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On 26 April 2012, Charles Ghankay Taylor was convicted by Trial Chamber II of the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Sierra Leone between 30 November 1996 and 18 January 2002. Charles Taylor was charged with and found guilty of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, inhumane acts, enslavement and war crimes, including acts of terror; murder; violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons; outrages upon personal dignity; cruel treatment; pillage; and conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 (fifteen) years into armed forces or groups and using them for active participation in hostilities.
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On this, see Triestino Marincello, ‘Prosecutor v. Taylor’ ( 2013) 107 American Journal of International Law 424.
Letter from the President of Sierra Leone to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan UNDocS/2000/786, Annex.
For background, see Tom Perriello and Marieke Wierda, ‘The Special Court for Sierra Leone Under Scrutiny’ ( 2006) International Center for Transitional Justice; James L Miglin, ‘From Immunity to Impunity: Charles Taylor and the Special Court for Sierra Leone’ ( 2007) 16 Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies 21.
ibid Operative Paragraph 3 [Hereinafter Special Court].
Report of the Secretary-General on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, 4 October 2000, UNDoc.S/2000/915, especially paragraph 9.
Appendix II to the ‘Letter Dated 6 March 2002 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of The Security Council’; text available at < www.rscsl.org> accessed 14 June 2016.
Prosecutor v Charles Ghankay Taylor, Case No. SCSL-03-01, Indictment, 3 March 2003, available at < www.rscsl.org> accessed 14 June 2016.
Abdul Tejan Cole, ‘A Big Man in a Small Cell’ in Ellen L. Lutz and Caitlin Reiger (eds), Prosecuting Heads of State (CUP 2009), 215.
< www.rscsl.org> accessed 14 June 2016.
Article 59 Statute of the ICJ (Annexed to the United Nations Charter), 26 June 1945, 1 UNTS XVI. [United Nations hereinafter referred to as UN].
Statute of the Special Court available at < www.rscsl.org> accessed 14 June 2016.
Under Rule 72(E) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court, Preliminary motions made in the Trial Chamber which raise a serious issue relating to jurisdiction shall be referred to the Appeals Chamber, available at < www.rscsl.org > accessed 14 June 2016.
Prosecutor v Charles Ghankay Taylor (Case No. SCSL-2003-01-1), Decision on Immunity from Jurisdiction, 31 March 2004, 6-8, 12 and , available at < http://www.rscsl.org/Documents/Decisions/Taylor/Appeal/059/SCSL-03-01-I-059.pdf> accessed 14 June 2016; [Hereinafter Taylor case].
(2002) ICJ Reports, 3; [Hereinafter Arrest Warrant case] [International Court of Justice hereinafter referred to as ICJ].
1 UNTS XVI.
Taylor case (n 14) 9, 10, 13, 14.
This means that an equal has no power over an equal, see Bryan A Garner (ed), Black’s Law Dictionary (9 th edn, Thomson Reuters 2009), 1859.
Kerry Creque O’Neill, ‘A New Customary Law of Head of State Immunity? Hirohito and Pinochet’ ( 2002) 38 Stanford Journal of International Law 29.
11 US 116 (1812).
5 P.D. 197 (1880) For a review of other cases establishing the absolute nature of state immunity, see J W Garner, ‘Immunities of State-Owned Ships Employed in Commerce’ ( 1925) 6 British Yearbook of International Law 128.
 P. 30; 1 ILR 149.
 AC 485.
(1952) 26 Dept of State Bulletin 984.
(1977) 1 QB 529.
 AC 244.
State immunity legislations of various countries including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, South Africa etc have all codified this restrictive approach to state immunity. The European Convention on State Immunity 1972, 11 ILM 470, and the United Nations Convention on the Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property 2004 (Adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 59/38 of 16 December 2004, and yet to enter into force) also adopt a restrictive approach to state immunity.
Article 31(1)500 UNTS 95.
UK State Immunity Act 1978, s 20 extends the diplomatic immunities and privileges as provided in the Convention to Heads of State.
Meaning ‘I am the State’, see Ian Sinclair, ‘The Law of Sovereign Immunity: Recent Developments’ ( 1980) 167 II RdC 113,198.
Text of treaty available at < http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/westphal.asp> accessed 14 June 2016.
 AC 160, 175, per Lord Atkins.
 17 QB 171, 206-207.
 6 Beav. 1; (1848) 2 HLC 1.
By the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799).
Udoka Owie, ‘The Pinochet Case: Expounding or Expanding International Law?’ ( 2015) 2 International Journal of International Law 158.
(1957) 24 ILR 228.
844 F. Supp. 128 (E.D.N.Y. 1994); 103 ILR 581.
808 F.2d 1349 (9 th Cir. 1987).
169 F. Supp. 2d 259 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).
The Gaddafi case, (2001) 125 ILR 490.
ibid 493. This does not mean that contemporary international law admits of exceptions to the absolute immunity of Heads of State from foreign jurisdiction; an exception may exist with regard to ‘certain’ international courts where the constitutive instrument establishing the court effectively removes Head of State immunity by the applicability of the pacta tertii rule. Unlike State immunity and diplomatic immunity, there is no international convention on Head of State immunity and the question of Head of State immunity, or any exception, is determined by customary international law which grants absolute immunity to Heads of State from foreign jurisdiction even for international crimes, see The Arrest Warrant Case, (n 15) 57-60.
(2008) ICJ Reports 177.
As did the Philippines in the case against Ferdinand Marcos, see In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 817 F.2d 1108 (4 th Cir.1987) and Haiti in the case against Prosper Avril, see Paul v Avril, 812 F.Supp.207 (S.D. Fla.1993).
Waiver of immunity must be express, see Democratic Republic of Congo v FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (No 1) (2001) 147 ILR 376.
Judgment No.9, 1927, PCIJ Rep, Series A, No. 10.
912 F.2d 1095 (9 th Cir. 1990).
 2 AER. 97,111.
10 December 1984, 1465 UNTS 85.
Pinochet case (n 52), per Lord Saville of Newidgate, 168-169, and Lord Hope, 146-151. See Udoka Owie, (n 37).
12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 31, 85,135 and 287.
Arrest Warrant case (n 15).
Joint Separate Opinions of Higgins et al, Arrest Warrant Case 89.
Provisional Measures Order of 17 June 2003 (2003) ICJ Reports 102.
Lafontant case (n 39).
See also Jimenez v Aristeguieta (1962) 33 ILR 353.
Arret no 1414, 13 March 2001; see also Antonio Remiro Brotons, ‘International Law after the Pinochet Case’ in Madeleine Davis (ed) The Pinochet Case: Origins, Progress and Implications (Institute of Latin American Studies 2003), 241.
(1984) 80 ILR 365.
Paolo Gaeta, ‘Official Capacity and Immunities’ in Antonio Cassese, Paolo Gaeta and John R.W.D Jones (eds), The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary (OUP 2002), 982 (Emphasis supplied).
See Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1155 UNTS 331, Article 34. This argument will be pursued further in the next section of the article.
Owie (n 37).
See Lords Phillips and Hutton in Pinochet No. 3, (n 52).
(2002) ICJ Reports 3, 58.
(2002) ICJ Reports 3, 60.
Dapo Akande, ‘International Law Immunities and the International Criminal Court’ ( 2004) 98 American Journal of International Law 407, 417-418.
Virginia Morris and Michael P. Scharf, An Insider’s Guide to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (Transnational Publishers 1995) 2.
M. Cherif Bassiouni, ‘From Versailles to Rwanda in Seventy-Five Years: The Need to Establish a Permanent International Court’ ( 1997) 10 Harvard Human Rights Journal 11.
82 UNTS 279.
19 January 1946, T.I.A.S. No. 1589, 4 Bevans 20.
(1946)13 ILR 203.
Neil Boister, ‘The Tokyo Trial’ in William Schabas and Nadia Bernaz (eds), Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law (Routledge 2011), 17,18.
See Inter-Allied Declaration of 13 January 1942 reprinted in Inter-Allied Information Committee, Punishment for War Crimes: The Inter-Allied Declaration Signed at St. James’s Palace London on 13 January 1942: and Relative Documents, (HMSO, 1942); Moscow Declaration, available at < http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/moscow.asp> accessed 14 June 2016.
Goering (n 76) 207.
Yearbook of the International Law Commission Volume II (1950).
Resolution 488, 12 December 1950, Principle III.
S/RES/827 (1993), paragraph 2 [Hereinafter referred to as ICTY].
S/RES/955 (1994) [Hereinafter referred to as ICTR].
See Articles 24 and 39 of the Charter of the UN (n 16).
Article 7(2) of the ICTY Statute reprinted in (1993) 32 ILM 1192; Article 6(2) of the ICTR Statute, reprinted in (1994) 33 ILM 1602.
S/RES/827 (1993) and S/RES/955 (1994).
UN (n 16) Article 24.
ibid Articles 39-42.
ibid Article 25.
ibid Article 103 provides:
In the event of a conflict between the obligations of Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.
See Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 2 of Security Council Resolution 808 (1993), UN Doc S/25704, 3 May 1993 ,  where it was recognised that a decision to establish the ICTY under Chapter VII would mean that ‘…all states would be under a binding obligation to take whatever action is required to carry out a decision taken as an enforcement measure under Chapter VII’.
Rome Statute, 2187 UNTS 90, Article 1 [Hereinafter referred to as the Rome Statute].
ibid Article 27(1).
This does not mean that a treaty cannot vary custom for parties, see the North Sea Continental Shelf cases (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark; Federal Republic of Germany/Netherlands), (1969) ICJ Reports 3, .
Rome Statute (n 93) Article 13. As was done by the United Nations Security Council with regard to the situation in Darfur and Libya which involved Omar Bashir and Mouammar Gaddafi, see S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) and S/RES/1970 (26 February 2011).
ibid 93, Article 98. See Hazel Fox and Philippa Webb, The Law of State Immunity (3 rd edn OUP 2013), 555; David J. Scheffer, ‘Developments in International Law: Foreword’ ( 1999) 93 American Journal of International Law 1, 18-20; Madeline Morris, ‘High Crimes and Misconceptions: The ICC and Non-Party States’ ( 2001) 64 Law and Contemporary Problems 13, 13-14; Dapo Akande, ‘The Jurisdiction of the ICC over Nationals of Non-Parties: Legal Basis and Limits’ ( 2003) 1 Journal of International Criminal Justice 618-650.
Akande (n 71) 417.
Agreement to Establish the Special Court of Sierra Leone, (n 9) Article 6.
ibid Article 11.
ibid Article 12.
Statute of the Special Court, (n 12) Article 14.
ibid Article 19.
ibid Article 22.
ibid Article 25.
< www.rscsl.org > accessed 14 June 2016.
Statute of the Special Court (n 12) Articles 12, 15 and 16.
Report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, (n 8) Paragraph 9.
See Prosecutor v Augustine Gbao (Case No. SCSL-2004-15-AR72(E)), Decision on Preliminary Motion on the Invalidity of the Agreement between the UN and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of the Special Court, 25 May 2004, Paragraph 5 and also Prosecutor v Moinina Fofana (Case No. SCSL-2004-14-AR72 (E)), Decision on Preliminary Motion on Lack of Jurisdiction: Illegal Delegation of Powers by the United Nations, 25 May 2004, Paragraphs 23 and 27.
Taylor case (n 14) 37-39.
ibid 39 and 42.
A distinction must be made between the involvement of the Council and the establishment of the Special Court.
S/RES/1315 (2000), Operative Paragraph 1.
Taylor case, (n 14) 38.
Charles Chernor Jalloh argues that the conclusion of the Special Court is undermined by the methodology adopted in arriving at the conclusion as well as the ‘weak justifications’ given in support, see ‘The Contribution of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to the Development of International Law’, ( 2007) 15 African Journal of International and Comparative Law 165, 192, 197-198.
See UN Charter (n 16) Articles 7 and 29.
Or where the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, refers a matter to the ICC, see Rome Statute (n 93) Article 13.
ibid 17(a). Sands argued that the Special Court was an international court with similar competence and jurisdiction to the ICTY, ICTR and the ICC and that it had ‘…the characteristics associated with classical international organisations’. Brief available at < http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/27928AD2-4ECB-4611-95B7-F9F0AE2DBF24/0/Sands.pdf> accessed 14 June 2016.
ibid 44-47, 50.
Arrest Warrant Case (n 15) 61.
Case IT-98-33-A, Decision on Application for Subpoenas, 1 July 2003, [11-12], available at < www.icty.org> accessed 14 June 2016.
Taylor case (n 14).
Taylor case (n 14) 59.
That is the whole essence of amendment of charges in criminal law.
(2002) 34 EHRR 11.
Arrest Warrant case (n 15) 60.
Fox (n 80) 525.
Akande (n 71).
See Blaskic (Subpoena) case, (1997) 110 ILR 607.
In fact, Ghana would have violated its customary law obligation to respect the immunity of Liberia and its Head of State had it arrested Taylor in 2003 when he was still a serving Head of State upon his visit to Ghana for peace talks.
Rome Statute (n 93) Article 87(5).
However, the acts of the Secretary-General are not without legal effect. This is because his involvement in the creation of the Special Court arose from a Security Council recommendation and while these recommendations may not have a binding effect, they may produce effects of legality if taken up by states. However, this alone cannot confer on the Special Court a power it does not lawfully have.
S/RES/1688 (2006). In S/RES/1638 (2005), the Council determined that Taylor’s return to Liberia, i.e. without his standing trial before the Special Court, would constitute an impediment to stability and a threat to the peace of Liberia and to international peace and security in the region. As a result, the Council extended the mandate of UNMIL to include Taylor’s arrest and transfer to Sierra Leone for prosecution by the Special Court. See Alexander Orakhelashvili, ‘The Power of the UN Security Council to Determine the Existence of a Threat to the Peace’ ( 2006) 1 Irish Yearbook of International Law 61, 83.
On non-retroactivity of Security Council Resolutions, see Lockerbie Case, Preliminary Objection (1998) ICJ Reports 9, ; Marko Divac Öberg, ‘The Legal Effect of Resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly in the Jurisprudence of the ICJ’ ( 2006) 16 European Journal of International Law 879, 893.
(1986) 25 ILM 543. The Convention is not yet in force but its provisions are reflective of customary international law. Article 34 of the Convention is in pari materia with Article 34 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969, (n 65).
See S/RES/1315 (2000), S/RES 1620 (2005).
See S/RES/1562 (2004); S/RES/1610 (2005).
See (South West Africa) Advisory Opinion, (1971) ICJ Reports 16 , 114.
Lord Hewart, C.J in Dickinson v Del Solar; Mobile and General Insurance Co. Ltd (3 rd Party), 5 ILR 299. See also Arrest Warrant case, (n 15) 60; Yoram Dinstein, ‘Diplomatic Immunity from Jurisdiction Ratione Materiae’ ( 1966) 15 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 76, 81.
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- The Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Question of Head of State Immunity in International Law: Revisiting the Decision in Prosecutor v Charles Ghankay Taylor
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