Joe Hendren

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Saddam sentenced to hang

I am disappointed, but not surprised to hear Saddam Hussien has received a death sentence for "crimes against humanity".

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's director of the Middle East and North Africa, called the trial seriously flawed.

"This trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq, and in ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's rule. In practice, it has been a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the tribunal, as currently established, to administer justice fairly, in conformity with international standards."

It is for these sorts of reasons I wish Saddam had been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) instead, along with a few western significant others also to blame for numerous Iraqi deaths. If gassing the Kurds is such a terrible crime (which it is), why not also charge the people who gave Saddam the gas? Unfortunately the citizenship of these alleged criminals would give them refuge in the United States, a country which refuses to recognise the ICC.

It is not that I believe Saddam should not be held to account for human rights violations, but I strongly believe a death sentence in these circumstances will be nothing but counterproductive. Saddam does not deserve to become a matryr - yet he is likely to gain this status when he is gifted a rope.

Saddam could well become a greater challenge to the political stability of Iraq in death than he ever could be in life, especially if the alternative is spending the rest of his life in jail.

Given only the losing side are to be charged for their crimes, this looks very like much like victors justice. In order for a new Government to feel safe, the old leader must die. I am reminded of the decision of the Russian Bolsheviks to shoot the last Czar and his family in July 1918. In giving this order Lenin's administration demonstrated its immediate weakness, not its strength. Perhaps a similar assessment will be made of the scarcely effective Iraqi Government and its support for the death of Saddam. Now the Bolsheviks were able to eventually consolidate their power, but they were in the position of fighting off the invading armies, not depending on said armies for their survival....

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