28 August, 2010

Chilcot Inquiry criticised over civilian casualties

It is almost certainly true to say that nobody actually knows how many Iraqi civilian deaths were caused as a result of the military action in Iraq.  The Chilcot Inquiry has been accused of paying derisory attention to this issue - see The Guardian 27th August 2010.   See also the Guardian's page on Iraq. There appears to be nothing in the Inquiry's terms of reference which would prevent them from examining this matter though the inquiry is concerned primarily with the period Summer 2001 to the end of July 2009 - see here.

The Chilcot Inquiry has now finished hearing evidence.  140 witnesses have been heard and this has concentrated mainly on the decision-making in London and Washington.  The Inquiry team are to visit Iraq so it is possible that their eventual report may contain something about the Iraqi perspective.

The U.S. has now scaled down its troop numbers in Iraq to about 50,000 who, according to BBC Middle East News 19th August 2010, are there to "advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests".  The same report notes that the US has a trillion dollar investment in Iraq to protect.

Some reports of very recent events in Iraq may be read at Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count (icasualties.org) and at Iraq Today.  It is clear that Iraq is far from being a settled place and it is reported that there have been Al Qaeda attacks across 13 cities and towns - see New Zealand Herald 27th August 2010.  This casts considerable doubt about Iraqi government claims that security has improved.

See also Operation Iraqi Freedom

14 August, 2010

War criminals serving their sentences in Britain

It is possible for certain convicted war criminals to serve their sentences in the U.K. and, sometimes, the prisoner will have had no particular prior connection with the U.K.  The Manchester Evening News 13th August 2010 reported the outcome of a case concerning Radislav Krstić see "Serbian War Criminal wins legal battle in Manchester Court".  The case in Manchester was a challenge to Krstić's status as a Category A prisoner and a decision to continue that status was quashed.

In 2004, Krstić was convicted (on appeal) by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of aiding and abetting genocide and was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment which he is currently serving in England.  He held high rank in the Serbian military and played a leading role in Krivaja 95. The ICTY website carries details of the case against Krstić and demonstrates the considerable care which the Tribunal took to ensure due process - see here.

The ICTY was set up in 1993 and is the first war crimes tribunal to have been created by the United Nations and the first international war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg and Tokyo.  It was established under the United Nations Charter Article VII.  Most of the cases before the ICTY have concerned crimes alleged against Serbs and Bosnian Serbs but the tribunal has also dealt with cases against Croats, Bosnian Muslimes and Kosovo Albanians for crimes against Serbs and others.  The United Nations has recently extended the life of the tribunal to the end of 2012.  Some 37 cases remain on going including that of Radovan Karadžić.

International criminal justice would not be achievable without countries being willing to hold those convicted in prison. The agreement with the U.K. may be seen here.  Similar agreements exist with a number of other countries.  Over the coming years there will be on-going issues about the status of such prisoners, the security risks involved and eventually questions about parole/early release.  Krstić was attacked in Wakefield Prison earlier this year - see Telegraph 8th May.

On the subject of International Criminal Tribunals - there is a challenging book "Fact finding without facts" which considers just how various international tribunals have dealt with this crucial aspect of trials - see Opinio Juris.

See Garden Court Chambers for a report on the Krstić case in Manchester.
Case report - Krstić v Secretary of State for Justice [2010] EWHC 2125 (Admin)

12 August, 2010

Special Court for Sierra Leone: Prosecution of Charles Taylor

The so-called "super model" Naomi Campbell gave evidence at the trial in the Special Court for Sierra Leone of Charles Taylor - see The Guardian 5th August 2010.  The court was set up following UN Security Council Resolution 1315 (2000).  According to the court's statute , it has power "to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30th November 1996 ..."

See Prosecutor v Charles Taylor where it is explained why the case against Taylor is being heard at The Hague.

Proceedings may be followed via the court's website.
Further material on international humanitarian law.

Addendum 15th August: Naomi Campbell given protection - The Guardian