virtue of their office. Immunity ratione materiae: A form of immunity attaching to the officialacts of State officials / agents (so the focus is on the act, not the person). Heads of StateSee s. 20 of the UK State Immunity Acttreats heads of state as like headsof diplomatic mission, enjoying complete personal inviolability andabsolute immunity from criminal jurisdiction ratione personae, althoughthere is no immunity in civil matters for acts done in a personal capacity. Under international law, immunity ratione personaeapplies also to headsof government and ministers for foreign affairs.R. v. Bow Street Magistrates ex p. Pinochet,  1 A.C. 147 (HL)-Heads of state enjoy ratione materiae-Key question: Is something like torture considered an official act whenit is an absolute prohibition?On leaving office Heads of State enjoy immunity ratione materiae inrelation to official acts performed in office (one of the key questions inPinochet was whether torture could constitute an official act and thus becovered by immunity ratione materiae).Heads of Government; Ministers of Foreign Affairs:On Ministers of Foreign Affairs see Arrest Warrant(ICJ 2002)-Foreign ministers will have the same protection as Heads of StatesOther State Officials: The prevailing view is that, outside of the specific offices detailed above,state officials enjoy immunity ratione materiae(that is, immunity basedon the official / state character of the acts, not their personal status /office). -Only have immunity regards to acts officially carried outOn defence ministers see Re Barak(2009) 80 BYIL 541 -In Barak (case form Israel) , it was held that there is the sameimmunity from defense minister as the foreign mister justified by thearrest warrant but this case is highly disputed as being incorrectPage 8 of 15
Prof Aoife O’DonoghuePublic International LawState Immunity The (Key) CasesJurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v Italy) (ICJ, 2012)ICJ Rep 2012, 99-Two issues: Italian trying to have conversation with German government forWWIIExecution of judgment: Greek enforcement of judgments againstGermany in Italian courts, because property was in Italy.-Germany said Italian was violating international obligations by notgiving immunity to Germany-First held Italian has jurisdiction over compensation. Nature of crimescommitted that allowed Italian court. Jurisdiction Immunity does notextend to war crimes.-Court does refer to the drafting source of ILC that led to theConvention. good source for reference-Not only are you entitled the immunity, you have the responsibility torespect other’s immunity-Italy’s firstargument: Under customary international, there is noimmunity in cases involving death, damage to property etc-ICJ said that immunity of acts (immunity imperiae) continues throughcivil proceedings if it’s under state authority-Italy’s secondargument: Gravity of the violation. Because we’retalking about war crimes, crimes against humanity, Germany shouldnot have immunity.