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Agapito, Joselito

DOCTRINE: There is no rule of general customary international law, which prohibits the
enactment of retroactive penal legislation. Furthermore, the argument that to punish an
individual for conduct which was not yet criminal at the time of its commission would be
unethical loses its force in face of the odious crimes committed by the Appellant.
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF ISRAEL v. EICHMANN
Criminal Appeal 336/61, MAY 29, 1962
FACTS:
The crimes perpetrated by the Nazis during Hitlers reign against Jewish citizens
were some of the worst recorded in history. The Appellant, Adolf Eichmann, occupied
the position of Head of Section for Jewish Affairs charged with all matters related to the
implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish. He was captured by Israeli Security
Forces in Argentina and handed over to the District Court of Jerusalem to stand trial for
war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people. He was
convicted of all 15 counts and sentenced to death by the District Court of Jerusalem. He
appealed on both legal and factual grounds against his conviction and sentence based
on the contention that rely on the Act of State doctrine to excuse his criminal
responsibility.
ISSUE: Can the Appellant rely on the Act of State doctrine to excuse his criminal
responsibility?
RULING:
The Appellant contends that his crimes were Acts of the State, the responsibility
for which rests with the State alone and another State has no right to punish the person
who committed the act, save with the consent of the state whose mission he carried out.
This ground of appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court as there is no basis for
applying the doctrine to acts prohibited by international law, particularly in cases of such
heinous international crimes.
There is no rule of general customary international law that the principle of
territorial sovereignty prohibits the enactment of a criminal law applicable to extraterritorial crimes committed by a foreign national. These findings are reinforced by
positive international law: the crimes for which the Appellant was convicted were
international crimes under international law entailing individual criminal responsibility at
the time that they were committed and their universal character is such that each State
is vested with the power to try and punish anyone who assisted in their commission.

There is no rule of general customary international law, which prohibits the


enactment of retroactive penal legislation. Furthermore, the argument that to punish an
individual for conduct which was not yet criminal at the time of its commission would be
unethical loses its force in face of the odious crimes committed by the Appellant.