War Crime Hypocrisy

December 29, 2010

Related to Serbia’s EU association process nearly every progress report of European Commission highlights Serbia’s cooperation with Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Although the country has demonstrated its commitment to moving closer to the EU by building up a track record in implementing the provisions of the Interim Agreement with the EU and by undertaking key reforms the fact that so far as indictees Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić are still at large it is hard to demonstrate full cooperation with ICTY. As ICTY cooperation is a key priority of the European Partnership this makes a formal cause to halt association process (and if fugitives will be deported to Hague then the next obstacle will be recognition of Kosovo).


While EU speaks about standards or criteria during association talks so should some already members look occasionally mirror. Few news about older war crimes from last months popped to my eyes and raise a doubt in my mind about double-standards. Suspected hypocrisy does not limit to EU only but to U.S. and Nato as well. EU seems be unwilling to put their war crimes from recent history on the same line than other smaller players ones.

Following some older and newer cases for consideration.

USA/Serbia
Serbia has requested the extradition of an American citizen accused of committing genocide and other crimes as a Nazi officer during World War II. Mr. Peter Egner, 86 lives now in a retirement community outside of Seattle, Washington. Egner, a Yugoslavia native, is accused of joining in April 1941 the Nazi-controlled Security Police and Security Service in German-occupied Belgrade, a Nazi mobile killing unit that participated in the mass murder of more than 17,000 Serbian civilians during World War II. Egner came to the United States in 1960 and became a citizen six years later.

Egner has admitted volunteering to serve in the Security Police and Security Service as well as guarding prisoners as they were being transferred to concentration camps. He also admitted to serving as an interpreter during interrogations of political prisoners, which sometimes involved severe torture. Prisoners often were executed following their interrogations. Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor has said that he wants to try Egner in Serbia. (Source: Jpost )

Germany/Holland

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Germany to extradite Dutch former SS executioner Klaas Faber, in a statement released on Thursday. Center’s third Most-Wanted Nazi War Criminal, Klaas Faber, 88, received life sentence in Holland, before escaping to Germany in 1952. The Netherlands released recently an arrest warrant for Faber, 88. In September, Germany’s Justice Ministry said it is looking into the possibility of jailing Faber more than 60 years after his conviction. The Dutch government requested that Faber be extradited several times, so that he could serve his sentence, which had been commuted to life in prison.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter said: “Germany’s failure hereto to put Faber on trial or return him to Holland are a travesty which must be corrected as quickly as possible, while justice can still be achieved.” (Source: Jpost/Wiesenthal Center calls for SS executioner’s extradition )

Still Hilfe, or Silent Aid, an organization which provides help for Third Reich fugitives of justice, is funding the defense of Klass Faber. Stille Hilfe is known for helping Nazi fugitives Klaus Barbie and Erich Priebke evade justice as well as facilitating the escape of Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele to South America. The German Social Democratic party has called for a probe into the organization’s charitable status, but thus far, Berlin has taken no action against Stille Hilfe. (Source: Jpost/Himmler’s daughter member of Nazi fugitive aid group)

Germany

A court in Germany says the world’s third most-wanted Nazi suspect has died before he could be brought to trial. Bonn’s state court said in a statement Monday that 89- year-old Samuel Kunz died November 18. Kunz was indicted on charges he was involved in the entire process of killing Jews at the Belzec death camp: from taking victims from trains to pushing them into gas chambers to throwing corpses into mass graves. The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement in response to the news. where Efraim Zuroff, the center’s director in Israel, said it was “incredibly frustrating” that Kunz died before trial. “The fact that Samuel Kunz lived in Germany unprosecuted for so many decades is the result of a flawed prosecution policy which ignored virtually any Holocaust perpetrator who was not an officer. It was only the recent, long-awaited change in this policy which led to Kunz’s indictment and the opportunity to hold him accountable for his crimes. (Source JPost )

Vatican?

As time goes its harder to get old WWII fugitives to trial. However while individual persons are dying some executive organizations related to war crimes still are healthy – one of these is Vatican.

I have in my mind especially Vatican’s role in holocaust and preserving war criminals from justice. These issues are dealt in my earlier article “Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican” but the crucial questions were following:

During WWII Croatia’s Ustashe leaders declared that they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. 3rdbiggest extermination center – behind Auschwitz and Treblinka – created by Nazis was Jasenovac in Croatia. The death toll is estimated to be 300,000 to 700,000, some 80 % of them Serbs the rest Jews and Romas. While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The religious motivation may be the explanation to the extreme brutality of butchers in Jasenovac. 743 Roman Catholic priests personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovacwas for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest. The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

As the war ended, the Vatican Bank helped to and transfer funds Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle and launder the Ustasha Tresury, which was looted from victims of Jasenovac. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped Ustasha war criminals in escaping justicein what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”.

Today a class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims. In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.

U.S & Nato

Besides Vatican also Nato and U.S. has continuously escaped from justice or international court about its war crimes in Balkan wars – especially in case of Nato’s attack on Serbia 1999 – as well its activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other clandestine operations around the world. Bombing civilian targets, using cluster and DU (depleted uranium) bombs can be seen as war crimes or at least violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions in particular. (More e.g. in ”10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia” ). Nato planes destroyed 4 % of its military targets during bombing – partly because for avoiding own casualties they launched missiles so high that could not make difference between wooden decoys and real weapons. Instead of military targets the main damage was made against civilian targets such as destroying an embassy (China), a prison (Istok), three column of Albanian refugees (81 dead March 13th and 75 April 14th), radio-tv station (Belgrade, 16 civilians dead), a passenger train (Grdelica bridge, 14 dead), also a number of infrastructure, commercial buildings, schools, health institutions, cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed. Some 2.500 people (mostly civilians) were dead, material civil infrastructure damage is estimated to be some 30 billion dollars.

Serbia has tried to put Nato already to International Court for war crimes during bombing 1999. And of course without success since big or important enough players don’t give a s…t about Hague and like U.S have already sealed an impunity with bilateral agreements in mission regions. More about these Nato’s war crimes during its attack on Serbia e.g. here.

Bottom line

If EU would like to act in line with its high-flown ideals it should stand straight-backed behind international court principles so that no country could be immune its rulings. And if some countries like U.S. look themselves to be above international law appropriate measures – such as sanctions – should be taken against it. And this probably is total utopia. Despite this one should not forget old war crimes especially when neo-Nazism and xenophobia gains ground even among today’s EU (e.g. Hungary) members as well candidate (e.g. Croatia) countries.

I don’t put very much weight to ICTY rulings but however from my point of view the procedure itself brings more facts about events on the table, especially when both the prosecutor and defence have made their case. At best this can make easier to bring justice also to lower level.

Some other aspects about war crimes can be found from my articles:


UN is sending Kosovo case to ICJ

October 9, 2008

The UN General Assembly is backing Serbia’s draft to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the legality of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. October 8th UNGA, by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution drafted by Serbia.

The resolution
In initiating the resolution, Serbia had responded to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February with “maximal restraint”, said Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic, as he introduced the text. The resolution was asking the 192-member Assembly to convey its request to the Court–the United Nations’ highest judicial body–for an advisory opinion, in line with its powers under the Organization’s Charter. Sending the question to the Court “would prevent the Kosovo crisis from serving as a deeply problematic precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions are harboured”, he explained. An advisory opinion would provide politically neutral and judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating how to approach such unilateral declarations. “Support of this resolution would reaffirm a fundamental principal: the right of any Member State […] to pose a simple, basic question–on a matter it considers vitally important, to the international court,” he said, adding that a vote against the text would deny the right of any country–-now or in the future-–to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system. “The question posed is amply clear and refrains from taking political positions on the Kosovo issue.”

The vote
With that, the draft received support from a geographic mix of countries, including Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean and the Middle East, with delegates backing the measure out of respect for international law, the United Nations Charter, States’ right to request an advisory opinion-–particularly on sovereignty matters-–and the Court’s position as the appropriate judicial body for ruling on such highly complex matters. Algeria’s representative also underscored that the draft contained no political or controversial elements.

Six country voted against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), 77 favoured the draft and 74 countries abstained. The European Union member countries did not have a united stand on the issue, with Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Romania voted in favour, while the rest abstained.

The conclusions
My conclusions about the vote, procedure and discussions in UN General Assembly are following:

  • The Spanish representative really hit the nail on the head when he said that “his government considered the respect of international law was a principle which must be applied to all fields of international relations”. He added that “it at the same time highlights the importance of the functioning of the UN institutions”. So the big question is to restore some authority of UN as the main forum of international relations and to recognise ICJ’s role as highest judicial body of UN.
  • The US vote against resolution was not surprise. USA has always during modern times been against International Court forbidding e.g. hearings of its war crimes there. USA has also frequently broke international law and underestimated UN/UNSC when needed for own tactical reasons.
  • The European Union showed again that its speech about common ESDP, foreign policy etc.are fairy tales useful only for statements and real politic is something else. Those EU member states who have not made Kosovo recognition were also in this UN vote favour to ask ICJ ruling.
  • The amount of abstained votes shows that in principle ICJ is respected because many countries were afraid how to act if ICJ rules their hesitated actions (recognition of Kosovo independence) wrong.
  • The timing of this resolution is right. Even all those who supported Kosovo independence said that Kosovo was unique case and not precedent thousands of ethnical or separatist movements around the world made other conclusion – Kosovo really opened the “Pandora box”. To limit the degree of damage it is time to restore international forums and law.

Source of UNGA meeting and vote: UN News Service/GA/10764/8th October 2008

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UN is sending Kosovo case to ICJ

October 9, 2008

The UN General Assembly is backing Serbia’s draft to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the legality of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. October 8th UNGA, by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution drafted by Serbia.

The resolution
In initiating the resolution, Serbia had responded to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February with “maximal restraint”, said Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic, as he introduced the text. The resolution was asking the 192-member Assembly to convey its request to the Court–the United Nations’ highest judicial body–for an advisory opinion, in line with its powers under the Organization’s Charter. Sending the question to the Court “would prevent the Kosovo crisis from serving as a deeply problematic precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions are harboured”, he explained. An advisory opinion would provide politically neutral and judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating how to approach such unilateral declarations. “Support of this resolution would reaffirm a fundamental principal: the right of any Member State […] to pose a simple, basic question–on a matter it considers vitally important, to the international court,” he said, adding that a vote against the text would deny the right of any country–-now or in the future-–to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system. “The question posed is amply clear and refrains from taking political positions on the Kosovo issue.”

The vote
With that, the draft received support from a geographic mix of countries, including Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean and the Middle East, with delegates backing the measure out of respect for international law, the United Nations Charter, States’ right to request an advisory opinion-–particularly on sovereignty matters-–and the Court’s position as the appropriate judicial body for ruling on such highly complex matters. Algeria’s representative also underscored that the draft contained no political or controversial elements.

Six country voted against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), 77 favoured the draft and 74 countries abstained. The European Union member countries did not have a united stand on the issue, with Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Romania voted in favour, while the rest abstained.

The conclusions
My conclusions about the vote, procedure and discussions in UN General Assembly are following:

  • The Spanish representative really hit the nail on the head when he said that “his government considered the respect of international law was a principle which must be applied to all fields of international relations”. He added that “it at the same time highlights the importance of the functioning of the UN institutions”. So the big question is to restore some authority of UN as the main forum of international relations and to recognise ICJ’s role as highest judicial body of UN.
  • The US vote against resolution was not surprise. USA has always during modern times been against International Court forbidding e.g. hearings of its war crimes there. USA has also frequently broke international law and underestimated UN/UNSC when needed for own tactical reasons.
  • The European Union showed again that its speech about common ESDP, foreign policy etc.are fairy tales useful only for statements and real politic is something else. Those EU member states who have not made Kosovo recognition were also in this UN vote favour to ask ICJ ruling.
  • The amount of abstained votes shows that in principle ICJ is respected because many countries were afraid how to act if ICJ rules their hesitated actions (recognition of Kosovo independence) wrong.
  • The timing of this resolution is right. Even all those who supported Kosovo independence said that Kosovo was unique case and not precedent thousands of ethnical or separatist movements around the world made other conclusion – Kosovo really opened the “Pandora box”. To limit the degree of damage it is time to restore international forums and law.

Source of UNGA meeting and vote: UN News Service/GA/10764/8th October 2008

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Kosovo’s independence in question

September 25, 2008

September 25th I saw three headlines in international press regarding the independence question of Kosovo province.

  • The most important forum now going on is the UN General Assembly where Serbia’s initiative to ask the International Court of Justice its opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence is now under discussion. An ICJ advisory opinion would provide politically neutral, yet judicially authoritative guidance, to many countries still deliberating on how to approach Kosovo’s UDI in line with international law. Like predicted before Kosovo UDI has already motivated separatist movements in South America, Caucasus an Asia and forecast is more to come.

 

  • Second news came from Swiss government which has informed Kosovo that its newly appointed representative Mr Naim Mala is not preferred” as Kosovo’s charge d’affaires in Bern. Mala was among the first ten diplomatic envoys appointed by President Fatmir Sejdiu to mainly Western capitals that recognized Kosovo’s independence from Serbia after it was unilaterally proclaimed in February. Mala was politically engaged among Kosovo’s Albanian diaspora in Switzerland where he was in exile during the 1998-1999 conflict between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Serbian armed forces. According to Kosovo media reports, his diplomatic appointment was refused by Bern because he had a police record in Switzerland.
  • Third news came from Poland, where Poland’s President has reversed decision to open an embassy in Kosovo and establish diplomatic relations at an ambassadorial level between the two.  “I have my own competences to declare that I am not signing off the Polish ambassador in Kosovo,” Polish President, Lech Kaczynski said in New York. The Polish Government recognised Kosovo on February 26 2008, just days after the declaration of Kosovo’s independence from but Kaczynski opposed the government’s move. He asserted never to have hidden the fact that “the government move was a mistake.”

 

Already earlier on May 2008 President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus is ‘ashamed’ of the decision of the right-centrist government to acknowledge the independence of Kosovo.

Today some 25 % of UN member-states has recognized Kosovo independence and 75 % not. As now seen also among those who made recognition some have internal dialogue if the decision was hesitated and if stabilisation of Balkans could have better possibilities after new talks and possible agreement between Belgrad and Pristina.



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OSCE report fault Georgia – one trivial statement more from EU summit

September 2, 2008

Europe’s leading human rights and security body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accused the Georgian government of committing likely war crimes in the Georgian rebel region of South Ossetia, Der Spiegel said in a report published on Monday 1st September 2008. The Vienna-based OSCE massively criticized Georgia’s western- backed leadership for its assault on South Ossetia, saying Tbilisi planned the invasion well in advance.

According OSCE report by Spiegel there is at least four interesting facts which mainstream Western media now must swallow:

  • First, the article presents evidence showing how Georgia prepared military actions against South Ossetia before the event transpired,
  • Second, it demonstrates how Georgia attacked South Ossetia before Russian tanks even entered the Roki tunnel,
  • Third, the article includes testimonies from observers who say Tbilisi ordered an attack on South Ossetia at night while innocent civilians were sleeping,
  • Forth Spiegel writes that reports by OSCE observers point to possible military crimes, committed by Georgian troops in South Ossetia.

Same time when Spiegel published it’s cover story the EU’s Brussels summit agreed to condemn Russia’s “inappropriate response” and declared Russia’s recognition of the dissident regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was “contrary to international law”. The EU summit also stated that any solution to the conflict must “rest on respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity—and not on unilateral facts, which contradict international law”.

These remarks of EU summit are sounding a bit familiar to me. Exactly – the words above are almost same which Russia was using about Kosovo case. Then EU and USA were talking something about “absolutely unique – sui generis – case”, which is no precedent. What a double standards and hypocrisy I must say.


 caucasus

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