Abuse of state immunity
Other Names: Misuse of government immunity
Official abuse of crown jurisdictional immunity
Abuse of sovereignty
Nature: There are two different legal approaches to the state immunity: restrictive, which grants immunity only to the public acts of states, and absolutist rule, which says that immunity must also be afforded to their private acts, such as trading contracts and ownership of property.
Incidence: In 1991, the UK High Court ruled that the government can breach its own undertakings to the courts without fear of legal sanction because ministers and officials have Crown immunity against contempt proceedings. The ruling was in respect of the deportation of an asylum-seeker for whom an legal undertaking not to forcibly repatriate had previously been made. The judge said that if the Crown were not immune, and Crown undertakings constituted no more than "unenforceable assurances", the Home Office would have been guilty of contempt.
Claim: The State is the best guarantor of human rights, and their surest champion. Through the actions of States, the concept of human rights has acquired real meaning. But, when States prove unworthy of their sovereign responsibilities, when they violate the fundamental principles laid down in international treaties, when they become tormentors rather than protectors of individuals, then the shield of sovereignty should be removed from such authoritarian regimes that use sovereignty as a sword through which to attack individuals.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET