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Suspicions Rise Over Impartiality of Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal Court

Suspicions Rise Over Impartiality of Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal Court

Posted December. 15, 2003 22:55,   


Controversy is rising over whether or not to remit the case of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to a war crimes tribunal. The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) plans to try Saddam from next week at the earliest at a war crimes tribunal established last week. International human rights organizations, however, are raising questions over the legitimacy and fairness of the tribunal.

“Saddam will be the first to appear before this war crimes tribunal,” said Dara Nuredin, a member of the interim Iraqi Governing Council and the chairman of its legal committee. “As a governing council, we decided the judges should be Iraqis since these crimes were all committed against Iraqis by Iraqis,” Dara said.

Considering the disclosed allegations so far, Saddam is likely to face a death sentence.

The followings are the alleged suspicions: apprehension, imprisonment, and torture of defiant races for 25 years, including Shiite Muslims and Kurds; the massacre of 100,000 Kurds in 1988 by using poisonous gases and other methods; and an estimated number of more than 290,000 Iraqis are missing as a result of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Although a death sentence is prohibited under the law of the IGC, Nuredin did not rule out the possibility of a death sentence, saying, “This is something that next year’s new government should decide.”

However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) are raising questions, arguing that the provisions of the tribunal law, made under the influence of the U.S., is flawed and lacks essential elements to ensure legitimate and credible trials.

“The provisions of the war crimes tribunal is lacking to ensure the protection of witnesses and independence of judges,” said the HRW, urging non-Iraqi people to participate in the tribunal. The HRW agues that it is likely to become a court of revenge unless changes are made.

Amnesty International said it opposes sentencing Saddam a death sentence, and he should receive all the appropriate protective measures, including the right to appoint a lawyer and the right to stand in front of a fair court.

Human rights groups and international law experts are claiming that the tribunal court should follow the precedent international tribunal court of Yugoslavia of Rwanda or former Yugoslavia where an independent tribunal court was established outside the country.

Councilors of the IGC reportedly say that they will grant Saddam rights to appoint an attorney and appeal to and in addition, they will, if necessary, allow international judicial experts to participate in the trial. The U.S. seems to prefer the case to be handled in the war crimes tribunal in Iraq because the justice of the Iraqi War may get impaired, if disadvantageous facts are disclosed in an international court where other countries interference is strong. The U.S. opposed the establishment of the International Criminal Court, suggesting a possibility of its political misuse.