News Release

The Trial of Saddam: Victor’s Justice?


Falk is an emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, currently visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of the book The Great Terror War. He said today: “Saddam Hussein is certainly an appropriate target of a war crimes trial. But it’s obscure exactly what is being undertaken in this trial. There is every reason to be suspicious about it because of the way it is being arranged, with a great deal of U.S. influence behind the scenes and a narrow scope. What unfolds is not likely to give the impression of a fair trial.

“Particularly problematic is that it is taking place at a time of ongoing U.S. crimes in Iraq, and therefore highlights the U.S. hypocrisy. There is also the gap created by the U.S. blocking of the International Criminal Court and at the same time sponsoring the trial of Saddam; this contradiction makes it seem that this is simply a means of going after our political enemies; in effect, victor’s ‘justice.’ The narrow scope of the charges seems designed to ensure that U.S. complicity with Hussein’s crimes will be excluded from real scrutiny.”

Falk was involved with the World Tribunal on Iraq, which held its culminating session in Istanbul in June. Said Falk: “Ironically, that tribunal, organized by civil society, seems more objective in its approach than this governmental extravaganza.”
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Stork is deputy director for the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch, which recently released a briefing paper, “The Former Iraqi Government on Trial.” Stork said today: “Problems with the tribunal and its statute include:
· “No requirement to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
· “Inadequate protections for the accused to mount a defense on conditions equal to those enjoyed by the prosecution.
· “Disputes among Iraqi political factions over control of the court, jeopardizing its appearance of impartiality.
· “A draconian requirement that prohibits commutation of death sentences by any Iraqi official, including the president, and compels execution of the defendant within 30 days of a final judgment.”
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Director of the American Kurdish Information Network, Xulam said today: “On the one hand, I very much look forward to Saddam Hussein being in court and paying for his crimes. But I am also troubled by the format. Although the intervention in Iraq was a one-sided U.S. thing, justice for the crimes of Mr. Hussein could have been a U.N. undertaking.”
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Choueiry is a press officer for Amnesty International, which has a three-person delegation in Baghdad to observe the opening session of the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167