Wednesday, 4 March 2009

War crimes

Following the conviction of a former priest (see my blog of March 1), now a woman MP has been gaoled for life for her part in the Rwanda genocide of 1994. Beatrice Nirere was found guilty of setting up road blocks where victims were detained.

Last week, three rebel commanders in Sierra Leone were convicted of crimes against humanity for systematically mutilating civilians and forcing children to become soldiers, while former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor is also on trial, and the International Criminal Court may soon issue a warrant for the arrest of President Omar Bashir of Sudan for alleged war crimes in Darfur. If this happens, it will be the first time a serving head of state has been indicted.

Meanwhile in Cambodia, the trial has begun of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who ran the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh – now a genocide museum – where at least 14,000 “enemies of the revolution” were tortured and killed in the 1970’s, and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is facing a UN tribunal at The Hague.

Many, many war criminals, of course, still escape justice, but these developments surely represent some cause for optimism that at least some of the guilty will be called to account.

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