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The case was about a law of universal jurisdiction that was passed by Belgian parliament allowing anyone involved in all crimes against humanity or genocide to be accused. In 2001, four Rwandan were convicted and sentenced to between twelve and twenty years in prison, which sparked a myriad of suits concerning the rule. In 2000, the court issued an arrest warrant for the then minister of foreign affairs in the government of Democratic Republic of Congo, Abdoulaye Ndombasi but was challenged in the International Court of Justice. The case was handed down on February 14, 2002 in the International Criminal Court.
Resting on the court’s ruling, it was found that the arrest warrant circulated by Belgium on the incumbent minister of foreign affairs had no respect to the immunity a person enjoys from criminal jurisdiction and that the arrest warrant must be cancelled. This court decision, which has no appeal, was reached on a vote of 13 against 3 and ordered the kingdom of Belgium to withdraw the warrant wherever it had been, circulated (Dugard, 2007). It was found that the application of DRC was not without object and that it was acceptable.
In this case, the court narrowed its scope of judgment as it rejected the argument with Belgium because the parties never raised the key issue that lead to dispute. It failed to implement its ostensible universal jurisdiction, due to the fact that the clause of genocide or crimes against humanity was missing in the final submission (Kelsen, 2003). The court emphasized that while jurisdictional immunity is natural, jurisdictional immunity is a question of substantive law.
On reference to the small number of cases decided by the national high courts, e.g. The French Court of Cassation, this immunity on criminal jurisdiction was not granted to state officials for personal benefit, but to ensure effective performance of their duties on behalf of their own country. The provision is also could not have been considered much in the efforts to fight impunity and to protect the natives from crimes against humanity brought about by those in power.
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