Immunity for serving Heads of State for crimes under International Criminal Law: an analysis of the ICC-indictment against Omar Al Bashir
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This paper analyses head of state immunity, a traditional rule of international law, in relation to the indictments by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 against the current Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir. It can be agreed that the doctrine of immunity in international law attempts to overcome the tension between the protection of human rights and the demands of state sovereignty. The statutes and decisions of international criminal courts make it clear that no immunity for international crimes shall be attached to heads of states or to senior government officials. However, the case against the Sudanese President, where the jurisdiction of the ICC was triggered by the UN Security Council‟s referral of the situation in Darfur to the Court, represents the first case where a serving head of state has, in fact, been indicted before the ICC. From this case, a number of legal issues have arisen; such as the questions where the ICC‟s jurisdiction over an incumbent head of state, not party to the ICC Statute, is justified, and the obligations upon ICC state parties to surrender such a head of state to the requesting international criminal court. This paper gives an analysis of these questions.