More on Saddam’s Capture

More news of Hussein’s capture at The Guardian, CNN, the BBC, and the Guardian (again). The beeb also has some pictures of Saddam and the “spider hole”.

I found this page of quotes particularly interesting.

Hans Blix: “He ought to know quite a lot and be able to tell the story and we all want to get to the bottom of the barrel.

I’m sure the US will talk to him about that.”

Yasuo Fakuda: “I believe it is too optimistic to think that activities by the remnants of the Hussein regime and foreign terrorists, who have launched terrorist attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, would stop just because of his arrest,”

And some public reaction.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of Saddam being tried in Iraq. On the one hand, I think it would reduce the animosity in the Arab world for Saddam to be tried by the Iraqi people. An international tribunal has the potential to exacerbate existing tensions around western intervention into Arab affairs.

On the other hand, it worries me on a number of grounds.

  1. The Iraqi legal system is very unstable at the moment, potentially leading to a trial that does not meet international fair trial standards – international observers (such as Amnesty International) must be invited to the process, and it must be a public trial
  2. The U.S is likely to have undue influence over proceedings
  3. It reduces the risk that U.S human rights offenses (related to the U.S support for Saddam’s regime both politically and militarily) will not be uncovered, let alone prosecuted
  4. The International Criminal Court is ideally suited to this kind of trial. the U.S is strongly opposed to such a court, and as such is unlikely to support a trial within it. This is a big blow for the court and its effectiveness as an international instrument of justice

All that said, it is good news that Saddam has been captured. It is indeed the end of a tyranous reign by Hussein’s regime. But the buck shouldn’t stop at Hussein – the war was not predicated on the basis of Saddam’s human rights record, it was predicated on the basis of his “imminent threat” of using WMD. As Hans Blix rightfully states, we “want to get to the bottom of the barrel”.