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What this murder demands

| 6 January 2007

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  • The illegal summary execution of President Saddam Hussein has revealed definitively the character of Iraq’s occupation-imposed government
  • International legal and human rights institutions along with world governments must withdraw recognition from Iraq’s criminal government and conduct a full investigation on the execution of President Saddam Hussein
  • The Iraqi national popular resistance should be recognised as the sole legitimate and legal protector of the Iraqi people and the continuity of the state of Iraq

The cowardly brutality of the summary execution of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has shocked the world. The vengeful and sectarian nature of Iraq’s occupation-imposed puppet government has been proven beyond doubt. No executioner’s hood can conceal its disgrace. George W Bush’s “new Iraq” stands exposed for all to see. The era that has ended is not that of Arab nationalism; it is the era in which the hypocrisy and impunity of US imperialism can be cloaked in lies.

Maliki and militias suicide

The Iraqi Higher Criminal Court that sentenced President Saddam Hussein to death is unequivocally illegal under international and Iraqi law.1 Created by US Proconsul L Paul Bremer, it was never anything but a US-orchestrated puppet court.2 A key aim was to establish a veneer of legality to an illegal invasion of a sovereign state. The catalogue of due process violations that characterised its proceedings stands testament to the impunity with which the pre-written trial outcome was imposed.3 The imposition of a death sentence after an unfair trial is a grave violation of international law and an affront to universal human values.4 US claims about protesting this execution are pure propaganda.

President Saddam Hussein was a prisoner of war with protected status under international law.5 He remained the lawful president of Iraq having never capitulated to foreign invading armies and given the illegality of the 2003 US-led invasion. His execution constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.6 It was illegal under Iraqi law and an affront — in coinciding with the festival of Eid Al-Adha, a time of reconciliation and generosity — to Islamic tradition and culture.7

It was not Saddam Hussein’s death warrant that Nouri Al-Maliki signed so publicly but his own political and moral downfall along with that of the militias and gangs he is leading. The haste and the glee with which Maliki rushed through the execution exposes clearly the sole division that exists in Iraq, between the occupation and its local lackeys and the Iraqi population and its resistance to America’s murderous agenda. This execution finds its place within an American strategy that at the least seeks to humiliate Iraq and at worst aims to foment mass civil strife if not a wider regional conflict.

The criminal Maliki government cannot now be recognised by any government, institution, association or citizen as either a protector of Iraq and its people, or of legality and Iraqi custom.

Only the Iraqi national popular resistance is the guarantor and protector of Iraqi sovereignty and the continuity of the Iraqi state. The national popular resistance is the only legal authority that can represent the Iraqi people and determine a path towards peace and stability in Iraq.8

Law should defend justice, not imperialism

Defeated on the ground militarily, politically and morally, the US-led occupation can only attempt to cow the Iraqi people with atrocities. It is a hopeless policy. Nothing will allow the United States and its criminal partners to impose on Iraq a future that is contrary to the fundamental interests and rights of the Iraqi people.

International institutions of law and human rights practice, by their silence or timidity, have not only failed the people of Iraq but also the people of the world. International law is the arbiter and guarantor of world peace. Mandated authorities are tasked to oversee the actions of states and governments and intervene as necessary to protect not only inalienable individual and collective rights but the standing of law as the moral foundation upon which world peace is secured.

No recognition to blood-soaked criminals

We demand that governments across the world withdraw recognition and any legitimacy afforded to the current criminal Iraqi government and recognise the Iraqi resistance as the sole representative of the Iraqi people and the continuity of the Iraqi state, its sovereignty and integrity.

We demand that the UN General Assembly and international and national judicial bodies, syndicates and associations act to redress the failure of international institutions and individuals and use available discretionary powers or courts with universal jurisdiction over serious war crimes to bring to justice all those responsible for and connected to the illegal summary execution of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.9

We call upon all political groups and human rights organisations, along with progressive and humanist intellectuals, to unite to defend peace, international law and justice by defending the Iraqi people and its legitimate representative, the Iraqi resistance.

2007 must be the year in which the illegal and murderous occupation of Iraq is brought to an end.

2007 must be the year in which law defends justice, not imperialism, and in which the moral foundations upon which world peace depends are renewed by unseating and prosecuting the war criminals of Washington and London and their Green Zone puppets in Baghdad.

Abdul Ilah Albayaty (BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee)

Ian Douglas (BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee)

Karen Parker (BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee)

Hana Albayaty (BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee)

Dirk Adriaensens (BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee)

Inge Van De Merlen (BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee)

This statement was written by Ian Douglas with the cooperation of Abdul Ilah Albayaty and Hana Al Bayaty, and was first published by the BRussells Tribunal: http://brussellstribunal.org/execution.htm
  1. Under international humanitarian law, occupying powers under are expressly prohibited from changing the judicial structures of occupied states. See Articles 43 and 55 of The Hague IV Regulations on Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907; Articles 54 and 64 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949. See also Articles 70 and 65 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949; Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that courts be established under pre-existing law.
    The Iraqi Higher Criminal Court is inconsistent with Iraqi law in that it violates basic principles of international human rights law that are binding on Iraqi authorities according to Article 44 of the Interim Constitution of Iraq of 1990, which remains in force given that the 2005 Permanent Iraqi Constitution is illegal in having been imposed under conditions of occupation and in violation of the laws of war (See Articles 43 and 55 of The Hague IV Regulations on Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907; Articles 54 and 64 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949). Further, the court was formed in violation of processes set forth in Section IV, Articles 60 and 61 of the Interim Constitution and the Iraqi Law on Judicial Organisation, the latter illegally annulled by Coalition Provisional Authority Order No 15 of 23 June 2003.
  2. That the occupying power, through the Coalition Provisional Authority, created the Iraqi Higher Criminal Court is established by the fact that Order No 48, containing the statute of the court, had to be signed by Coalition Provisional Authority Civil Administrator L Paul Bremer before it could enter into force. That the Iraqi Higher Criminal Court remained a puppet of the occupation was proven on countless occasions, as Ramsey Clark and Curtis Doebbler document (see Iraqi Special Tribunal: A Corruption of Justice), and is inherent in the fact that Iraq remains an occupied state — a condition always and deliberately determined by de facto circumstances, not de jure by law or declaration.
  3. See Iraqi Special Tribunal: A Corruption of Justice by Ramsey Clark and Curtis Doebbler (13 September 2006).
  4. Article 6, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits the imposition of the death penalty when it does not apply “in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime.” The retroactive application of the death penalty violates the Iraqi Penal Code, which states in Article 1: “no act or omission shall be penalised except in accordance with a legislative provision under which the said act or omission is regarded as a criminal offence at the time of its occurrence.” This arbitrary application of the death penalty is also a violation of the right to life in Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. See also Provisions 2, 4 and 5 of the UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty.
  5. Article 3 The Hague IV Regulations, 1907, states: “The armed forces of the belligerent parties may consist of combatants and non-combatants. In the case of capture by the enemy, both have a right to be treated as prisoners of war.”
  6. Strict conditions apply to the prosecution of prisoners of war (POW) by belligerent states. As a POW, and had the 2003 US-led invasion been legal, President Saddam Hussein could be tried only by a US courts martial and only for war crimes committed under his command after the invasion began 20 March 2003. Given the illegality of the 2003 US-led invasion, President Saddam Hussein’s detention by US forces was illegal under international law, constituting itself a crime of aggression against the nation and state of Iraq. The illegal trial to which President Saddam Hussein was subject violated international humanitarian law relative to the treatment of POWs (see The Third Geneva Convention of 1949) and as such constitutes a war crime as defined by the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950. President Saddam Hussein’s execution constitutes a further and imputable grave war crime and violation of US and Iraqi government obligations to international human rights instruments and of jus cogens principles of international law.
  7. Paragraph 290 of the Iraqi Law on Criminal Proceedings of 1971 states that: “The death penalty cannot be carried out on official holidays and special festivals connected with the religion of the condemned person.”
  8. See Only Resistance Is Legal by Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Ian Douglas and Hana Albayaty (5 October 2006).
  9. While the International Criminal Court cannot be invoked given that neither the United States nor Iraq are State Parties to the Rome Statute, the principle of extra-territorial jurisdiction is increasingly taking hold internationally, particularly in Europe, with recent cases being filed in Germany, Spain and Belgium. France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands all have some provision within national law for universal jurisdiction. High war crimes, including the illegal execution of President Saddam Hussein, like genocide and crimes against humanity, are usually covered by extra-territorial jurisdiction where it exists.
    Regarding the UN General Assembly, one route towards redress could be to invoke UNGA Resolution 377, “Uniting for Peace,” of 1950. UNGA Resolution 377 empowers the UNGA to act in such ways as are necessary to preserve international peace where the UN Security Council fails or declines to act. As said in the statement The Execution of the President issued 29 December 2006: “If the execution of President Saddam Hussein will not lead to an international or global war, it sows the seeds, in its overt illegality, and in conjunction with Washington’s exclusion of international law from international relations, for precisely this outcome.”
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We negate and we must negate because something in us wants to live and affirm — Friedrich Nietzsche