State Immunity and the Right of Access to Court. The Natoniewski Case before the Polish Courts
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On 29 October 2007, Winicjusz Natoniewski filed the lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany in the Circuit Court in Gdansk (Poland), demanding a payment of PLN 1,000,000 as a redress for injuries he suffered as a result of activities of the German military forces during World War II. The Circuit Court, Appellate Court and the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit stating that the State immunity of the Federal Republic of Germany excluded the jurisdiction of Polish courts in this case and thereby deprived Natoniewski of the right to dignity guaranteed by Polish, European, and international law. The actions taken by German forces in the Natoniewski case constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity. In the case of such serious crimes, a State cannot invoke its immunity. The infringement of fundamental human rights entails the withdrawal of all benefits and privileges provided by international law, and thus is an implied waiver of the State immunity. This consequence results from the principle that no one can benefit from his/her unlawful conduct. Granting immunity to a State in case of international crimes committed by the State is contrary to the foundations of international law and it destroys the values which are the most important for the international community.
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