Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Justice, not bombs, will stop the terrorists

Letter to the Sunday Times - October 20th 2002

Sir

Marie Colvin (War on terror, last week) reports that the likelihood of Saddam being exiled receded after Bush made it clear that he wants Saddam tried for war crimes.

The idea that either the Americans or Saddam himself would permit an exile solution is implausible. In the unlikely event of him being taken prisoner he could be forced to stand trial. This could be achieved by the Security Council authorising an ad hoc tribunal such as that for Rwanda or Yugoslavia. (The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction, both because its statutes are not retrospective and because Iraq is not a signatory state.) However, it would be open to America to assert territorial jurisdiction as the allies did at Nuremberg and initiate prosecutions without specific authority from the Security Council.

Saddam has committed not only war crimes but also genocide against the Marsh Arabs and Iraq has been a signatory to the UN Convention on Genocide since 1952. The convention requires all contracting parties to prevent and punish genocide and to ensure that those charged are tried by a competent tribunal of the state in the territory in which the act was committed.

A tribunal could also, of course, be set up by a successor government in Iraq with or without American or UN support.

Dr. Charles Tannock MEP (Con)
Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman, European Parliament