April 26, 2007

Conscience is the Question at a Time of War

Writing in the Guardian, columnist Henry Porter says Western forces may have triggered the violence in Iraq, but that “the great majority of casualties are caused by Arabs killing Arabs.”

In particular, he condemned “the Muslim world” for silence over Islamist use of chlorine gas in civilian attacks, which turns to acid when contacting the skin, lungs, eyes, throat and nose.

Accountability is topic No. 1 in Canada as well, where critics called for the resignation of Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor after reports blamed Canadian troops for the torture of more than 30 Afghan prisoners.

O’Connor says he will investigate, but his detractors say that government awareness and acceptance of torture is equivalent to complicity in “war crimes,” the Canadian Broadcast Service reports.

At present there is no universally accepted court for trying war crimes.

In the European Union, home to the International Criminal Court, the Czech Republic is starting to feel the heat as the only member nation that hasn’t ratified the ICC charter.

In 2001, a Czech vote to back the ICC was soundly defeated, in part due to fears over eroding national sovereignty.

Advocates counter that the ICC only acts against war criminals when local courts don’t.

Sources:

“International court for war crimes gets snubbed by Czechs”
The Prague Post, April 18, 2007

“Latest Afghan abuse claims spark cries for O’Connor to resign”
Canadian Broadcast Service, April 23, 2007

“When will Islam damn the chlorine bombers?”
The Observer (U.K.), April 22, 2007

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