Combatant immunity bars the prosecution of combatants for mere participation in hostilities. Thus, they are immune from prosecution for murder and destruction of property committed as part of an armed conflict, unless such acts constitute war crimes.

Also, nationals of the Occupying Power who, before the outbreak of hostilities, have sought refuge in the territory of the occupied State enjoy, in principle, immunity from prosecution. This immunity does not cover offences committed after the outbreak of hostilities and extraditable offences under common law committed before the outbreak of hostilities.

International immunities under general international law may also bar the domestic prosecution of State officials or representatives of international organizations. However, there is a growing trend towards recognizing an exception to such immunity in case of international crimes, including war crimes.

See CombatantsIndividual criminal responsibility;




FRULLI Micaela, “The Question of Charles Taylor’s Immunity: Still in Search of a Balanced Application of Personal Immunities?”, in Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 2, 2004, pp. 1118-1129.   SASSÒLI Marco, “L’arrêt Yerodia: quelques remarques sur une affaire au point de collision entre les deux couches du droit international”, in RGDIP, No. 4, October-December 2002, pp. 789-818.