Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dr Mahathir Announces War Crimes Tribunal Without Government Backing!

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced Wednesday the creation of a war crimes tribunal that would focus on victims of abuse in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

He said the tribunal -- and an investigating commission linked to it -- was necessary as an alternative to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which he accused of bias in its selection of cases to cover.

The court does not have government backing and Mahathir admitted he needed money to set it up and that it would be hard to persuade heads of government accused of wrongdoing to attend.

"There will be people who take this thing seriously," he said. "This is not a show."

"The one punishment that most leaders are afraid of is to go down in history with a certain label attached to them," he added at a press conference. "In history books they should be written down as war criminals and this is the kind of punishment we can make to them. "We cannot arrest them, we cannot detain them, and we cannot hang them the way they hanged Saddam Hussein."

Dr Mahathir, who played a high-profile role on the international stage before stepping down in 2003, has seized on the issue of conflict in the Middle East during his retirement. He did not specify who would be targeted by the tribunal, but said it would focus on abuses in Iraq, Palestinian territories and Lebanon -- indicating it was aimed at United States and Israeli military actions. "We think that it is time we set up a body, a tribunal, which will give an opportunity for these people to bring up their complaints to be heard."

Mahathir also plans a war crimes commission which would first investigate allegations of abuse. He will sit on its panel along with five Malaysian legal experts, including one from the nation's hardline Islamic opposition party.

The tribunal would be staffed by former judges and law professors from home and abroad, including a Malaysian former chief justice, he said.

However he conceded it would be difficult to obtain the evidence needed to conduct a thorough trial and that the proposal was short on funding. "We are asking for donations from interested people," he said. "It's not been easy."

Mahathir will next week host a war crimes conference attended by some 17 Palestinians, Iraqis and Lebanese who allege they are the victims of abuse and torture. The new commission will then begin investigating their cases. The tribunal itself, provided its judges have been appointed, would operate as soon as the inquiry panel has referred its first dossier upward.

Mahathir did not specify if the court would have a defence and prosecution, saying the accused would be invited to send their representative, but vowed it would not be like the "kangaroo court" that tried Saddam. (Channel Newsasia)

***** So there you are. He is actually unilaterally setting up a war crimes tribunal as well as a commission! If there is one person who can see this through successfully, it is undoubtedly Dr Mahathir. Frankly an alternative tribunal is a good idea. Too much western control of the present mechanism is not a very healthy situation. We wish him good luck and great success.

Image - opencontent

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Blogger kittykat46 said...

Nice idea, but unfortunately I think totally unenforceable. All cross-boundary criminal proceedings are required to be handled on a government to government basis. Period. There is no way for a parallel privately intitated tribunal and commission to function.

Especially if you are thinking of taking on DA BIG GUY , yeah, the guy with the aircraft carriers and Stealth bombers.
There is virtually no way to prosecute a sitting head of state in his official capacity, even for a small country, let alone DA BIG GUY with the giant economy and giant military.
A civil suit against Bush after he retires might have slightly more chance, and I'm sure there are people already thinking of how to go about it. Still very difficult to sue him on actions he took in his official capacity.

Wish those working this initiative Good luck, just be prepared for a very disappointing outcome

8:23 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

kittykat46, you're undoubtedly correct in your opinion. Let us wait and see how far the Tun gets in this latest 'venture' of his. But I will never underestimate his single-mindedness and determination.

8:38 PM GMT+8  
Blogger mob1900 said...

now we have TWO senile old men...

9:44 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

Now, now mob!!

9:58 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous nat said...

sorryla, but i find it very difficult to even think about such a judicial institution coming from a man who single-handedly destroyed his country's judiciary :P

1:21 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Impolitic said...

Dear Malaysian,

There are lots of people who express admiration for the former PM's single-mindedness and determination. Oftentimes during his reign, it resembled bloody-mindedness and a most ruthless kind of determination. People appear to have short memories when it comes to the former PM. Perhaps it is the malaise that the current PM and administration are languishing in or; the ex-PM 'riding in' like a white knight who is bent on righting all the current wrongs and saving the day.

That aside, as kittykat46 correctly points out, this idea of a parallel tribunal is farcical at best. I especially like the idea of a former Malaysian chief justice sitting on the tribunal [Tun Salleh Abas anyone?]!

Interesting also that, according to the ex-PM, this tribunal will focus on abuses in Iraq, Palestinian territories and Lebanon. Thus, it appears to be set in a directly adversarial position to the current international forums for justice and their 'perceived bias'. How can a tribunal, constituted on the alleged basis of administering justice, "focus" on anything per se?!

The ex-PM will do well to remember his own pearls of wisdom:

"The one punishment that most leaders are afraid of is to go down in history with a certain label attached to them."

His grouses about all things "kangaroo court" related should be heeded seriously though. He is, after all, a leading authority on the subject given the in-depth experiment he carried out in 1988.

It's truly amazing how short people's memories tend to be.

8:18 AM GMT+8  
Blogger BrightEyes said...

"What about Darfur? Liberia? Sierra Leone? O yea, I forgot... Petronas in Sudan so lets just ignore that & focus ONLY on Lebanon, Palestine, & Iraq. Also ignore the fact that I had lots detained for political reasons, destroyed the judiciary system back in '88, and threw my deputy in jail 10 yrs later. And now Im becoming a spokesman for "global justice". Ok anyway, pls donate for this tribunal? Please? I'll sing La Cucharacha for a ringgit..."

4:00 PM GMT+8  

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