The United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold Library in New York has reported that its most popular book of 2015 was Immunity of Heads of State and State Officials for International Crimes — a doctoral thesis by Ramona Pedretti.
The contents of the book as recorded in the United Nations Bibliographic Information System states that:
“The immunity of heads of state and other state officials as rules of customary international law — Immunity of heads of state and other state officials from the criminal jurisdiction of a foreign state — Immunity of heads of state and other state officials from international or internationalised criminal jurisdiction — Interdependency between immunity from criminal jurisdiction of a foreign state and immunity from international criminal jurisdiction — Conclusion on immunity of heads of state and other state officials under contemporary customary international law — Ultra vires action and individual criminal responsibility — The principle of universal jurisdiction and the obligation aut dedere aut judicare — The character of jus cogens norms and the international ordre public — Conclusion on the relationship between principles relating to crimes pursuant to international law and immunity of — heads of state and other state officials.”
What was our most popular book of 2015? Find it in our library catalogue! (UN only) @twitter — UN Library (@UNLibrary) December 31, 2015
In Africa, the African Union at its 23rd Ordinary Session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea adopted an amendment to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to immunize African leaders accused of committing serious human rights violations from criminal prosecution before the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
Article 46A bis of the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights provides:
“No charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving African Union Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office.”
However, Article 27(1) of the Rome Statute of the ICC, on Irrelevance of official capacity states that,
“1. This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.
2. Immunities or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.”
Currently, one is sitting head of state face prosecution at the ICC for crimes against humanity and other crimes. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has also been charged with indirectly committing crimes against humanity. Initially, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta faced prosecution before the ICC prosecutor withdrew his charges.