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

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.

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