Friday 23 March 2012

Afghan killings by Bales a war crime?

Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which the United States is a signatory, makes it a war crime to murder civilians. If the killing of a civilian - a non-combatant - is intentional or is not justified by military necessity, a war crime has been committed. For example, the execution of hostages or prisoners would be such a crime. In an international conflict, the violation could be prosecuted as wilful killing under the grave breaches provisions of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; in an internal conflict, the crime could be prosecuted as murder under domestic law of the country where the killings took place or under Article 3.
Therefore it came as a surprise today to read that Staff Sergeant Robert Scott Bales is to be prosecuted in America under US Army law on 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and other violations of military law, for the alleged massacre of 17 – up from 16 – Afghans on 11 March in Panjwai. 
Can anyone explain why he was removed from the scene of the crime to Kansas and is being prosecuted in the United States and not at the International War Crimes Tribunal?Already it has been made clear that he will not face the death penalty for his alleged crimes and that there will be probably be 'difficulties' getting Afghan witnesses to come to America to testify. This decision stinks of old fashioned imperialism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is the USA a signatory to the War Crimes Tribunal? If I recall correctly, in 2002-or so, they held off this for fear of exactly the scenario that has played out.
And, in fairness, from the most benign angle, would you not agree that the US Army has a duty of care to ensure that someone who is most likely mentally-ill be dealt with in as humane a fashion possible and by courts that have a history of the kind of thoroughness and integrity befitting a NATO member. Leaving him in an Afghan prison? Hmm. Putting him in front of assorted judges in the Hague from such bastions of solid Human Rights and well-established legal precedent as Gambia, Lesotho, etc. I think even Obama and Clinton have enough sense . . . .