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JURISDICTION

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DIMINISHING NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY

One thing that amazes me these days is to see how some nations abrogate their sovereignty and the rights of their citizens. For instance, the late General Augusto Pinochet of Chile was arrested while in Britain on the request of Spain and in fact was nearly extradited to that country. It seems incredible that Spain could demand that a third party nation, Britain, arrest a Chilean national for alleged crimes committed against Chileans in Chile. How can Spain claim any sort of jurisdiction over Pinochet? Regardless of the horrific allegations levelled against him, Pinochet was not Spanish and did not commit crimes on Spanish territory or against Spanish citizens. Although Pinochet is dead now, when he was alive, whatever happened to Pinochet was strictly a matter for Chile only.

THE SKASE AFFAIR

The hypocrisy of Spain was clearly demonstrated by the situation of the now deceased fugitive Australian businessman Christopher Skase, who had international arrest warrants against him issued by Australia and was living on the Spanish island of Majorca for years. Australia tried every means possible to extradite Skase for crimes committed in Australia, however Spain put every conceivable obstacle in the way to prevent Skase from being brought to Australia. Spain seemed happy to condone a mega-criminal living on its territory while trying to bring a citizen of another country, Pinochet, to Spain to face trial for crimes committed totally outside Spanish jurisdiction.

DANGEROUS PRECEDENTS

If the extradition of Pinochet by Spain had been successful, this would have set a very dangerous precedent. For instance, if nations can extradite citizens of other countries for crimes committed outside their own jurisdictions, Margaret Thatcher could be extradited by Argentina while visiting France for alleged war crimes committed by the British government during the Falklands War. Any politicians travelling outside their home countries could be arrested and extradited to a third country and tried for alleged crimes, even if they were committed outside that third country's jurisdiction.

THE TOBEN AFFAIR

Not only that, a citizen of one country can be charged by the authorities of another country for an act that is quite legal in his home nation. A good example of this is the matter of Australian Jewish Holocaust denier Frederic Toben, who runs the Adelaide Institute in South Australia. Although we all know that Toben's denial of the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis in World War Two is completely stupid and wrong, the denial of this tragedy is not illegal. People in Australia are free to express their opinions, even if they are completely wrong and stupid.

However, in October 2008, Toben was arrested while travelling in Britain because a German court had issued an arrest warrant against him. In Germany, it is a criminal offence to deny the Holocaust, however the Germans claim that they can proceed against anybody who does so, no matter where they are on the planet and no matter what nationality they are. In other words, the Germans claim legal jurisdiction in such matters over everybody in the world and are prepared to arrest people who deny the Holocaust, even if they do so in their own nations and never step one foot into Germany.

NOBODY IS SAFE

If this sort of thing is allowed to occur, then nobody is safe. For instance, China, which has an abominable human rights record, could issue an international arrest warrant against an Australian citizen who dared to criticise the totalitarian Chinese regime and this warrant could cause the arrest of that person if he travelled to a nation that had an extradition agreement with China. Believe it or not, this has actually happened, but something must be done to prevent it, otherwise anybody who dares open his mouth in his own country about anything occurring in another nation can be dragged to that other nation and jailed or even executed.

As for people being arrested for so-called crimes such as Holocaust denial, this is truly insane. Nobody in their right minds would refute that the mass slaughter of Jews by the Nazis did not happen, however people are entitled to their delusions, exactly the same way as they are entitled to believe that there is a God and that Jesus was the son of that God, although there is not a shred of evidence to support this.

If people such as Frederic Toben and British historian David Irving claim that the Holocaust did not occur, or that it was not as horrible as we all know it was, then they are entitled to their delusions, just like religious people are entitled to delude themselves about their imaginary friends. But it is preposterous for people to be arrested and jailed because they refuse to believe in a historical fact and happen to say so publicly. Even worse is that such people, delusional fools that they are, can be prosecuted by other nations for merely saying these things in their home countries. There really should be enforceable international laws that prevent nations from prosecuting people if they have not committed any crimes in those nations.

WINNERS MAKE THE RULES

Of course justice seems to totally depend on the strength of those who want to dish it out. As a result of the recent NATO war in Kosovo, many Yugoslav nationals were forcibly dragged out of their home country to The Hague to face prosecution for alleged crimes committed by them in Yugoslavia. Admittedly, some of the acts committed in Kosovo were horrific and needed to be addressed, however NATO also committed war crimes, starting with the act of waging war upon Yugoslavia when no NATO member country had been attacked by Yugoslavia, bombing and killing innocent civilians and invading sovereign Yugoslav territory. To this day, not one solitary NATO member or person has been arraigned before the War Crimes Tribunal.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC

Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia was handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. It was noticed that immediately he was sent there, over one billion US dollars were immediately pledged to Yugoslavia by the USA and others. It was very obvious that Milosevic was sold to the Tribunal in exchange for foreign aid, which was certainly not moral and probably resulted in the breakup of what was left of Yugoslavia completely. The proper course of action would have been for the Yugoslav judicial system to deal with Milosevic, as his alleged crimes were committed totally on Yugoslav territory, thus not being the business of any outsiders.

US WAR CRIMES GO UNPUNISHED

The bias of the UN and the lack of power of the International Court of Justice and the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague was highlighted after the USA and Britain, led by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, illegally invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003. Because this invasion and occupation was launched on the basis of clearly and deliberately fabricated lies that were known to Bush and Blair, according to most international lawyers, these two leaders should have been indicted to face charges before the War Crimes Tribunal. However, neither has been charged. The hypocrisy of the USA is blatantly evident, because although the USA engineered the delivery of Slobodan Milosevic to the War Crimes Tribunal, the USA refuses to accept that the War Crimes Tribunal has any power over American people, including President George W Bush, who was responsible for a clearly illegal war on Iraq.

GUARDING SOVEREIGNTY

Every nation should guard its sovereignty jealously. Jurisdiction is an integral part of nationality and no other nation should be permitted to extradite or prosecute any person or organisation unless that nation has total jurisdiction over the territory where the crimes were committed. Having this in mind, the International Court of Justice and the War Crimes Tribunal must be fully empowered to indict and punish war criminals from any nation, including those nations such as the USA that refuse to allow these tribunals to administer justice except on their terms.