Talk:Belgium indicts former Chad dictator accused of humanitarian crimes

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Some NPOV issues with this story.


Rights groups are hailing the indictment in Belgium of Hissène Habré, former dictator of Chad.
  • The terms "hail" or "praise" should be avoided at any cost.


In theory, every state has the right, under international law, to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, wherever those crimes were committed.
  • "In theory" is irrelevant, as many countries don't follow the International Law.


The scope of the Belgian law was restricted recently, after a series of highly-controversial attempts to bring cases against serving world leaders, including the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
  • "Scope of..." sounds like it is making a statement.

Just a few minor fixes, leave a note on my talk page when these have been fixed. --Mrmiscellanious 10:42, 30 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikinews is a collaborative project so please feel free to make any changes that you feel are needed.

I don't personally have any problem with "hail" or "praise", so long as it's clear that we're merely stating that rights groups are hailing/praising, rather than doing the hailing or praising ourselves! But by all means change the title if you would like to.

The use of "in theory"/"in practice" is a stylistic contrast but I think it helps to spell out the legal situation clearly - eg. in theory any state can do the universal jurisdiction thang, in practice very few do.

Here's what I meant by the "scope" issue: For a limited time (eg. during the time the case against Habré was originally brought), Belgian law allowed anyone in the world to initiate a case against any individual they believed responsible for war crimes/genocide/crimes against humanity (there's almost certainly an outline of the specific legal meanings of these terms on wikipedia), regardless of when or where those alleged crimes had taken place. Neither did the alleged perpetrator need to be in Belgium. This quickly led to a deluge of attempted cases, some of which were clearly frivolous or politically motivated etc. A great deal of controversy was generated and the system, which had originally been thought of up to help bring justice for extreme crimes like the Rwandan genocide (many genocidaires had fled to Belgium claiming to be refugees) quickly became unmanageable. So the law was amended to reduce its scope. From now on there had to be some kind of "Belgian connection" ie. a Belgian citizen had to have been directly affected and/or the alleged perpetrator has to be on Belgian territory for the charges to proceed. But they let the Habré case continue, because it had been initiated before the scope amendments were made. I'll edit the last paragraph to try and make this more explicit.

On a wider level this story strikes me as interesting and important because it raises questions about the nature and applicability of the international rule of law - eg: should there be international intervention when a national government seems unwilling/unable to prosecute someone like Habré? If so, what form should such intervention take? If the UN is unwilling/unable to intervene should other governments step in, or "mind their own business"? Does the Belgian model inevitably lead to a double-standard, and does that matter? It's quite an interesting and wide-ranging debate - see Kissinger in this article:[1], together with the Amnesty paper I referenced in the piece. Some reference to this wider debate might add an extra dimension to the article if anyone out there has the time and talent to weave it in! Rcameronw 13:16, 30 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All hail! (addendum)[edit]

I really don't think we have a "hailing" problem. A quick google search reveals a wealth of mainstream news articles with rights groups hailing all sorts of things, eg. this CNN piece on Pinochet: [2], and this one from IRIN on honour killings [3]

Rcameronw 13:34, 30 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yikes how long has that title been there[edit]

I'm new to wikinews, but I'm going to figure out how to change the title of that piece right now!