Reader Emad Hassan drew my attention to Imad Hajjaj’s latest cartoon, which I found personally annoying. In the cartoon he refers to Saddam’s trial as an act of "humiliation to Arabs." As an Arab, I was not humiliated; quite the contrary I am glad justice is being served.
The only thing that bothers me about the trial is how arrogant Saddam appeared to be, showing absolutely no signs of repentance for the crimes against humanity that he committed during the days of his oppressive regime.
Kais from Beirut Beltway refers to an editorial in the Daily Star in which the author discusses how both Lebanon and Iraq are on the path toward justice.
In both Iraq and Lebanon, the many citizens whose lives and families were affected by murderous regimes are hoping that the regimes’ leaders will be dealt heavy punishments by the courts.
If carried out properly, the trials of Saddam and former Lebanese and Syrian regime figures will mark a turning point in the history of the Arab world. Holding rulers accountable to the rule of law is unheard of in the region, where dictators, royal families and despots have habitually acted with impunity.
Indeed, it is a turning point in the history of the Arab world. It is not an act of humiliation as Hajjaj suggests. But then again Hajjaj might be playing on the emotions of the Jordanian street, where support for the popular Saddam is fierce. So Mr Hajjaj, although I really admire your work, this time you got it wrong.
UPDATE: Amir Taheri has a compelling piece about Saddam’s trial in the Times of London. Here is one excerpt:
Saddam is enjoying what he denied his victims: a public trial with defense lawyers of his choice and the rule of evidence taking into account the principle of reasonable doubt. Here a new Iraq, based on the rule of law, will be trying the old Iraq of cruelty and corruption. The Arabs will watch and decide which they would rather live under. The rest of the world should also watch to decide which side to support in the struggle for Iraq’s future.
To Jack, the mother of all ironies is that when the white man committed genocide throughout history, no one was strong enough to prevent it and to put the white man on trial. Only when his victims were also white did whity get punished (aka Slobodan, Hitler). The last great acts of mass murder that went unpunished were committed by US and UK in vietnam and Iraq, where hurdeds of thousands were either starved or bombed, not to mention the chemical warfare launched against the vietnamese by no other than the USA, the first to bring to us Nukes on Cities, and all of it was done in the name of human rights, democracy, and john wayne.
The constant … this criminal (saddam if he is a criminal) is not as bad as this criminal argument just won’t fly in a court.
And Saddam is the one that is in a court today.
But home come Slobodan Milosovich, who is far worse than Saddam, received the presidential treatment yet the Arab leader was treated in a manner that can best be described as racist and vindictive? Even if Saddam is not a decent human being, Bush killed far more innocents in the invasion of Iraq than Saddam did in all the alleged massacres. Why do we celebrate “justice” against Saddam but remain quite on the murder of Arab innocents? And as we herald Saddam’s trial we totally forget the murderous sanctaions that claimed the lives of over 500,000 Iraqi children who were denied basic medication and clean water. Who should be behind bars? All the alleged crimes committed by Saddam do not add up to a fraction of murders committed under the US/UK imposed sanctions and during and after the invasion or Iraq.
One reason he is not being tried at the Hague is that many of his worst crimes were against Iraqis, including the one in the current trial. The Iranians would like to see him tried for war crimes.
Should he be kept alive for a whole series of trials, or executed promptly?
For the sake of quelling the bitter sentiments which are bound to be voiced after the inevitable verdict, I feel a better sign would be the appointment of a non-Kurdish judge. ‘Fair trial’they rave… we all know what the outcome is going to be, Saddam will not walk and that is a pre determined fact (which I am not condemning)but since we’re all caught up in this diplomacy guise, should’nt we play that game by the ‘rules’ at least? I can’t but admit that this is all slightly amusing to me.
Interesting discussion 🙂
When you guys say “tried at the Hague” what do you mean? If you mean the International Court of Justice, then a case like Saddam’s won’t be possible because the ICJ settles disputes between countries. You cannot sue Saddam or try him at the ICJ because he is not a country, unless a certain country plans on suing Iraq, which they could (Iran could sue Iraq for damages during the Iraq-Iran war).
The other option is the International Criminal Court. That won’t be possible either because the ICC’s jurisdiction does not cover the period when Saddam committed these crimes.
We are left with one option: a special tribunal like the one they setup for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. This requires a UN security council resolution.
The Iraqi tribunal that was setup in December 2003 follows rules of procedure based on those of the UN war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Iraq is not in the same state Rwanda or former Yugoslavia were in, and there is reason the UNSC needed to establish one that’s based in another country.
Let’s not prejudge the tribunal before it starts. Amnesty International praised the judge’s decision to adjourn for 40 days to allow defence lawyers to prepare their case. That’s a good sign.