Sunday 26th of June 2022

move over saddam .....

‘On November 14 a group of lawyers and other experts will come before the German federal prosecutor and ask him to open a criminal investigation targeting Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other key Bush Administration figures for war crimes. The recent passage of the Military Commissions Act provides a central argument for the legal action, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction: It demonstrates the intent of the Bush Administration to immunize itself legally from prosecution in the United States, even for the most serious crimes.

The Rumsfeld action was announced at a conference in New York City in late October titled "Is Universal Jurisdiction an Effective Tool?" The doctrine allows domestic courts to prosecute international crimes regardless of where the crime was committed, the nationality of the perpetrator or the nationality of the victim. It is reserved for only the most heinous offenses: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture. A number of countries around the world have enacted universal jurisdiction statutes; even the United States allows it for certain terrorist offenses and torture.

Many of the participants in the New York conference were human rights lawyers who have been expanding the use of universal jurisdiction since it was employed against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. In a recent case brought in Spain, for example, Argentine Adolfo Scilingo was tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity he committed in Argentina and sentenced to serve a 640-year prison term [see Geoff Pingree and Lisa Abend, "Spanish Justice," October 9]. The decision was made to try to prosecute Rumsfeld in Germany because its laws facilitate the use of universal jurisdiction.’

War Criminals, Beware

Universal Jurisdiction is not a new thing

The concept of universal jurisdiction over particular criminal offences has been around for centuries. The original offence subject to universal jurisdiction was piracy - the kind involving ships and ugly guys with parrots on their shoulders, not copyright violations. That part of the story is of no controversy.

The bigger problem is that international law does not allow for a serving head of state or serving minister of state to be prosecuted for a crime outside their own country, so unless Germany is prepared to wait until the 20th of January 2009 there is a fairly big legal obstacle in place.

history's judgement .....

Accepting that you're right Troy, Saddam was convicted & sentenced for crimes allegedly commited nearly a quarter of a century ago & Pinochet likewise was pursued for old crimes ... but pursued nevertheless.

Whilst Bush, Howard, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc may be around for a couple of years yet, their turn may well come.

It seems to me that, next to the delights of wielding excessive power when in office, politicians most crave significant standing in history books. Whilst they may enjoy the former, to deprive them of the latter would be a cruel punishment indeed.