For Immediate Release: January 2, 2007
Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but his execution was the culmination of a legal process that failed on many levels, including a trial marred by numerous irregularities.
But even if Saddam had been tried under the highest international standards of fairness and transparency, his execution now eliminates the possibility of bringing him to account for his many other crimes against humanity, including the notorious Anfal campaign in 1998.
Sixty years of international experience, beginning with the Nuremberg trials, has shown the importance of legal accountability as a key element in the reconstruction of societies emerging from dictatorship, repression and armed conflict. Trials of those responsible for crimes against humanity and other grave human rights crimes can help to stop cycles of violence motivated by revenge and retribution, and they can help lay a foundation for the return of the rule of law in countries recovering from periods of brutal, violent use of force. They can also increase the effectiveness of other international efforts to end conflicts, and help deter future crimes.
By closing the book now on Saddam’s personal involvement in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the high tribunal has thrown out a key tool in the process of reconciliation in Iraq.