Iraq’s judicial process

Has the Iraqi High Tribunal treated former Saddam aides unfairly?

  Human rights groups have criticised the proceedings
of the Iraqi High Tribunal [GALLO/GETTY]

Reconciliation is not easy in a place like Iraq.

The so-called ‘de-Baathification’ of Iraqi society following the US invasion, saw members of the former regime hunted down and excluded from any role in the post-Saddam era. The efforts to bring justice culminated on December 30, 2006 in the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president.

Amnesty and leniency remains in short supply when it comes to Saddam’s former aides.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former vice president, initially received a life sentence. This verdict was overturned and he was executed in March 2007. One of Saddam’s most feared associates – Ali Hassan al Majid, known as Chemical Ali – was sentenced to death for his attacks on Iraqi Kurds. His execution has been delayed due to legal wrangling.

The latest case currently before the Iraqi High Tribunal is that of Tariq Aziz, the international face of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The former foreign minister is facing charges linked to the execution of 42 merchants in 1992. His first court appearance last month did not include his defence team. As number 25 on the famous ‘most wanted’ list of Saddam’s former regime, Aziz could face death by hanging.

Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former foreign minister,
is facing trial [GALLO/GETTY]

Iraq’s government and judiciary have continued their campaign of holding the former regimes’ officials accountable. But human rights groups have criticised the proceedings of the Iraqi High Tribunal – at times saying the legal procedures have been flawed, with speed overtaking due process. They claim the tribunal has made serious factual and legal errors. For their part, Iraqi officials have staunchly defended the tribunal.
But critics say that fast-track trials, with disputed legal procedures, could undermine Iraq’s judicial process. They argue this could compromise the sort of open sovereignty which was supposed to have replaced the dark days of Saddam.

Inside Iraq this week looks into the on-going trials of former Saddam aides, and explores the contentious issues surrounding the best means to try people who have been closely associated with regimes accused of human rights abuses.  

Our guests this week:

Aref Shaheen, the head of the Iraqi High Tribunal, Zeinab Tariq Aziz, the daughter of Tariq Aziz, Abderrahim Sabir, a spokesperson for Human Rights Watch in the Middle East and North Africa.

Watch part one of this episode of Inside Iraq

Watch part two of this episode of Inside Iraq

This episode of Inside Iraq aired on Friday, June 06, 2008

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Source : Al Jazeera

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