For immediate distribution
Date: 7 February 2010
STATEMENT ON THE CLOSURE
OF THE LEGAL CASE FOR IRAQ IN SPAIN
FILED AGAINST FOUR US PRESIDENTS
AND FOUR UK PRIME MINISTERS
FOR WAR CRIMES, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
AND GENOCIDE IN IRAQ
MADRID/CAIRO: Public enquiries on the decision to wage war on Iraq that are silent about the crimes committed, the victims involved, and provide for no sanction, whatever their outcome, are not enough. Illegal acts should entail consequences: the dead and the harmed deserve justice.
On 6 October 2009, working with and on behalf of Iraqi plaintiffs, we filed a case before Spanish law against four US presidents and four UK prime ministers for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. The case presented spanned 19 years, including not only the wholesale destruction of Iraq witnessed from 2003, but also the sanctions period during which 1.5 million excess Iraqi deaths were recorded.
All humanity knows the crimes committed in Iraq by those we accused, but no jurisdiction is bringing them to justice. We presented with Iraqi victims a solid case drawing on evidence contained in over 900 documents and that refer to thousands of individual incidents from which a pattern of accumulated harm and intent can be discerned We brought the case to Spain because its laws of universal jurisdiction are based on principles enshrined in its constitution. All humanity knows the crimes committed in Iraq by those we accused, but no jurisdiction is bringing them to justice. We presented with Iraqi victims a solid case drawing on evidence contained in over 900 documents and that refer to thousands of individual incidents from which a pattern of accumulated harm and intent can be discerned.
When we brought our case, we knew that the Spanish Senate would soon vote on an amendment earlier passed by the lower house of parliament to curtail the application of universal jurisdiction in Spain. We were conscious that this restriction could be retroactive, and we took account of the content of the proposed amendment in our case filing. As we imagined, 2009 turned out to be a sad year for upholding universal human rights and international law in Spain. One day after we filed, the law was curtailed, and soon thereafter our case closed. Serious cases of the kind universal jurisdiction exists to address became more difficult to investigate.
One more jurisdiction to fall
Despite submitting a 110-page long referenced accusation (the Introduction of which is appended to this statement), the Spanish public prosecutor and the judge assigned to our case determined there was no reason to investigate. Their arguments were erroneous and could easily have been refuted if we could have appealed. To do so we needed a professional Spanish lawyer — either in a paid capacity or as a volunteer who wished to help the Iraqi people in its struggle for justice. As we had limited means, and for other reasons mostly concerning internal Spanish affairs, which were not our concern, we could not secure a lawyer in either capacity to appeal. Our motion for more time to find a lawyer was rejected.
Western states used universal jurisdiction in the past to judge Third World countries. When victims in the global South began using it to judge Israel and US aggression, Western countries rushed to restrict it We continue to believe that the violent killing of over one million people in Iraq since 2003 alone, the ongoing US occupation — that carries direct legal responsibility — and the displacement of up to a fifth of the Iraqi population from the terror that occupation has entailed and incited suggests strongly that the claims we put forward ought to be further investigated.
In reality, our case is a paramount example of those that authorities in the West — Spain included — fear. To them, such cases represent the double edge of sustaining the principle of universal jurisdiction. Western states used universal jurisdiction in the past to judge Third World countries. When victims in the global South began using it to judge Israel and US aggression, Western countries rushed to restrict it. Abandoning universal jurisdiction by diluting it is now the general tendency.
Call for wider collective effort to prosecute
We regret that the Spanish courts refused to investigate our case, but this will not discourage us. We have a just cause. The crimes are evident. The responsible are well known, even if the international juridical system continues to ignore Iraqi victims. Justice for victims and the wish of all humanity that war criminals should be punished oblige us to search for alternative legal possibilities, so that the crimes committed in Iraq can be investigatedand accountability established.At present, failed international justice allows US and UK war criminals to stand above international law. This constitutes an attack — or makes possible future attacks — on the human rights of everyone, everywhere At present, failed international justice allows US and UK war criminals to stand above international law. Understanding that this constitutes an attack — or makes possible future attacks — on the human rights of everyone, everywhere, we will continue to advocate the use of all possible avenues, including UN institutions, the International Criminal Court, and popular tribunals, to highlight and bring before law and moral and public opinion US and UK crimes in Iraq.
We are ready to make our experience and expertise available to those who struggle in the same direction. We look forward to a time when the countries of the global South, which are generally victims of aggression, reinforce their juridical systems by implementing the principle of universal jurisdiction. This will be a great service to humanity and international law.
Millions of people in Iraq have been killed, displaced, terrorised, detained, tortured or impoverished under the hammer of US and UK military, economic, political, ideological and cultural attacks. The very fabric and being of the country has been subject to intentional destruction. This destruction constitutes one of the gravest international crimes ever committed. All humanity should unite in refusing that law — by failing to assure justice for Iraqi victims — enables this destruction to be the opening precedent of the 21st century.
Ad Hoc Committee For Justice For Iraq
See the full Introduction to the case here.
Dr Ian Douglas
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal, coordinator, International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq +20 12 167 1660 (English) [email protected]
Hana Al Bayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal
+20 10 027 7964 (English and French) [email protected]
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Arabic) [email protected]
Advisory Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Spanish) [email protected]
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Dutch) [email protected]