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Four or five years ago (I think) the following was passed by the EU:
Article 12, Chapter 5 of the protocol on the privileges and immunities of the EU provides a blanket lifetime immunity to all officials and servants of the Institutions:
"In the territory of each member state and whatever their nationality, officials and servants of the Communities shall... be immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity, including their word (spoken or written,) They shall continue to enjoy this immunity after they have ceased to hold office."
In another article (Article 1, Chapter 1) it says "premises and buildings of the Communities shall be exempt from search, requisition, confiscation or expropriation and their archives shall be inviolable..."
Which as far as I can see means that any EU official can comit any crime they wish, claim it was done in an official capacity and be immune from prosecution life long. I wanted to ask two questions. Firstly is my interpretation right? Because that worried me very much. And secondly if my interpretation is even half way right WHY did the EU feel the need to have such protection from the consequences of their actions?
PS If this is not allowed Forum Editor please delete it.
Sorry I can't. I'm quoting verbatim from a magazine article.
Thanks Chris. :-)
What do people think about this?
It's not the way I read it.
The way I read it is the officials (or whoever listed including Judges) are immune from prosecution for acts which are sanctioned or required as a result of their position. Not general personal acts of crime.
In effect it's a form of indemnity for carrying out your duties as an official. An example might be that an official is "instructed" by the EU to do something which perhaps has been passed by the European Parliament but later (eg) found to not comply with say International law. The official will say the act was a direct instruction of the EU and was "obeying orders". Particularly so since the order will have been vetted for legal compliance.
The immunity is continued after employment for obvious reasons.
I don't think that this is much different from professional indemnity insurance, with which I am covered by my employer. If I inadvertently gave bad advice then I and my employer would be covered to about £5M. However if I deliberately gave false information I could be prosecuted.
if he or she commits a criminal offence whilst in office. What the article means is that no official may be individually proceeded against in a court of law because of something that he/she does in the course of the execution of his/her duties as a servant of the community, provided that in doing so the individual doesn't break the law - either of the member state in which he/she works, or of the community as a whole. No EU servant can be ordered to break the law in order to do a job, but there may be circumstances in which the law isn't 100% clear, and a third party might be tempted to start proceedings against an official. The article is there to deal with these contingencies.
There's a difference, and it is indeed similar to the professional indemnity insurances mentioned by VoG™
Didnt hold water at nuremberg. Nor at the trial of saddams henchmen. Or at the abu ghraib prison. That ruling is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. With an eastward expanding EU its only a matter of time before some eastern european (ex-communist?) apparatchik tries that on. Should we attempt to give legitamacy to it then? I think not.
I used the words "obeying orders" and as now I put it in inverted commas to signify the idea of similar but not the same.
Perhaps carrying out a duty, would have been better, such duty arising from the discharge of the office. In my example and in the FE's explanation, the indemnity is designed to cover the areas of uncertainty of which there are many.
The provision is not intended to cover acts of neglect or commission where an official is acting beyond member state law or EU law.
To that extent it has no parallels whatsoever with the Nuremberg examples. The Nuremberg cases were always clear.
Fair enough, and I am happy enough with your clarification.
The words (only) obeying orders do however have specific connotations which is why I felt it important enough to pick up on the usage.
But I still stand by my opinion that someone will abuse this law. Probably from eastern europe, but could be a lot closer to home. I'm mindfull of some individuals that this country has sent to europe, that I wouldnt even buy a used car off, let alone trust their honesty and integrity not to use this as a stay out of jail free passport.
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