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France Agrees To UN Court Hearing Its Dispute With Djibouti Over Immunity Of Witnesses

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The Hague, August 14, 2006 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will hear a case between France and Djibouti over whether high-level figures in Djibouti, including its Head of State, can be summoned as witnesses as part of a French judicial investigation.

In a statement issued this week from its headquarters in The Hague, the ICJ said France has formally consented to the Court's jurisdiction in this case following an application filed by Djibouti in January.

The dispute relates to an investigation by French judicial authorities into the circumstances surrounding the death of Bernard Borrel, a French judge, in Djibouti in 1995.

Djibouti's application states that France has violated its international obligations under two bilateral treaties – the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (signed in 1977) and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (1986) – by not handing over information relating to its judicial investigation into Mr. Borrel's death.

The ICJ statement noted that the Horn of Africa country said France has also breached its obligations by seeking to call as witnesses to the inquiry “certain internationally protected nationals of Djibouti, including the Head of State.”

Source: UN News Centre

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