The case against Pinochet: some legal and political implications

Barker, Craig (1999) The case against Pinochet: some legal and political implications. American Diplomacy, 4 (3). ISSN 1094-8120

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THE ARREST OF SENATOR AUGUSTO PINOCHET at a London hospital on 17 October 1998 and the on-going attempts to extradite him to Spain to face charges there of torture, hostage-taking, and murder have been the subject of great interest and no small amount of debate among international lawyers, human rights activists, and politicians around the world. The case against Pinochet is unprecedented in the United Kingdom not least because it was heard by the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, the highest court of appeal in criminal matters in the United Kingdom, on two separate occasions.1 More generally, the case represents the first serious attempt anywhere in the world to bring to justice a former head of state for offenses allegedly committed in the country of which he was the head of state. The decision of the House of Lords that Pinochet should be extradited to Spain to stand trial has been seized upon by many as a great step forward in the development of international human rights and international law in general. Certainly, the case will stand as a deterrent for former heads of state who have committed acts, such as those allegedly committed by Pinochet, from visiting the United Kingdom. Beyond that, however, the implications of this ruling may be more limited. In particular, in its most recent decision, the House of Lords reduced fundamentally the charges on which Pinochet would be allowed to stand trial in Spain. Furthermore, as the ruling serves as a legal precedent only in the United Kingdom, its implications for international human rights and international law may be limited.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Depositing User: Craig Barker
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:39
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2012 08:58
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