26.06.2014 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Responsibility for war crimes is unavoidable!

54646Recent decades will certainly go down in history as the era in which individual nefarious politicians used forceful solutions to further their ambitious plans to “take over the world.” By bringing together a military coalition against Iraq, Libya, Syria, and many other states, the White House seeks to solve global problems through foreign interventions, bringing iniquity by force of arms, massive civilian casualties, and violating universally recognized human rights.

Washington and its henchmen’s calculation that they will get away with all these crimes by virtue of being the “champions of the world” was wrong from the outset, and accountability will come in any case, as the world has changed, and the days of having slaves have sunk into oblivion.

At least in the UK and in some Western European countries this has already been understood, when this January the International Criminal Court (ICC) was sent a volume dossier with 250 pages of allegations implicating British political and military circles in mass crimes, systematic human rights violations, and torture during the military intervention in Iraq in 2003-2009. As reported by the British media, the dossier contains more than 1,000 alleged cases of torture and 200 cases of murders committed in violation of the rules of warfare. Among them are beatings, threats to shoot, electric shocks, burns, rapes, and deprivation of sleep, food, and water. Such methods of “affecting” detainees were used by the British military during the conflict in Northern Ireland and have been officially banned in the United Kingdom in 1972.

The main initiators of the ICC charges are the human rights organization European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights based in Berlin and the British law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), specializing in human rights court cases. As mentioned, many defendants were political and military representatives of Great Britain during that period, in particular the former Chief of Staff of the British Army, General Sir Peter Wall, former defense minister Geoff Hoon, former deputy defense minister Adam Ingram, and several others. Particular emphasis is placed on the document that guided the country at that time, the defense department and general staff of the armed forces of Great Britain faces “knew and could not have not known” about the crimes committed, and either failed to take measures to suppress or ignored the need to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

Recall that the British armed forces joined the American troops in March 2003, and at the time of the Iraq invasion their number peaked at 46,000 soldiers. Then they gradually reduced their numbers from year to year down to 4,100 in May 2009, when Britain formally withdrew from Iraq. By the end of the eight-year war in 2011, approximately 44 British troops remained in the country. During the war, Britain lost 179 soldiers.

In 2006, the International Criminal Court previously recognized that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq, but declined to prosecute, explaining its position by the fact that the submitted documents at the time concerned only a small number of cases: less than 20 crimes.

Last October, the ICC was criticized by the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, which accused the court of becoming in recent years a “political tool aimed only at Africa and Africans”.

After the death in September 2003 in an army hospital in Basra of Iraqi Baha Mousa, it became known that his death was caused by systematic beatings by British soldiers, electric shock torture, and hunger. A considerable number of such cases have come to light, which allowed the British law firm Public Interest Lawyers, representing the interests of the family of Baha Mousa, to initiate a judicial investigation, as a result of which Corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty to inhumane treatment of prisoners. He was imprisoned for one year, and he became the first and only British soldier sentenced for war crimes.

Britain continues to reject accusations of torture and inhuman abuse of military prisoners, but states that if in the course of new investigations incidents of torture are confirmed, the “families of the victims of torture will be compensated”, however the UK authorities do not mention any penalty for political representatives and military leadership at the time.

As a result of the start of a new trial regarding war crimes in Iraq, the United Kingdom, positioning itself as the “standard of democracy,” became the first Western state faced with a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, placing it in the company of countries such as the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Colombia.

It is hoped that the UK will not be the only Western country that is the object of investigation by the ICC, as British political and military representatives are not the only ones mired in war crimes. The list of the guilty, assuming a persistent and tough stance by the world community, should of course include the names of the Washington hawks who caused undue deaths as a result of violence and violations of human rights for hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and numerous other countries. It would be wonderful to also see the list include the names of former Georgian President Saakashvili and his henchmen who provoked military aggression against South Ossetia and the Georgian people in 2008. We must not forget about the ongoing atrocities in Ukraine, where the civilian population, dissenting with the policy of the new government, became victims of military terror, and the number dying from mortar fire and air strikes by the Ukrainian army acting on the orders of officials and oligarchs and Kiev is constantly growing.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator and a columnist for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.