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>> The Financial Times


ARAB COURT BASED ON ICC WOULD DETER WAR CRIMES

The Financial Times - March 7, 2012

from Mr Aryeh Neier *

Sir, Your editorial (“Threaten Assads over war crimes”, Editorial, March 2) rightly suggests that the threat of international prosecutions could plant “fear in the minds of all those who are wondering whether to be in the last ditch with the Assads when their reign ends”. Yet, as you point out, such a threat is not imminent because Russia and China will block referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court in the UN Security Council.

There is an alternative route. The Arab League could establish a court modelled on the ICC. Such a court could be given jurisdiction over crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the statute for the ICC. It would have Arab judges, Arab prosecutors, Arab investigators and Arab defence attorneys, and it would conduct its proceedings in Arabic.

It would take time to establish such a tribunal, of course. Yet an Arab League resolution creating it could specify that priority would be given to prosecutions for crimes committed following adoption of such a resolution. That would signal to those who have already committed great crimes in Syria that their best way to avoid prosecution would be to stop carrying out atrocities on behalf of the Assads.

Your editorial refers to the significant role played by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. It is worth adding that, though many were sceptical about the ICTY when it was created in 1993, it eventually apprehended every one of those it indicted on all sides of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

 

* President, Open Society Foundations





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