The Taliban leader reported to the police on a visit to Norway seems to lack immunity.
Politically sweaty in Oslo, but the situation will probably be resolved in the same way as when a Russian military was accused of war crimes in Sweden.
It has probably not escaped many that representatives of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has flown to Oslo for his first visit to the western world after taking power.
The delegation includes Anas Haqqani, a member of the Islamist Haqqani network that was behind the terrorist attack on the Hotel Serena in Kabul in 2008, in which Norwegian journalist Carsten Thomassen was killed.
The network has a lot of other misery in its luggage and is alleged to have been behind the most deadly attacks on the civilian population in Afghanistan in the 2000s.
Anas Haqqani has been reported to the police by the Norwegian-Afghan media expert Zahir Athari, a report that seems to have triggered some political stress in Norway.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry says that no one in the delegation has been granted diplomatic immunity and that it is up to the police to decide if there are other immunity rules that may be applicable.
Law in this context is in the narrow terrain of international law where international conventions and customary law brood.
Diplomatic relations are governed by the 1961 Vienna Convention, a treaty that almost 200 states have pledged to abide by.
However, the Convention’s rules on immunity primarily concern diplomats on missions in foreign countries and thus do not apply to the present case.
In addition, there is a customary law of at least one hundred years which stipulates that heads of state, heads of government and foreign ministers have immunity.
However, Anas Haqqani is the Minister of the Interior and in other words is not covered by this state practice.
The tangle is reminiscent of a now forgotten one history that affected Sweden in 2006, when the Swedish and Russian military held a joint exercise for a week in Västerbotten.
This was a time when such collaborations were still possible and Minister of Defense Leni Björklund used big words and talked about an exercise imbued with respect for fundamental human rights.
Unfortunately, a participating Russian officer was reported to the Public Prosecutor by the Helsinki Committee on Human Rights.
Of course, arresting the military, which was allegedly involved in the executions of seven people in Chechnya, with all that it had meant for relations between Stockholm and Moscow, was out of the question.
RAW balled the hot potato to a chief prosecutor at the International Prosecutor’s Office who, after almost panicking, flipped through the law book and treaty, found no less than two solutions.
On the one hand, the government in Sweden must give permission to bring charges in such cases. And when no advance notice had been received, the case was quickly closed.
On the one hand, the officer was considered to be immune from criminal law because he was invited by the Swedish government.
Ove Bring, professor of international law and leading Swedish authority in the field, was not impressed, to put it mildly:
– Since the prosecutor has decided not to do anything about this case, it means that the internationally agreed principle of universal jurisdiction for war crimes does not work when people come to Sweden.
– This means that Sweden does not live up to its obligations under international law.
But legal premiums of this kind not many people cared and the potentially very difficult situation was quickly forgotten.
Rosenbad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could breathe a sigh of relief.
It would not be a bang if it ended in a similar way in Norway. Oslo’s political ambition is to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and an interior minister locked in a cell is hardly an ideal situation for the negotiator who wants the Taliban to listen.
Practically enough, there is a provision in Norwegian law that prosecutors can invoke “public interest” in order not to initiate an investigation.
An excellent rubber paragraph that provides reassuring space for creative interpretations.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who was at the hotel in Kabul when the Norwegian journalist was murdered, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.