Thursday, December 03, 2009

International Criminal Court sought out

Update (3:40 p.m.) below.

There's an item in the Globe this morning that is found at the end of a report but which seems pretty important:
Separately, two human-rights professors, acting on Mr. Colvin's testimony, have asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to expand a preliminary analysis of allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan to include figures beyond retired general Rick Hillier and former defence minister Gordon O'Connor.
First, with respect to the details of that news, does this mean Rick Hillier and Gordon O'Connor are already part of a preliminary look at the issue by the Court? That's what it reads like. And it sounds very current, action taken post-Colvin's testimony and perhaps related to that preliminary investigation referenced in the WSJ this week. Another question, who else might be included among those "figures beyond" Hillier and O'Connor?

This news should be enough to give this government serious pause about its refusal to have a public judicial inquiry. Are they prepared to let Canada be investigated by the International Criminal Court, our military and political leaders? With all that entails for Canada's name on the world stage?

Reading accounts of yesterday's Afghan Commons Committee with the unreal evidence given, watching our media coverage saturated with accounts of blacked out documents being dumped on the committee at the last minute, listening to the Prime Minister spin legal principles, following the trail of all the leaked documents...it's not getting any better at this point, that should be clear.

This is not an ordinary political bump to be managed out of the PMO in the hopes that it will go away yet they're treating it like that. There should be some capability among these people to distinguish the everyday partisan fight from one that's not.

There are mechanisms in place independent of the Harper government and they are being sought out. Maybe the international aspect to this is going to wake Mr. Harper up. We'll see.

Update (3:40 p.m.): Here is a liveblog item of Professor Michael Byers speaking about the ICC initiative he is taking along with another professor. The fact that Byers had previously written to the ICC in 2007 was referenced in that Star link above but it was unclear from the Globe's framing of the issue in their report today whether this was indeed the same set of professors/same complaint that was being referenced. The Globe also framed the point as if the preliminary investigation that has been reported in the WSJ presently does include Hillier and O'Connor. This, I assumed, they had corroboration for.

Byers made the point that it would be preferable if the ICC did not have to investigate Canadian officials, that an inquiry be held by Canada instead. This would be the way to prevent that ICC investigation.
Anyway, he wants to send a "strong signal" to the Canadian public that the possibility of prosecution by the ICC is a very real one, and that should galvanize the government to do what is necessary to render that moot.
Exactly, that is the point of it all.

(h/t)