Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lockerbie: Truth, Realpolitik and the future of International Law

I have been doing some reading, Stephen King says that the spark of a writer is innate, the most important thing an aspiring writer must do is read a lot and write a lot. Yes! I have been doing some reading and now I come to share.

The political fallout and international debate surrounding the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi seems to be centred on the possibility of "under the table" deals between the United Kingdom and Libya as well the morality of releasing a convicted mass murderer from prison. Most in the west, not least of who are the families of the victims of that heinous act, believe that Megrahi's release was an injustice, a view that is shared by many around the world. Having tried to read as much information as there is available in the public domain concerning the trial, conviction and subsequent appeals, I have come to the conclusion that the furore concerning this man is aimed at keeping us in the dark as regards the truth surrounding this case.

The media, especially in the west, has chosen to highlight Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds as a possible outcome of trade negotiations with Libya, downplaying the circumstances surrounding his appeal. I have already stated my views concerning his release but what I have discovered is far more important than the question of financial deals and moral significance. At the heart of matter is a test of the independence of judicial proceedings in the international political arena. To quote the one person at the trial of whose independence we can be assured, simply because he was the representative of the people, the UN international observer, Dr Hans Köchler,

"Whether those in public office like it or not, the Lockerbie trial has become a test case for the criminal justice system of Scotland. At the same time, it has become an exemplary case on a global scale that its handling will demonstrate whether a domestic system of criminal justice can resist

the dictates of international power politics or simply becomes dysfunctional as soon as "supreme state interests" interfere with the imperatives of justice. Fairness of judicial proceedings is undoubtedly a supreme and permanent public interest. If the rule of law is to be upheld, the requirements of the administration of justice may have to take precedence over public interests of a secondary order, such as a state's momentary foreign policy considerations or commercial and trade interests. The internal stability and international legitimacy of a polity in the long term depend on whether it is able to ensure the supremacy of the law over considerations of power and convenience. Contrary to what skeptics and the advocates of the supremacy of realpolitik try to make us believe, the basic maxim of the rule of law is not fiat justitia, pereat mundus but fiat justitia ne pereat mundus –'let justice prevail so that the world does not perish."


It would be folly of us if we did not right this wrong; we who wish to teach the world that there can be a lasting peace among us should not be party to such acts as denying an accused person the right to examine evidence brought forth against his or her person. Why is it that our leaders will not comment on these matters of great import? All they can say of the matter is that this man's release is "highly objectionable!"

Dr Hans Köchler's article in the National Law School of India Review appropriately titled "The Lockerbie Trial and the Rule of Law" should be brought to the forefront of the matter, discussed and addressed. Let us make peace with each other, let us be truly compassionate and then perhaps this tragedy will have served to teach us something, to make us better people.

I'm off to read about the Middle East, Uganda, Afghanistan, Rwanda, America, Japan and of places here and there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Question - Do you think Adelbaset is remorseful about what happened and if he isn't do you still hold the same views? And if he is not remorseful do you think that the world showing him compassion could change him? Fiona