Saturday, May 10, 2008

*Bad* ICTR ... no cookie for you!

Opinio Juris serves up this piece of ridiculous-pie: "ICTR 'Disowns' Human Rights Watch".

Apparently, although HRW is an NGO on which "the UN Court has relied on for the last 14 years for expert testimony", "the prosecutor accused HRW of lack of credibility and having confused the collection of information on the violations of human rights in general and international criminal proceedings". To which I can only respond: come again?

This is ICTR's response to HRW's arguments against sending the remaining accused persons to stand trial in Kigali, which would allow ICTR to close up shop. Kevin Jon Heller, author of the OJ post, has written on the unlikelihood of fair trials for the accused under the Rwandan justice system (Heller, Kevin Jon, "What Happens to the Acquitted?" . Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 21, 2008 Available at SSRN: and HRW has documented the problem as well.

Now, call me crazy, but isn't this part of the justification for international ad hoc tribunals anyway? And wasn't everyone (justifiably) up in arms when the Iraqis tried Hussein in sketchy circumstances? On a human level, I can't really blame the Rwandan system for being willing to play a little fast an loose with the rights of the accused, given the horrific nature of the crimes. But the fact that we may empathize doesn't mean we agree.

Also, I am sooo tired of human rights NGO's being relied upon when it suits a courts purposes, and then discarded the second they disagree. I have seen this many times in the refugee system: Amnesty or HRW suggests a country is safe, back you go! But if they suggest otherwise, and a "neutral" source (99.9% of the time, US State Department reports) disagree or are less emphatic, then obviously the NGO, as a partisan organization (who goal is, apparently, to invent or exaggerate human rights abuses, as if that were necessary, to allow fake refugees to make claims) cannot be believed.

Keep an eye on this, folks.

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