War crimes tribunal credibility


This letter appeared in the Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) on 16 June 1999.

This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Letter to the Editor: War crimes tribunal credibility, Baton Rouge Advocate, June 16, 1999, at 8B.

Copyright © 1999, M. R. Franks

Dear Editor:

If the International Criminal Tribunal established by the United Nations is to have any credibility, it must be perceived to be absolutely neutral and impartial. It can demonstrate its impartiality and credibility only by giving full hearing to all allegations of war crimes committed by NATO leaders, allowing Messrs. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair their day in court to defend against charges that they, like Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, caused great suffering and serious injuries, extensive damage to property unjustified by military necessity, employment of weapons causing unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, damage to or destruction of religious, charitable and educational institutions, and destruction of historic monuments.

Thus far, three formal "complaints and requests for investigation and indictment" have been filed with the court -- the first filed by a Greek lawyer and supported by the signatures of a thousand Greek citizens. A second, aimed at Tony Blair, prime minister of Great Britain, was filed by an English lawyer. The third was filed by a team of Canadian lawyers and professors.

Public respect for the war crimes tribunal will wither if those charges are not given the same full hearing as is being given to the charges filed against Slobodan Milosevic, with of course the same full opportunity for the defendants to defend.

M. R. Franks, associate professor of law
Southern University
2 Swan St.
Baton Rouge

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