The granting of diplomatic asylum in the Colombian Embassy at Lima, on 3 January 1949, to a Peruvian national, Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, a political leader accused of having instigated a military rebellion, was the subject of a dispute between Peru and Colombia which the Parties agreed to submit to the Court. The Pan-American Havana Convention on Asylum (1928) laid down that, subject to certain conditions, asylum could be granted in a foreign embassy to a political refugee who was a national of the territorial State. The question in dispute was whether Colombia, as the State granting the asylum, was entitled unilaterally to “qualify” the offence committed by the refugee in a manner binding on the territorial State — that is, to decide whether it was a political offence or a common crime. Furthermore, the Court was asked to decide whether the territorial State was bound to afford the necessary guarantees to enable the refugee to leave the country in safety. In its Judgment of 20 November 1950, the Court answered both these questions in the negative, but at the same time it specified that Peru had not proved that Mr. Haya de la Torre was a common criminal. Lastly, it found in favour of a counter-claim submitted by Peru that Mr. Haya de la Torre had been granted asylum in violation of the Havana Convention.
Categories: International Law