The Iraqi Special Tribunal (Iraq War Crimes Tribunal)

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December 2003: The creation of the tribunal is announced

The AP's Niko Price reported on December 5, 2003 that Iraq was to create a War Crimes Tribunal: "Iraq's U.S.-appointed government will establish a tribunal for crimes against humanity in the coming days that could try hundreds of officials, including Saddam Hussein and his top aides."[1]

"Some human rights groups criticized the plans, saying Iraq's U.S. occupiers have too much of a hand in them and that Iraqi judges and prosecutors may not have the experience needed to try the cases.
"The law creating the tribunal -- which could be passed as early as Sunday -- will be similar to proposals made in Washington in April, one member of [the]Iraqi Governing Council said. The law calls for Iraqi judges to hear cases presented by Iraqi lawyers, with international experts serving only as advisers, [which] would be starkly different from United Nations-sponsored tribunals set up to consider war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. In those cases, international judges and lawyers have argued and decided cases."

Cases to be considered include those initiated by "thousands of family members of the disappeared have filed complaints against members of the former regime." Exactly when cases will be tried is unclear. "The coalition authority now holds at least 5,500 people in prisons, but it isn't known how many of those are war crimes suspects and how many are accused of common crimes."

Evidence will be drawn from "a growing cache of documents seized from the former regime," as well as "from the excavation of mass graves that dot the Iraqi landscape. ... The tribunal will use a combination of laws, according to people who have seen a draft of the plan, including the Iraqi penal code of 1969 and the Iraqi criminal code of 1971. In addition, the new charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity -- taken from international courts -- will be added."

"Some groups questioned the legality of the tribunal. Under the Geneva Conventions, an occupying power can't create new laws, except when needed to restore order," Price wrote.

December 2004: Allawi announces trials are to begin soon

On December 17, 2004, Reuters reported that

"Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced this week that trials would begin, a day before he launched his party's campaign to contest Iraq's first post-Saddam elections, scheduled for January 30... Human Rights Watch said provisions so far put in place, including for preliminary hearings, were insufficient. Judges have not been properly trained, it said, and defendants have not had full access to lawyers. The Special Tribunal's statutes also do not contain explicit guarantees against the use of confessions extracted under torture, or a requirement that guilt be proven beyond reasonable doubt, the rights organisation said." [2]

Related SourceWatch resources

External links

  • 16 July 2003: "After the War: Outlook: Iraqis Plan War-Crime Court; G.I.'s to Stay Until Elections" by Richard A. Opperl, Jr., and Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times (abstract link does not work).
  • 8 December 2003: "Iraq to Create Tribunal to Prosecute Hussein War Crimes" by Susan Sachs, New York Times.
  • 9 December 2003: "Iraqi Council OKs War Crimes Tribunal", AP.
  • 10 December 2003: "Rights Court Run by Iraqis Is Approved By Council" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post.
  • 10 December 2003: "Iraqi War Crimes Tribunals Could Be Used to Settle Old Scores, Some Say" by Sudarsan Raghavan, Knight Ridder.
  • "Iraq war crimes tribunal flawed: rights group", Reuters, December 17, 2004.