradition on the lines I have indicated, United Kingdom Courts will not adjudicate on the facts relied on to ground the arrest, but in Lord Wilberforce's words, they will exercise "judicial restraint or abstention."
Accordingly, in my opinion, the respondent was entitled to claim immunity as a former Head of State from arrest and extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom in respect of official acts committed by him whilst he was Head of State relating to the charges in the provisional warrant of 22 October 1998. I would accordingly dismiss the appeal.