Human rights, the rule of law and the death of Gadhafi

by Aaron Wherry

A statement from the Prime Minister on the liberation of Libya.

“Today, Canadians join with the Libyan people in celebrating the liberation of their country. The Libyan people have courageously risen up against decades of tyranny. Canada’s involvement, as sanctioned by the United Nations and led by NATO, has supported their aspirations for the future. We join Libyans in welcoming the post-Gaddafi era and the transition of the country to a democratic society – one that respects human rights and the rule of law.

“We again commend the work of members of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force and the leadership of Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard. Their efforts have led to the success of NATO’s mission in Libya. NATO has taken a preliminary decision to conclude the mission at the end of October. Canada will continue to work with transitional leaders as the new Libya takes shape.”

Speaking of human rights and the rule of law, Liberal MP John McKay questioned Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Friday about the demise of Moammar Gadhadi.

Mr. Speaker, while some might celebrate the death of Mr. Gadhafi, the means of his death is deeply troubling. It is equally troubling to those of us who support the rule of law and the legitimate aspirations of the people of Libya for freedom. I wonder whether the minister is equally concerned about this revenge killing as it will perpetuate a cycle of violence. 

Mr. Baird was fairly dismissive in response.

Mr. Speaker, my first thoughts are with the Libyan people, not with their former dictator.

Speaking with reporters afterwards, Mr. McKay lamented that response.

I would have said, of course we’re on the side of the people, but we also are concerned that there was an opportunity here to actually capture Mr. Gadhafi on what evidence we know and to adhere to the rule of law, to give him a trial and whatever the sentence was going to be was going to be the sentence. That would have been, how shall we say, an appropriate statement from a minister of Foreign Affairs. Bear in mind, he’s not John Baird. He’s John Baird, the minister of Foreign Affairs and he speaks with a voice into the world on behalf of Canada and if he doesn’t take an opportunity like this to assert that kind of issue, then I think it’s a missed opportunity.

The UN human rights commissioner has called for an investigation and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged support for an investigation today. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says the new Libyan’s government has been “stained” by Gadhafi’s death.

The latest video of his capture shows a chaotic scene. Christopher Hitchens says it was a mistake to kill the dictator.

And so the new Libya begins, but it begins with a squalid lynching. News correspondents have been quite warm and vocal lately, about the general forbearance shown by the rebels to the persons and property of the Qaddafi loyalists. That makes it even more regrettable that the principle could not be honored in its main instance. At the time of writing, Seif-al-Islam Qaddafi, one of Muammar’s sons, is said to be still at large. It will be quite a disgrace if he is also killed out of hand, or if at the very least the NTC and the international community do not remind their fighters that he needs to be taken into lawful custody.

Human rights, the rule of law and the death of Gadhafi

  1. Even the Nazis got a trial.

    However that was back when we actually believed in the rule of law.

    • Really? I must be living under a rock, because I’ve never heard what happened at Hitler’s trial.

      You might also note that it wasn’t Canadians or Americans who captured Gadhafi. It was Libyans. So you can accuse them of not believing in the rule of law, but it has nothing to do with us.

      • Yes, I guess you are if you’ve never heard of Nuremberg.

        NATO was supposed to be enforcing a no-fly zone, not helping to capture or kill Gadhafi, but it was an airstrike that brought the convoy to a halt.

        The west could have made it a condition of help….but instead made it clear we didn’t care.

        It is still a lynching even if your hands aren’t on the rope.

        • I’m not so sure those Nazis would have gotten trials if they’d been captured in the field by their victims.  I seem to remember Mussolini being summarily shot by Italian partisans and then hung upside down for all to see.

          It may not be the most moral act ever, but when brutal dictators are captured by the people they’ve been brutally oppressing for over forty years, sometimes those oppressed people take vengeance more seriously than judicial procedure in the heat of the moment.  We may not like it, but I think it’s pretty understandable.  I may want to believe that I’d have let the scumbag live to face trial, but that’s pretty easy for me to think living on this side of the Atlantic.  The man didn’t brutalize, imprison, torture or kill any members of my family, whereas I’d be willing to bet that every single  member of the group that captured him had lost friends and family to his regime.

          • Yes, Nazis were to be captured wherever possible…it was all discussed prior to the end of the war.

            I’m well aware of the ‘fog of war’ and the ‘heat of the moment’…but what they’ve done now is create a martyr.

          • LOL Yes Emily. I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure his remaining followers sincerely loved him and will continue to fight for his wonderful vision of Libya in his name. The people fighting along side him all this time weren’t lackeys who needed the regime to survive because they’ve been profiting by it all this time, they’re patriots who feel that the right way forward for Libya was killing anyone who wanted Gaddafi to be deposed.

            I’m not sure this counts as a “lynching by a new government” though. The commander of the troops who caught him was an electrical engineer from Misrata who plans to go back to his civilian life shortly. Gaddafi wasn’t exactly shot by the new Minister of Justice of the NTC, he was killed by a bunch of civilian rebels who took up arms against the regime when Gaddafi started indiscriminately attacking civilians with tanks and fighter jets. The “new government” found out Gaddafi had been found AFTER he was killed.

          • @Lord_Kitcheners_Own:disqus 

            LOL well you might want to wait till the dust settles before you start discounting his followers. Not everybody operates on Sesame St time you know. Cheesuz….who do you think was fighting alongside him all this time??

            No, you are missing MY point…the whole world’s point in fact.

            You either operate by the rule of law, or you don’t.

            That doesn’t allow for lynchings by a new govt.

          • Couldn’t agree more. Very astute comments, and well said, LKO.

            I have a few Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, & east-German friends, who all have first-hand accounts of the brutality of the communist/socialist governments of the time. They all have differing opinions on the appropriate punishments.

            For example, a Romanian colleague would have preferred that Ceaucescu (sp?) and his wife live in one of those small, cold concrete apartment units built by his government for the rest of his days, with no reliable running water or power, rather than be killed. She feels that would have been an appropriate punishment, to be forced to live as he forced others to live.

          • Agree.  But that makes it understandable, not okay.  And while I would hope that emotional response on the part of the Libyans would be taken into account–like manslaughter instead of murder–when forming a suitable sentence, you ought to start as you mean to continue.  And that does mean (I would hope!) obeying the rule of law.

          • Can’t disagree with any of that Jenn.  As you say, understandable, but not “OK” per se.  Then again, personally, I’m having almost as little trouble reconciling myself to the fact that Gadaffi was summarily executed by a shot to the head as I did with OBL being taken out in a similar fashion.  On the one hand, I prefer the surgical and immediate nature of OBL’s killing to the apparent beating that Gaddafi took first, but then again, the random bunch of rebels that happened upon Gaddafi’s convoy weren’t exactly SEAL Team Six, and I don’t think any members of SEAL Team Six had family members who were directly oppressed, tortured or murdered by OBL.

            So, intellectually, I agree that his execution was not ideal, morally speaking, but I’m having a heck of a time building up much outrage over it.

          • If you were in charge of critical operations in Sirte, especially respecting kill-or-capture operations, would you not put the seasoned, elite members of forces in charge of it?

            By the time of Sirte, the excuse of emotionally charged, undisciplined, untrained recruits does not hold up. The ‘what if it was your family’ card doesn’t play. None of this plays.

            NATO-billions have been spent liberating Libyans to a morally-compromised crew. I must strongly call on leaders and journalists not to drop this on the back-story, or the NTC’s claimed intention for an inquiry will be nothing more than more cover-up on what has already occurred.

          • If you were in charge of critical operations in Sirte, especially respecting kill-or-capture operations, would you not put the seasoned, elite members of forces in charge of it?

            Do we actually know that the troops that got to Gaddafi were sent after Gaddafi?  You characterize this as a “kill or capture” operation but I’d suggest to you that the troops involved were not on any sort of mission like that, they just happened to be the first troops to get to the convoy when the convoy was stopped.  This wasn’t some SEAL Team Six type operation of forces sent after Gadaffi the way bin Laden was taken out I don’t believe, more a case of a bunch of rebel troops realizing “Holy crap!  The convoy we just attacked was carrying Gadaffi!!!”. So, sure, if I were planning a mission to take out Gaddafi I’d use my most elite troops, but I’m not sure anyone had the slightest idea that Gaddafi was in that convoy until they got to it.

      • I’m sure the commenter meant “captured Nazi’s”. You are right about the Libyans being the ones that captured him so anything goes. 

  2. There is a double standard being played out here.  Where are the international investigations of President Obama for the assassination of bin Laden, and the hundreds if not thousands of other assassinations via drone attack?

    I

    • I agree…and this kind of moral shitpit is what you end up in when you go to war….at least these days.

      George Washington told his troops there was to be no torture of any prisoners,  and the Nazis got a trial…..and yet now torture and waterboarding are hunky-dory…and Gadhafi was basically lynched by a mob with our help.

      If we’re trying to spread democracy and civilization….this is the wrong way to go about it.

  3. Oh Libya is far, far, far fom democracy and freedom. They’ve got rid of the bad guy but they are plenty more.

    And to Liberal MP John Mckay REALLY!? Nice Answer John Baird!

    • Oh, well then why are we there sucking up to them?

      And why have we been doing business there all these years?

  4. So when are we going to actually see proof of what Gadhafi did as opposed to the propaganda that as been spewing from the MSM and the Siths that are running the Government?

    I’m all for holding people accountable but there just seems to be something not quit right about how all this played out especially when you consider the state of Lybia under Gadhafi:

    Free Education
    Free Healthcare
    Free farmland, house and seeds
    Free energy bills
    $50,000.00 free housing allowance for just married couples
    INTEREST FREE LOANS
    Debt free country
    Government pays for half of car purchases
    Near free gasoline
    etc.

    Is there proof of Human right abuses? Where are they?

    Add to this Gadhafi’s plan to introduce the Gold diner, a single African currency made from gold which would challenge the dollar in place now and one has to wonder if perhaps there were other motivations for the invasion by NATO. Would the western world and the corporation really want to see Africa rise up out of the state it is in now. Ask yourself who benefits the most from Africa being in the state it is now and would they want that to change?

    Now before you wingnuts start accusing me of being a crazy and wearing a tin-foil hat I just want to state that the only thing I am after is the Truth. If there are legitimate reasons for the NATO being involved there should be lot’s of proof and facts to back this up, not just words from some news anchor or some politician.

      • There was also the whole “sending tanks and fighter jest against civilian neighbourhoods” thing that actually got the the rebellion going in force.  After all, whatever one might think of the international intervention in Libya as a whole, the reason almost NO ONE opposed the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya was that Gaddafi was actively using his air force to bomb civilians.

      • Also, this and this.

        Not only was Libya a state sponsor of international terrorism, but Gaddafi personally bragged about it on multiple occasions.  And the International Criminal Court doesn’t issue arrest warrants for crimes against humanity against just anyone.

    • I would give you a hearing on this, and the NTC sounds like an appalling new beginning for Libya, except similar not-implausible arguments, and reasonable data, were proffered for almost every fascist in history.

      I’m in favour of all kinds of great ideas. At least I think they’re great. And they probably are great (so there!). But people have the right to decide on the ideas and idea-makers, however great. Libya needed true democratic freedom. But Gadaffi’s execution is a bad omen for the future.

    • Not to invoke Godwin’s Law, but this argument sounds an awful lot like a satirical T-Shirt I saw once that said “What about all of the GOOD things Hitler did?”

    • Now before you wingnuts start accusing me of being a crazy and wearing a tin-foil hat…

      Uh, aren’t you the guy that just suggested that the international community toppled Muammar Gaddafi because they feared an African Dinar that would challenge the dollar?  Fearing a currency that might challenge the dollar might be a reason to attack China, or maybe Europe, but LIBYA???  Sorry, sounds like crazy talk to me.

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