The Nuremberg Trials were held in the Palace of Justice in Bavaria in 1945-46. These trials covered 24 of the major war criminals behind the Nazi regime which committed such atrocities in the preceding 15 years. They were a public illustration of the allies commitment to due process. The Nuremberg trials also set a precedence for international criminal law. They influenced The Genocide Convention (1948), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), The Nuremberg Principles (1950) and The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity (1968). The model set down at Nuremberg set a basic standard. What has happened recently should deeply worry us all.
I have blogged before about the de facto extra-judicial execution of Bin Laden. This cannot be justified. Yesterday we were sold a story that said Gaddafi was killed in cross fire while they trying to get him to hospital. Do we honestly believe this? These two events illustrate the international community’s willingness to stand by as due process is ignored.
Even by official accounts, Gaddafi was originally wounded by a NATO air strike that hit his escaping convoy. I thought NATO were there to protect civilians not to target authoritarian leader’s convoys? The leadership in Libya has started their ‘new era’ by being accused of atrocities by Amnesty International. Even if you believe them when they say they were trying to ‘help’ Gadaffi to hospital, you cannot deny the documented atrocities that Amnesty International have recorded against Gaddafi’s opponents.
Cameron, and the newly appointed Hammond have described Gadaffi’s death as a victory for democracy. I want them to answer this basic question, how does the murder of a former leader, and a possible cover up of events equate to a victory for democracy? It is a clearly a defeat for Gadaffi’s totalitarianism, but to claim a victory for democracy? This is just the latest step down the path of our leadership glorifying death (even through extra-judicial execution) in international politics.
The BBC has covered the events by overviewing Gadaffi’s years by describing how he tortured and killed his opponents – failing to point to the obvious irony that it is now his opponents who are torturing and killing his supporters. This ‘new era’ in Libyan politics is be marked by the bleakest of starts.
Assuming that the fighting is over, as the NTC claim, then now should be the time to rebuild. It seems that they have made a basic error in the murder of Gaddafi. Instead of showing to the world the strength of their judiciary, or should the trial have occurred in the Hague, their new found role in the international community, they have instead shown themselves to be in violation of basic international standards.
The graphic nature of Gadaffi’s death will bolster his supporters. I would be surprised if this was the end of the fighting. Some will take it as proof that he fought on until the very end just as he had promised.
The NTC must now ensure that all those suspected of human rights abuses and war crimes, including Gaddafi’s inner circle and family members, are treated humanely and, if captured, given fair trials. The world will be watching.
If the allies could give Nazi war criminals due process there is no reason the NTC cannot have given Gaddafi the same basic right.