From these premises, which represent the Enlightenment`s belief in transterritorial and transcultural norms of good and evil, flows universal jurisdiction.  The ongoing trial of former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré in Senegal on the basis of global jurisdiction and the extradition of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori from Chile to Peru are two promising examples of expansion. In recent years, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) has been used by U.S. courts as a form of universal jurisdiction for cases where serious human rights violations have been committed outside the United States. In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court was appointed in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain ruled that the ATS grants federal courts jurisdiction over claims based on specifically defined and generally accepted international legal standards and maintains the link between the ATS and universal jurisdiction. Although the Supreme Court subsequently extended the extraterritorial scope of the ATS (in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (2013)), it left a window open for ATS claims with extraterritorial conduct that sufficiently “affects and affects the territory of the United States.” Universal jurisdiction can be invoked both by a particular nation and by an international tribunal. The result is the same: individuals are held accountable for crimes that are defined and prosecuted, regardless of where they live or where the behavior took place; Crimes that are said to be so serious that they are usually convicted. In particular, Spanish courts have used universal jurisdiction to bring individuals from all over the world to justice.
More recently, however, the Spanish Government has limited the ability of its courts to hear such cases by limiting the legal basis for the exercise of universal jurisdiction to cases that are not already before another competent court and in which Spanish victims, perpetrators residing in Spain or Spanish interests are involved. The Centre for Justice and Accountability provided an analysis of how the amendment to Spanish law modifies human rights disputes in Spain. On 14 February 2002, in the case of the arrest warrant issued by the International Court of Justice, the International Court of Justice concluded that staff members may enjoy immunity under international law for the duration of their mandate. The court held that State officials enjoyed immunity not for their own benefit, but to ensure the effective exercise of their functions on behalf of their respective States. The court also noted that state officials abroad can enjoy immunity from arrest in another state for criminal offenses, including charges of war crimes or crimes against humanity.  But the ICJ limited its findings, stating that state officials “may be prosecuted before certain international criminal courts where they have jurisdiction. These include, for example, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. and the future International Criminal Court”.  Canada is another example of a state that provides for the exercise of universal jurisdiction at the national level in its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, 2000.
In the case of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes within the meaning of the Act, subsection 9(1) provides that, in any territorial division in Canada, proceedings may be instituted for crimes “allegedly committed outside Canada for which a person may be prosecuted under this Act …, whether or not she is in Canada.” Originally used to hold pirates and slave traders accountable for their crimes, the principle of universal jurisdiction now extends to all those who commit some of the most serious human rights violations. The idea of universal jurisdiction was the key to establishing responsibility in several post-World War II trials following the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. In addition, the obligation of States to seek out and prosecute those responsible for serious “violations” of international humanitarian law is an essential aspect of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. The principle was codified for torture in the 1984 Convention on Torture. In November 2011, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission reportedly exercised universal jurisdiction to convict former US President George W. in absentia. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the invasion of Iraq.   In May 2012, the Tribunal again received testimony from victims of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay as part of an alleged exercise of universal jurisdiction, and convicted former President Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General John Yoo and Jay Bybee in absentia, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. and former advisers David Addington and William Haynes II for conspiracy to commit war crimes.  The Tribunal transmitted its findings to the Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  All states parties to the Convention against Torture and the Inter-American Convention are required, if a person suspected of torture is found on their territory, to submit the case to their law enforcement authorities for prosecution or to extradite that person.
In addition, it is now generally accepted that States, including those that are not parties to these treaties, may exercise universal jurisdiction over torture under customary international law.  Eichmann`s defense lawyer argued that Israel had no jurisdiction because Israel only emerged in 1948. The Genocide Convention also did not enter into force until 1951, and the Genocide Convention does not automatically provide for universal jurisdiction. It is also alleged that Israeli agents illegally obtained Eichmann, in violation of international law, when they captured and abducted Eichmann and took him to Israel for trial. The Argentine government has settled the dispute diplomatically with Israel.  Among the wide dissemination of literature around the theory, application and history of universal jurisdiction, there are two approaches: “global application” and “no safe haven”. “Global enforcer” refers to the use of global justice as an active means of preventing and punishing international crimes committed anywhere, while “no safe haven” adopts a more passive tone and refers to the application of this principle to ensure that the country in question is not a territorial safe haven for suspects of international crimes.  The principle of universal jurisdiction allows the national authorities of each state to investigate and prosecute persons for serious international crimes, even if they were committed in another country. This means, for example, that if the German government chose to do so, it could prosecute U.S. officials for crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following this principle, the CCR actively pursued half a dozen cases in several countries to investigate and prosecute Bush administration officials who approved, designed, and implemented the U.S.
torture program without the country`s political will. Learn more about the actions initiated by ccR and our partners in Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. .