Auditeur Militaire (Belgium) v G Van Dieren

Date31 janvier 1919
Docket NumberCase No. 310
CourtCourt Martial (Belgium)
Belgium, Council of War (Court-Martial) of Brabant.
Case No. 310
Auditeur Militaire
G. Van Dieren.

Nature and Effects of the Occupation — Maintenance of National Sovereignty — Legislative Measures of National Authorities — Effect in Occupied Territory — Suspension during Occupation.

The Facts.—The Decree-Law of 8 April, 1916, issued by the Belgian Government during the period of occupation, made the giving aid to the enemy, malicious denunciation to the enemy, etc., criminal offences. The accused, being charged under these heads, alleged in defence, inter alia, that he was in occupied territory at the dates of the acts with which he was charged.

Held by the Court-Martial: That the Decree-Law was applicable to the accused. On the basis of Article 43 of the Hague Convention, as interpreted by the Court of Cassation (judgment of 5 July, 1917; Pasicrisie belge, 1917, vol. I, p. 280), the Court held that in law national sovereignty subsisted in the occupied territory during the occupation, even when the occupying Power exercised de facto authority. It was true that a notice by the German Government in Belgium (4 January, 1915) proclaimed that “the Orders issued from this day onwards by the King of the Belgians and the Belgian ministers have not the force of law within the domain of the German Government of Belgium.” But this provision contravened the rights of sovereignty. By a Decree-Law of 8 April, 1917, the King declared: “subject to any express provision to...

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