The Department of State Requests that the Department of Justice Convey to the
U.S. District Court that the Former President Uribe Enjoys
Testimonial Immunity from the Court's Subpoena Power
The Legal Adviser
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
March 31, 2011
The Honorable Tony West, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20530
Re: Claudia Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., et al.,
Civil Action No. 1:10mc00764 (JDB) (D.D.C.)
Dear Assistant Attorney General West:
I write to request that the Department of Justice convey to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the above-referenced case the determination of the Department of State that Alvaro Uribe, the former President of Colombia, enjoys the testimonial immunity from the Court's subpoena power described below.
President Uribe is the former head of the Government of Colombia. The current Government of Colombia has formally asked the Department of State to take the steps necessary to have this subpoena quashed on the basis of former President Uribe's lirnmunity from U.S. jurisdiction as a former foreign head of state. A copy of the letter dated November 12, 2010 from the Ambassador from Colombia requesting that action is enclosed.
Taking into account the relevant principies of customary international law, and considering the overall impact of this matter on the foreign policy of the United States, the Department of State has determined that President Uribe enjoys residual immunity from this Court's jurisdiction insofar as Plaintiffs seek information (i) relating to acts taken in his official capacity as a government official; or (ii) obtained in his official capacity as a government official.
Moreover, the Department of State believes that, in light of President Uribe's immunity and for reasons of comity, the Court should initially stay President Uribe's deposition in this case and direct plaintiffs first to explore other reasonably available means of gathering the evidence they seek. The foreign policy interest of the United States favors avoiding unnecessary irritants in our relations with Colombia. Plaintiffs' counsel has confirmed that plaintiffs have not yet attempted to seek evidence from the Colombian government through the traditional means of letters rogatory, or through other avenues that may be available under Colombian law. In our view, such avenues may well provide a better way for plaintiffs to obtain the evidence they seek, especially in light of President Uribe's testimonial immunity as indicated above.
Finally, it should be noted that many former heads of state, including former U.S. Presidents, travel widely and often serve as unofficial spokesmen for their states. Reciprocal courtesies would prevent U.S. Presidents from being subjected to subpoenas by prívate defendants abroad when the information sought could be reasonably obtained by other means.
Accordingly, the Department of State requests that the Department of Justice submit to the Court an appropriate filing setting forth this immunity determination.
Harold Hongju Koh
The Legal Adviser
DDHH en Colombia
|This document has been published on 21Apr11 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|