Human Rights Council

Item 4 General Debate - Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

20 September 2017

Thank you, Mr. President,

This is a joint statement with Geneva International Centre for Justice.

Mr. President,

We would like to draw this Council’s attention to the impunity of the crimes of aggression, committed by the Former US administration against the country of Iraq in 2003.

The US Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, on the Saleh case, this year decided that the former U.S. officials were immunized, under domestic law, from judicial scrutiny. A party alleged that in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, such officials had violated international treaties that prohibit the crime of aggression. Such officials were immune from civil proceedings under a U.S. law passed in 1988 called the “Westfall Act.”  

The Westfall Act provides former government leaders “official-act” of immunity against civil lawsuits. The Westfall Act was deemed to have greater weight than international treaties and customary international law, even though the norms against aggression are norms for which no derogation is permitted even by sovereign States or their government officials.

We call on this council to have all States ensure that domestic law does not override non derogable norms of international law. The US government should take immediate measures to ensure that government officials are not granted immunity when committing acts that violate international jus cogens norms, including the norms against torture, genocide, or aggression;

Thank you.

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