Constitutional Court, F.H et al. v Kingdom of Belgium, Nr. 163/2022, 8 December 2022
In March 2022, Belgium and Iran concluded a treaty pertaining to the transfer of convicted persons, meant to allow persons sentenced in one country to serve the remainder of their prison sentence in the territory of the other. The Belgian law approving the treaty was, however, challenged on the basis of the right to life. In particular, the applicants asserted that the treaty was meant to enable the exchange of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat convicted in Belgium in connection with a failed State-sponsored terrorist attack against a meeting of Iranian opposition groups, against the Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who had been detained in Iran for unknown charges.
According to the Court, Belgium was or should be aware that if it transferred Assadi, Iran would not execute the sentence, but would instead grant him a pardon or amnesty pursuant to Article 13 of the Treaty. In such circumstances, the Court held that such transfer would violate the right to life of the victims of the foiled terrorist bombing. The Court thereby relied on the Strasbourg Court’s case law according to which the execution of a sentence that is imposed in the context of the right to life must be considered an integral part of the State’s procedural obligation under Article 2 of the ECHR. In conclusion, pending a definitive ruling on its constitutionality, the Court suspended the law in so far as the treaty permitted the transfer to Iran of persons that have been convicted for committing a terrorist offence with the support of Iran.
Constitutional Court, NML Capital Ltd & Yukos Universal Limited, Nr. 48/2017, 27 April 2017
The Constitutional Court examines two actions for annulment filed by the companies NML Capital and Yukos Universal against the law of 23 August 2015 introducing Article 1412quinquies of the Judicial Code, which provides for a far-reaching immunity from execution for property of foreign States or international organizations. In light of the case-law of the Strasbourg Court, the Court acknowledges that restrictions on the right to access to Court and the right to property that stem from immunity of execution for property of foreign States are accepted inasmuch as they reflect generally recognized international immunity rules. What is more, Article 19 of the 2004 UN Convention on State Immunity, while not yet in force, can be regarded as indicative of present international custom on States’ immunity from execution.
The Court notes that the requirement under Article 1412quinquies that a State waiver from immunity from execution be ‘express’ is in accordance with the aforementioned Convention and international custom. By contrast, the additional requirement that such waiver must also be ‘specific’ goes beyond what international custom posits inasmuch as this requirement of specificity applies not only to diplomatic property (including embassy bank accounts), consular property, property of special missions, or international organizations (which is permissible), but also to other property of a foreign State more generally. The provision is indeed annulled to the extent that it extends the specificity requirement to the latter. By contrast, the Court upholds the requirement in Article 1412 quinquies that any attachment of the property of a foreign State presupposes prior approval by the juge de saisie.
VANDERSCHUREN, J., "Satisfecit constitutionnel partiel pour l’article 1412quinquies du Code judiciaire", JT 2018, afl. 6737, 560-564 and http://jt.larcier.be/ (6 july 2018).