Arancibia Clavel

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Duty to Prosecute | Statute of Limitations | Crimes Against Humanity | Jus Cogens

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Related Crimes

The Court classified Mr. Arancibia Clavel's conduct as a crime against humanity ("illicit association), since the group that he was a part of was aimed at persecuting political opponents by means of homicide, enforced disappearances and torture committed with the acquiesence of State officials. It recalled that the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute's definition of a crime against humanity includes any action contributing to the commission, or attempt to commit the crime, by a group of people having a common purpose. The Court added that if homicides, torture and enforced disappearance are considered crimes against humanity, then forming part of an association aimed at the commission of them must be also included in the definition. The Court also made reference to the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, holding that the State’s ratification of the treaty only gave official sanction to a previously existing definition of crimes against humanity under international law.

The Court found that statutes of limitation are inapplicable to crimes against humanity, as the magnitude and significance of these crimes remain relevant for the entire society and for the international community despite time passing. The Court also referred to the Convention on the Imprescriptibility of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity and held that its ratification by the State after the events took place merely recognised an already existing norm of jus cogens based on customary international law.

Judgment Date

August 24, 2004

Country

Argentina

Judicial Body

Argentina - Supreme Court

Articles violated

Article 210 [ACC]

Facts of the Case

From March 1974 until November 1978, Mr. Enrique Lautaro Arancibia Clavel was part of the Directorate of National Intelligence, an agency of de facto government of Chile. The agency’s activities consisted of persecuting political opponents of the Chilean regime exiled in Argentina, including kidnapping and interrogation under torture.

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