ICJ welcomes decision to lift Pinochet’s immunity

Today, the ICJ welcomed the decision of the Chilean Supreme Court of Justice to strip Senator Augusto Pinochet of his parliamentary immunity.

This landmark decision is a victory for the Rule of Law which demands the pursuit of justice.

The ICJ, however, is concerned that some obstacles to justice remain, in particular the Amnesty law of 1978 and the military courts.

The ICJ calls on the Chilean authorities to repeal the 1978 Amnesty law (Legal Decree No. 2.191) which establishes a broad amnesty protecting all members of the military and the security forces for crimes of murder, kidnapping, forced disappearance or torture. This law has been declared incompatible with Chile’s international obligations by both the UN Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The ICJ calls on the Chilean authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure that the criminal investigation into crimes against humanity committed during the military regime led by Pinochet remain under the jurisdiction of the civil courts – as opposed to military courts – and that all perpetrators of gross human rights violations be brought to justice in accordance with international human rights law, irrespective of the identity or rank of the perpetrator or the passage of time.

Since its beginning, the ICJ has closely followed developments in the Pinochet case. In 1999, it published the report Crimes Against Humanity – Pinochet Faces Justice. It provides an authoritative legal analysis of the case with particular emphasis on its implications for the growth of universal jurisdiction. That principle provides for the prosecution of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide irrespective of where they are committed and the location and nationality of either perpetrator or victim.

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