Brussels First Instance Tribunal, Labour Prosecutor et al. v X et al., Nr. 21.N.003187, 15 December 2021
A former diplomat and his wife are condemned in absentia for the crimes of human trafficking and unlawful imprisonment on account of their exploitation of a domestic worker. The Tribunal asserts that, pursuant to Article 39 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomat whose function has come to an end enjoys immunity only in respect of those acts that were performed in the exercise of this function. The exploitation of domestic workers in the diplomat’s private residence does not qualify as such, and is accordingly not covered by diplomatic immunity.
Belgian Supreme Court, A. A., Nr. P.18.1301.N, 2 January 2019
The case concerns an Iranian diplomat working at the embassy in Vienna (Austria), who was arrested in Germany and extradited to Belgium to face criminal charges for alleged involvement in terrorist activities. The Court acknowledges that diplomats enjoy inviolability when they are ‘in transit’ to or from the receiving State as part of their diplomatic assignment pursuant to Article 40(1) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. However, this inviolability does not apply where a diplomat returns to the receiving State from a holiday in a third country.
Belgian Supreme Court, NML Capital Ltd v Republic of Argentina, Nr. C.13.0537.F, 11 December 2014
According to the Court, the right of access to court, as enshrined in Article 6 ECHR, cannot be invoked to force a State to set aside the customary rule of immunity from execution, which seeks to ensure the proper functioning of diplomatic missions and to promote friendly relations between sovereign States. The Court rejects the argument that immunity from execution must be set aside when no alternative means of legal redress are available.
Belgian Supreme Court, Republic of Argentina v. NMC Capital LTD, Nr. C.11.0688.F, 22 November 2012
The judgment annuls a previous judgment by the Brussels Court of Appeals dated 21 June 2011. In the latter judgment , the Court of Appeals took the view that Argentina’s general waiver of immunity from jurisdiction and immunity from execution also covered the goods of Argentina’s diplomatic mission in Belgium, including its bank accounts (without there being a need to verify whether the amounts seized were used for purposes other than the functioning of the diplomatic mission). According to the Supreme Court, this approach violated articles 22, 3 and 25 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the customary rule of ‘ne impediatur legatio’. In particular, the Supreme Court confirmed the need for an explicit and specific waiver of immunity in respect of goods of the diplomatic mission.
Council of State, B.A.R. Belgium, NV Sabena and Deutsche Lufthansa AG v Municipality of Zaventem; Belgian State v Municipality of Zaventem. Judgment Nr. 144.081, 3 May 2005
Article 15 of the 1944 Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation – which was duly ratified by Belgium and published in the Official Gazette – stipulates that ‘[n]o fees, dues or other charges shall be imposed by any contracting State in respect solely of the right of transit over or entry into or exit from its territory of any aircraft of a contracting State or persons or property thereon’. According to the Council of State, it is clear from the language and intention of the States Parties that this provision is self-executing. Accordingly, the applicants can succesfully invoke the provision to annull a decree of the municipality of Zaventem introducing a tax on airlines flying to and from Brussels international airport.