24 June, 2012

The 2003 Iraq War - legality

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Shock and Awe
The legality of the 2003 Iraq War - a war embraced enthusiastically by Prime Minister Tony Blair - is a controversial question and, following the publication of diaries by Alistair Campbell, it has been raised again by an article in The Independent 24th June 2012.  It is claimed in the article that the Attorney-General of the day - Lord Goldsmith QC - was prevented by Blair from informing the Cabinet of the complete legal advice.

At the time, Robin Cook MP resigned from the government and a Foreign & Commonwealth Office Legal Adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned.

The Chilcot Inquiry is preparing its report but there are now some calls for it to reconvene to hear evidence of this matter.

The Chilcot Inquiry has published many documents relating to the Iraq War, including advice given by the Attorney-General to the Prime Minister.  The Inquiry also invited international lawyers to make submissions about the legality of the war - Watching the Law 30th June 2010.

See "The invasion of Iraq was lawful" - Head of Legal blog - 27th January 2010.  The view of Lord Bingham of Cornhill (1933-2010) was expressed at the annual Grotius Lecture delivered at Lincoln's Inn on 17th November 2008.  As a judge - (Bingham was formerly Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary) - he had remained silent on the question of legality.  After his retirement, he expressed the view that the invasion was a "serious violation of international law."

Law and Lawyers - Lord Bingham of Cornhill

21 June, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi addresses both Houses of Parliament

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Today, 21st June 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed both Houses of Parliament in the historic Westminster Hall.  Addresses to both Houses are rare.

See BBC 21st June 2012 and Parliament

Earlier in the week, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law - Oxford University.  Here is a video of her speech after the award:


14 June, 2012

The story of capital punishment

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The BBC's Timeshift Series - Series 10 - No.9 - Crime and Punishment: the story of capital punishment is a thought-provoking film.  The whole film is just short of 1 hour in duration and the first 44 minutes traces the history of the death penalty in the UK and the movement for its abolition.  After that, the film turns to look at the situation in the USA and elsewhere.

Within Council of Europe member states the death penalty is abolished under Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights.  Amnesty International has an up-to-date summary of the world wide position.

11 June, 2012

Killing the "bad" guys: the USA and Drones

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This blog has considered the use of drones on three previous occasions - see 16th February 2010; 18th April 2010 and 17th December 2010.  The use of drones to "take out" targets in far away places is a form of extrajudicial killing and, according to The Guardian 11th June 2012 (Obama's drone wars and the normalisation of extrajudicial murder), at least 2400 people have been killed in Pakistan by US drones.  The article claims that President Obama President Obama "has been seduced by political expediency and the lure of new technology into adopting a policy that kills first and asks questions later."

At the present time, it may be that the US has the technological advantage in relation to drones.  However, other states will inevitably acquire this technology and, in that event, the table may turn.




Syria - update 11th June 2012

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It is very difficult to establish the complete truth about what is occurring within Syria but, on any view, the situation is appalling and worsening.  Here are some of the latest reports.

7th June 2012:

The Damascus Centre for Human Rights has documented a massacre at Mazra’at al-Qubeir in Hama.  This took place on 7th June 2012 with some 78 victims including women and children.

Amid growing atrocities and little evidence

02 June, 2012

Rwandan Genocide 1994: Conviction of Callixte Nzabonimana

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Rwandan Genocide 1994:


From April to July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. Begun by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbours. By the time the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front