Wednesday, 14 March 2012

An Unlawful Travesty

No one denies that Thomas Lubanga is a very bad man. The point is that ad hoc tribunals to try specific individuals are inherently illegal. Amnesty International rightly made that point, and did so very powerfully, in its 2003 report into the trial of the Grenada 17.

Yet in 2007 that same organisation welcomed the trial of Charles Taylor before just such a tribunal, and called for its proceedings to be broadcast in Liberia for “educative” effect. Be he innocent or be he guilty, Taylor is being tried, if it can be so described, by an unlawful body: a specially constituted branch of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, itself a creature, not of international treaty-making and ratification, but of executive fiat on the part of the United Nations. Closing arguments ended on 11th March last year. The verdict is due on 26th of next month, more than a year later. We shall see if it arrives even then.

Laurent Gbagbo is also now subject to such an unlawful travesty of a trial. And so has Thomas Lubanga been. Who next?

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