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Archives for The Iraq Tribunal


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Saddam Defiant As He Awaits Trial (December 20, 2004)
In an interview with NBC, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi lawyer comments on the first meeting between the former president and his legal representation. During the meeting, Hussein applauded the Iraqi resistance and questioned the legality of the January elections. The lawyer revealed the difficulty in accessing his client and the danger of the position but emphasized, "it's my duty to defend President Saddam Hussein."

Can This Man Get a Fair Trial? (December 19, 2004)
This Washington Post commentary rests the fairness of the Iraqi tribunal proceedings upon three conditions: fair rules, impartial judges and a defense team whose quality matches up to that of prosecutors. Iraqis overcame US pressure in writing the tribunal statute, and judges have risked their lives to "show the face of Iraqi justice." The author believes the tribunal will not concede to outside pressure and the defense will prove credible, and notes that just because "acquittal is highly unlikely [for Saddam Hussein] doesn't mean a trial is unfair."

Tribunal's Flaws Raise Fair Trial Concerns (December 17, 2005)
Human Rights Watch draws attention to the "serious human rights shortcomings" of the Iraqi Special Tribunal. The court's statute fails to protect defendants' basic rights such as the use of confessions obtained through torture, and it lacks the fundamental requirement that prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Human Rights Watch insists Iraq must remedy these flaws to ensure the trials do not become "a wasted opportunity" for justice.

Iraq's ‘Chemical Ali' To Be Tried First (December 15, 2004)
Saddam Hussein's right-hand man, "Chemical Ali," may be the first war crimes suspect to face trial in Iraq, though Iraqi officials dispute whether they consider the process a "trial" or an "investigative hearing" since Ali has not yet seen a lawyer. The news of the proceedings surprises many, since Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi made the statement right before his January 2005 election candidacy announcement and just days after officials said the trial of Hussein and his deputies was a long way off. (Reuters)

Money No Object for Dictator in the Mother of All Trials (December 12, 2004)
The Scotsman says Saddam Hussein will pay for his extensive legal costs, including a team of 20 international lawyers, through millions of dollars stolen from the Oil-for-Food Programme and the Iraqi Central Bank. The US government has itself spent $75 million for "overseeing tribunal preparations." Complaints abound, as Saddam's lawyers say they have no access to their client and prosecutors worry that Saddam will employ Milosevic-like tactics in the trial.

Justice Abandoned (November 25, 2004)
The International Herald Tribune asserts that lack of support from the UN, US allies and NGOs for the Iraqi tribunal demonstrates a "hypocricy…that pretends to stand on principle." The author believes that Secretary General Kofi Annan's refusal to let Hague prosecutors assist Iraqi judges, the lack of substantial advice from NGOs, and the failure of European countries to help collect forensic evidence from mass graves demonstrates that the democratic world shamefully denies justice in the war-torn country.

US Needs to Rethink Hussein Trial: Robertson (November 17, 2004)
In an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Geoffrey Robertson, who is helping to train judges in the Iraqi war crimes tribunal, describes the current civil situation in the war-torn country as "moral anarchy." He advocates holding the trials at "the scene of the crime" but does not believe Iraq can protect its own judges or try war criminals without international assistance.

Iraqis Not Ready for Trials; UN to Withhold Training (October 22, 2004)
Secretary General Kofi Annan barred top representatives of the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague from participating in a training session for Iraqi tribunal judges. Annan has raised concerns about the Iraqis' ability to uphold international standards of justice. The United Nations and several European countries have also hesitated to help the tribunal because Iraqi national laws permit the death penalty. (New York Times)

US Doubts October Trial for Saddam (September 25, 2004)
A US official claims that Saddam Hussein's tribunal will not start in October, as Iraq Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said recently. Iraqi court officials also say they need at least a year to go through all the documents for the 25-year period of Hussein's rule. Critics question the impartiality of the US-appointed tribunal and argue that Allawi is putting pressure on the tribunal in order to create show trials before the Iraq elections. (Al Jazeera)

Iraqis Battle Over Control of Panel to Try Hussein (September 24, 2004)
Tensions between Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Iraq tribunal chief administrator Salem Chalabi have created a "political tug of war" over the trial of Saddam Hussein and his associates. Chalabi and senior US officials in Iraq suspect Allawi has asserted influence over the tribunal, bypassing governmental checks and balances, to benefit himself and his political party. (New York Times)

Iran Ignored at Saddam's Trial? (July 5, 2004)
Iranian officials criticize the Iraqi court trying Saddam Hussein for failing to include Iraq's 1980 attack on Iran in its initial charges. Some officials are calling for more transparency within the proceedings or a referral of the case to the International Criminal Court to obtain multilateral recognition of the crimes committed. (United Press International)

The West May Go on Trial with Saddam (June 18, 2004)
Victims of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath regime argue that European and US companies who supplied the former Iraqi president with landmines and fighter jets should be named in court, allowing the victims to sue for damages. (Inter Press Service)

US Lays Out Conditions of Saddam Transfer (June 16, 2004)
The Bush administration will continue to physically hold Saddam Hussein until Washington is satisfied with a secure Iraqi-run facility, but is prepared to transfer "legal custody" of Saddam to Iraq's Interim Government. By transferring "legal custody" to the Iraqis by June 30, the US may avoid court challenges by human rights groups. (Reuters)

Red Cross Ultimatum to US on Saddam (June 14, 2004)
The International Committee of the Red Cross argues that because the US defined Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war, it must formally charge him or release him before the transfer of power on June 30, 2004. Family members of thousands of other Iraqi detainees claim that the US holds them indefinitely without evidence of wrongdoing. (Guardian)

Saddam Trial on Hold Until Iraq Stabilizes (June 8, 2004)
Director of the Iraq Tribunal Salem Chalabi admits that the trial of Saddam Hussein can not start before coalition forces stabilize Iraq's security situation. However, Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry has stated that US forces will transfer prisoners to the court as soon as June 30th 2004, the transfer of power to Iraq's Interim Government. (Scotsman)

'Human Rights Shortcomings' in Hussein Tribunal - Concern Grows that Trial Will Be Seen as a Kangaroo Court (April 22, 2004)
Analysts argue that the Iraq tribunal may prove unpopular with many Iraqis because it is almost completely controlled by the National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew, newly appointed director of the tribunal, Salem Chalabi. Holding key decision-making positions in the tribunal, the question remains if they will allow attorney's to try to prove US government links with Hussein's regime. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Tribunal Set Up for Saddam Trial (April 21, 2004)
The Iraqi National Congress (INC) appointed Salem Chalabi, nephew of the head of the INC, Ahmed Chalabi, as general director of the tribunal to try Saddam Hussein. The INC has limited support and credibility within Iraq, due to its close ties with the US administration. (BBC)

Iraq Leaders Create Tribunal for Saddam (April 20, 2004)
The tribunal set up by Iraqi leaders to try Saddam Hussein and other members of the Baathist regime will be an Iraqi court, not an international body. The court will rely on a mix of Iraqi criminal law, international regulations such as the Geneva Convention, and the experience of bodies such as the Rwanda war crimes tribunal. (Associated Press)

The Trial (April 7, 2004)
Iraqi judges and prosecutors met with international war crimes tribunal officials seeking additional input in the Iraq tribunal process. So far the US government has not held or encouraged open, international meetings, keeping the process "behind closed doors." (New York Times)

US Steps Up Plans for Tribunal on Iraq War Crimes (April 6, 2004)
To step up preparations for war crimes cases against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and others top Baath party leaders, the US government plans to dispatch a "regime crimes" adviser and begin training sessions for Iraqi judges and investigators. (Reuters)

Mystery Tribunal (April 5, 2004)
Human rights advocates and other observers are pressing for more transparency in preparation for Iraq's war crimes tribunal. By concealing the preparations for the tribunal the US government shows its contempt for international opinion. (Washington Post)

Lawyers Jostle to Represent Saddam (March 29, 2004)
A French and a Jordanian lawyer fought publicly over the right to represent former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Jacques Verges and Mohammad Rashdan both claim that they have been contacted by Saddam's relatives. (Agence France Press)

US War Crime Experts Sent to Iraq (March 7, 2004)
Washington sent a team of legal experts and FBI staff to Iraq to "assist" Iraqi prosecutors to lay the "groundwork" for war crimes cases against Saddam Hussein and others. The group known as the "Regime Crimes Adviser's Office," will however first report to the Coalition Provisional Authority and only then turn over their work to Iraqi prosecutors. (BBC)

Parliament Sets Up Panel to Look into Saddam Trial (February 16, 2004)
In 2003 the Kuwaiti government set up a special committee to account for war crimes committed during Iraq's invasion of the emirate. In addition, the Kuwaiti parliament's Legal Affairs Committee has created a sub-committee in 2004, to consider the legal aspects of a trial against Saddam Hussein and other Baath party leaders. Both initiatives reinforce Kuwait's perseverance to bring Saddam to trial. (Gulf News)

Iraqis Want to Try Saddam without POW Status (February 15, 2004)
Following a summit in Kuwait, Iraq and its six neighbors released a statement commending "the decision of the Iraqi people to bring the leaders of the previous regime, particularly the former President of Iraq, to justice and to try them for their crimes against humanity…" The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council will ask the US to "hand over Saddam Hussein and to remove his status as a prisoner of war when Iraqis take over power on June 30." (Reuters)

What a Fair Trial for Saddam Would Entail (January 25, 2004)
Noam Chomsky argues that a fair trial for Saddam Hussein must explore Washington's support for the former dictator. Former US President George Bush as well as Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld backed Saddam's regime from the early 1980s until Iraqs invasion of Kuwait. (Toronto Star)

Iraqis Fear They Can't Put Saddam on Trial (January 10, 2004)
The Pentagon's decision to declare Saddam Hussein a prisoner of war (POW) caused outrage in the Iraqi Governing Council and among the population. Iraqi officials fear that the POW status will prevent them from putting Saddam on trial in Iraq. Some speculate that the US fears Saddam would expose secret contacts between Washington and Baghdad and thus wants to prevent a trial in Iraq. (Associated Press)


Who Will Testify at Saddam's Trial? (December 22, 2003)
This New York Observer article looks at the possibility of Saddam Hussein incriminating a long list of Reagan and Bush administration officials at his own trial. The article also raises the question whether justice is fully served if Saddam's accomplices such as Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney go unpunished.

Saddam Verdict Expected to Take Five Years (December 21, 2003)
Iraqi officials and judges involved in preparing a possible war crimes trial for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein revealed that Hussein's trial will take at least five years. The volume and complexity of the case, the inadequacy of Iraq's legal system, and the intricacies of war crime will hinder the process. (Telegraph)

Not the Court of First Resort (December 21, 2003)
This Washington Post article considers the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the best choice to try Saddam Hussein. The ICC statute states that only if a country proves "unable or unwilling to prosecute," is jurisdiction transferred to the ICC. This allows the Iraqi people to either try Saddam Hussein themselves or cede power to an international tribunal.

New Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal Ironically Emulates International Court US Opposes (December 20, 2003)
The statute establishing the Iraqi Special Tribunal prompted comparison to the 1998 Rome statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US ironically helped oversee the drafting of the statue for the Iraqi tribunal but remains the strongest opponent to the ICC. (Associated Press)

Kuwait Presses for Active Role in Trying Saddam Hussein (December 18, 2003)
The Kuwaiti government is preparing indictments against Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi officials for war crimes committed during the1990 Iraqi invasion of the emirate. Kuwait will not press for the extradition of Hussein but wants to see him tried in a "combination of an Iraqi tribunal and an international court." (Agence France Press)

Try Saddam in an International Court (December 15, 2003)
Kenneth Roth presents arguments in favor of an International Criminal Tribunal for Saddam Hussein. He further argues that Washington's opposition to an internationally-led tribunal reflects self-interest, not concern for the Iraqi people. (International Herald Tribune)

From Pedestal to Tribunal (December 15, 2003)
This Christian Science Monitor article critically views the possible trial of Saddam Hussein in an Iraqi court. While acknowledging the significance of such a trial for the Iraqi people, the article doubts the possibility for a fair trial that would consider all factors, such as the US's former ties with the dictator.

Impartial Judgement for Saddam? (December 15, 2003)
This Aljazeera article highlights the biased treatment of Saddam Hussein by journalists and the US military. As a prisoner of war, Hussein has rights under the Geneva Convention and is entitled to receive a fair trial.

Tehran to File Complaint against Saddam (December 15, 2003)
Iran prepares a criminal complaint to present at any international court that may try former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Iran wants an international court to determine who equipped Saddam Hussein for his invasion of Iran in the 1980-1988 war. (Aljazeera)

Rights Court Run by Iraqis Is Approved By Council (December 10, 2003)
The Iraqi Governing Council approved the creation of a war crimes tribunal. The court's staff will consist of Iraqi prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys. International legal experts will serve as advisors. Human rights organizations question the competence and impartiality of the judicial system. (Washington Post)

Kuwait Seeks UN Help to Indict Saddam Aides for War Crimes (October 28, 2003)
Kuwait formed a special committee to prepare war crime indictments against former Iraqi officials. A United Nations expert will assist the committee to investigate war crimes committed during Baghdad's occupation of the emirate in 1990. (Agence France-Presse)

Council Ponders Tribunal Process (October 20, 2003)
The US government, human rights organizations and Iraqis want to see the establishment of a war crimes court in Iraq. Yet their demands for the court differ. Debates within the Iraqi Governing Council seem to indicate a compromise solution. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting)

Iraq: Justice Needs International Role (July 15, 2003)
The Governing Council made progress toward accountability in Iraq when it established a war crimes tribunal, but international involvement is necessary to ensure impartiality. (Human Rights Watch)

Let the UN Put Saddam on Trial (April 21, 2003)
Only the United Nations has the legitimacy and credibility to establish a human rights court to try Iraqi leaders for war crimes. If the Pentagon proceeds with plans to set up a US military tribunal to carry out this task, the entire process will be discredited as "victor's justice." (International Herald Tribune)

Splits Widen on the Road to Justice (April 20, 2003)
The State Department and the Pentagon are at odds about how to try former Iraqi leaders for human rights violations. The Pentagon wants a US military tribunal, while the State Department prefers a tribunal based in Iraq staffed by Iraqi lawyers and judges. Neither endorses a UN tribunal which would give the process international legitimacy. (Observer)

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