I can remember how, at his latest news briefing, Blair lost his temper with those journalists who had the temerity to ask his views about the death sentence passed on Saddam Hussein. It was a typical example of Blair's bluster.
It may be more difficult for him to answer the criticisms of the Saddam trial process raised by Human Rights Watch in the report published today.
It's a devastating critique of the trial itself and the
inability of the Iraqi/ US government to conduct what was the most important war crimes trial since Nuremberg.
In the introduction, the report contained this observation:
"The significance of the trials before the IHT [ Iraqi High Tribunal] is difficult to overstate. For the first time since the post-Second World War Nuremberg trials, almost the entire senior leadership cadre of a long-lived repressive government faces trial for gross human rights violations committed during their tenure. At stake is not only justice for hundreds of thousands of victims, but, as at Nuremberg, the historical record itself. The trials represent the first opportunity to create a historical record concerning some of the worst cases of human rights violations, and to begin the process of a methodical accounting of the policies and decisions that gave rise to these events.
Long shrouded in secrecy, the former government’s “bureaucracy of repression” could now potentially be examined in meticulous detail, evidence analyzed and tested, and individual criminal responsibility determined for human rights crimes."
"The picture that emerges from this research is of an institution struggling with all aspects of conducting these legally and factually complicated trials, and also beset by external problems: misunderstanding and hostility in public opinion and from political leaders; grave and increasing security threats to all participants; a bitterly divided legal profession; and a deepening reluctance by other international actors to assist the process. Cumulatively, these limitations have meant that, in the Dujail trial, the court has not met essential fair trial standards and that the credibility of the trial process is doubtful. Human Rights Watch has documented serious administrative, procedural, and substantive legal defects in the trial."
I wonder how Blair will deal with these criticisms. Of course his government has so
abused rebalanced our legal system that he may find little to grumble about.