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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law [MPECCoL]

Immunity of Heads of State under Constitutional Law

Ajla Škrbić

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 October 2021

Customary international law — Decisions of international courts — International organizations — Ius gentium — Diplomatic protection — Foreign Affairs — Foreign affairs

General Editors: Rainer Grote, Frauke Lachenmann, Rüdiger Wolfrum.
Managing Editor: Ana Harvey

1 Heads of state traditionally enjoy immunity before domestic courts (heads of state and government). This immunity is applicable both in criminal and civil matters. In criminal matters, a head of state usually enjoys broad immunity from legal proceedings of any kind, including trials. In practice, heads of state may only be prosecuted for serious crimes, such as treason, which, in turn, may only be adjudicated by a higher court in the state concerned. In civil matters, a head of state enjoys immunity for official acts committed while in office. 2 There are two...
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