Saturday, April 23, 2005

Countdown to International Justice (Day 21)...

I would like to take this moment to congratulate the International Criminal Court in their decisive action to impose justice upon the perpetrators of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. No! I won't apologize for using the word genocide even though the United Nations Human Rights Commission has failed to label the atrocities committed in Darfur as such on the basis that the term genocide carries a legal obligation to act. However, the official position of the United States is that genocide is indeed exactly what is taking place in Darfur. So, I'll trust my own government on this one, for the time being.

Enough digression! That is all ancillary debate over semantics now that the ICC has added Darfur to its extensive workload of investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity around the globe. I am sure the starving, homeless victims of these heinous crimes will take great comfort in knowing the ICC will be sparing no expense to defend those behind these abominable acts. The Committee on Budget and Finance for the ICC proposed the following monthly allotments for each defendant in their fourth budget (pdf):

...monthly fees per defendant of €19,864 (US $25,958) for the initial phase, €36,509 (US $47,710) for the trial phase and €26,451 (US $34,566) for the appeals phase, as well as a fee of €55,315 (US $ 72,286) for 90 days of investigation...

You and I may be quite ready to expend great amounts of cash and capital on justice, but to the refugees and displaced peoples of Darfur; I can't imagine this international justice being anything more than an incomprehensible luxury. That is obviously because our priorities are different. I live in a country where unemployment over six percent is an "economic disaster", where my daughter can get a decent education for little out-of-pocket expense, and where my dogs eat better than most humans. Yes, the dogs sleep on a heated queen-sized bed at night for crying out loud! Most of us in the West aren't even satisfied with justice. We also want fairness these days; a truly fantastical indulgence of privileged civilization.

The International Criminal Court has not prosecuted even a single war criminal in its four years of service to the world. That raises the questions of exactly who this court serves and how could it could possibly be a deterrent to future war criminals?

"The Court is strong enough to bring war criminals to justice and provide a deterrent against future atrocities." - Senator Patrick Leahy (via PGA (pdf))

I don't believe that, and I can't believe someone as smart as Senator Leahy believe's that either. A better deterrent would be for tyrants and war criminals to watch their fellow tyrants and war criminals tried by their own people, like will happen in Iraq. Imagine the second-thoughts that would occur if cruel despots realized it wouldn't be a villa on the Riviera for them, but instead a local trial, by their own people where they would have to face their victims and answer for their crimes. I think most would consider that justice.

The trial of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic by the U.N. tribunal entered its third year in February 2005, and the prosecution have just completed their arguments in that same month. Milosevic, who is acting in his own defense, now gets to present his arguments in the case. Assuming his defense fails and he is convicted another year or more from now, then the appeals process will begin. If we start applying some of those dollar amounts recommended by the Committee on Budget and Finance for the trial phase, we quickly start approaching $2 million applied to a single man. That may be money well spent for the people of the former Yugoslavia whose lives, though tattered and uncertain, are infinitely better off than the lives of those living in Darfur.

So, I ask you, is it justice to spend well over $2 million defending a single person in a conflict where 1.8 million have been burned out of their homes, 50,000 have already been murdered, and up to 250,000 others have died of starvation?

Of course, the question is purely rhetorical until Sudan actually hands over a war criminal to the International Criminal Court. It will be interesting to see how the ICC will affect such an assumption of custody. The members of the Sudanese government didn't seem overly impressed with the United Nations Resolution 1593 referring war criminals from the Darfur region to the Hague, but then again, neither was I.


Blogger Terrie said...

Hi, Carl! I tracked you down from your wickedly saucy comments about my blog posts. And am I glad I did.

Damn, you're a good writer, and smart, and funny! I thought I was an infomaniac, but you know stuff I've never heard of.

Who are you really and why aren't you charging me by the syllable?

11:45 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Great job, man. Keep it real!

12:39 PM  

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