M.E.Y. v O.R.V. / F.B. v Politiezone nr. 5340 Brussel-West, D.B. et al

Belgian Supreme Court, M.E.Y. v O.R.V.; F.B. v Politiezone nr. 5340 Brussel-West, D.B. et al, Nr. P.16.0244.N, 24 May 2016
ECLI:BE:CASS:2016:ARR.20160524.5

The case concerns an action for annulment brought against a judgment of the Antwerp Court of Appeals finding the applicants guilty of terrorist offences under the Belgian Criminal Code in connection with their involvement in islamist terrorist groups abroad. In particular, the applicants unsuccesfully raise breaches of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, Article 141bis of the Belgian Criminal Code, Article 7 ECHR and the principle of legality. All claims are, however, dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Pursuant to Article 141bis of the Criminal Code, the provisions pertaining to terrorist offences do not apply to the conduct of armed forces during an armed conflict. Such ‘armed conflict’ exists whenever when there is armed violence between States or protracted armed violence between State authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a State. The existence of a non-international armed conflict is determined primarily in light of the intensity of the conflict and the degree of organization of the parties involved. Other criteria cited by international jurisprudence are merely indicative criteria that can be used to interpret the requirements of intensity and organization. The appraisal of these criteria in a given case is a matter for the judge of the merits, and is not subject to review by the Supreme Court (as long as proper statement of reasons is provided).


X {Ex parte}

Bruges First Instance Tribunal, X, 14/1508/B, 23 November 2015

The Tribunal examined a request of a man of Palestinian origin seeking recognition as a stateless person. Since statelessness presupposes an absence of ‘nationality’, and ‘nationality’ in turn necessitates a connection between an individual and a ‘State’, the Tribunal needed to determine whether Palestine qualified as such. Starting from the four cumulative conditions of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, the Tribunal accepts that Palestine fulfills the requirements of a permanent population and a defined (even if fragmented) territory. By contrast, it is less clear whether the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) qualifies as an ‘effective government’, since it only has limited powers and Israel still controls their airways, external borders, territorial waters, national registrations, taxes and functions in the government itself. In any case, according to the Tribunal, fulfillment of the Montevideo criteria is ‘manifestly meaningless’ if the Palestinian State is not internationally recognized. As a significant number of countries, including Belgium itself, has not recognized Palestine as such, the Tribunal cannot under present circumstances establish the existence of a sovereign Palestinian State. It follows that the applicant cannot be seen as having the ‘Palestinian nationality’ and must be regarded as being stateless.  

Rb. Brugge 23 november 2015, T.Vreemd 2016, afl. 2, 223.
AGENTSCHAP INTEGRATIE EN INBURGERING, “Palestijnse nationaliteit wordt niet erkend, staatloosheid dus niet uitgesloten”, T.Vreemd 2016, 509-510.

R.J.V.D.B. v Imerial Tomacco Ltd. and Gallagher Ltd.

Supreme Court, R.J.V.D.B. v Imperial Tobacco Ltd. and Gallagher Ltd, Nr. 14.0414.N, 26 May 2015

In this case, the claimant seeks annulment of a judgment of the Antwerp Court of Appeal, inter alia on the basis of an alleged breach of Article 22(3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR). In particular, the claimant argues that a vehicle of the Ivorian embassy in London with a British diplomatic license plate be immune from search and seizure in the context of a criminal investigation in Belgium.  The Supreme Court recalls that Art. 22(3) VCDR regulates mutual obligations between the sending and receiving States. By contrast, neither Article 22(3) nor article 40 VCDR provide immunity from investigation or seizure of a means of transportation of a diplomatic mission that is not accredited in Belgium.


NML Capital Ltd v Republic of Argentina

Belgian Supreme Court, NML Capital Ltd v Republic of Argentina, Nr. C.13.0537.F, 11 December 2014
ECLI:BE:CASS:2014:ARR.20141211.4 

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.


Republic of Argentina v NMC Capital Ltd

Belgian Supreme Court, Republic of Argentina v. NMC Capital LTD, Nr. C.11.0688.F, 22 November 2012
ECLI:BE:CASS:2012:ARR.20121122.3

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.