Air Strikes Alone Aren't Enough; an International Tribunal Would Stop Saddam Hussein Cheating Justice

Article excerpt

When the full picture emerges of the effect of Saddam Hussein's invasion of northern Iraq, there is no doubt that, as it did after Kuwait, it will show a trail of mass killings, crushed skulls and broken lives.

Military action must be accompanied by other concrete steps to prevent Saddam attacking the vulnerable people in the north and south of Iraq again. Such steps would include the immediate setting up of an international tribunal to try Saddam and his closest associates for genocide and crimes against humanity.

For, like Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein continues to escape prosecution for his crimes against humanity. After Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council called on states to collect evidence of Iraqi war crimes, but the UN never established a tribunal to consider the ample evidence of atrocities.

But the crimes of the Iraqi dictator are well documented. Like Pol Pot's Organisation on High and Hitler's SS, Saddam Hussein's security police kept meticulous records, some of which fell into the hands ofthe Kurds duringthe 1991 uprising and have been thoroughly sifted by human rights organisations.

As President of Iraq and commander of its armed forces, Saddam Hussein has contravened a wide range of international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter and the 1951 Genocide Convention. His crimes against humanity include the deportation and extermination of Iraqi citizens, scientific experiments on human beings and the elimination of whole village populations in "reprisals".

Saddam committed the crimes of genocide in the 1987-88 "Anfal" operation against the Kurds, when thousands had to flee to Turkey; in the campaign against the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq; and against the Faili Kurds of eastern Iraq in the build-up to the Iran-Iraq war.

His crimes against peace include the invasions of Iran, Kuwait and--with his attack on the town of Khafji during the Gulf war--Saudi Arabia. His repeated war crimes include shelling civilian hospitals, the torture and execution of prisoners of war, and the use of prohibited chemical weapons.

Yet despite the vast body of evidence, Saddam has not been charged. More than 50 years after the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal tried the Nazi leaders, progress towards establishing a permanent international criminal court has been painfully slow.

After the setting up of ad hoc tribunals in 1993 and 1994 to deal with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the UN's international law commission produced a draft statute for a permanent judicial body. …