Archives For War on Terror

by Nicolas Boeglin
Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)

A collective open letter signed by a great number of professors of international law and researchers entitled « A plea against the abusive invocation of self-defence as a response to terrorism » has been circulating on the web for the last few weeks. Continue Reading…

British Prime Minister David Cameron is attempting to persuade the UK parliament to support an extension of UK air strikes, ostensibly aimed at “degrading” ISIS, from Iraq to Syria. However, his argument that the action would have a clear legal basis is, despite the progressive undermining of international law by UK and US governments, denied by leading legal scholars. Continue Reading…

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine “black sites” using torture techniques. Continue Reading…

President Obama said of the children of Newtown, tearfully, that they “had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” Continue Reading…

The admission today by the White House that their initial statements regarding the details of Bin Laden’s killing were fabrications are important for human rights investigators to bear in mind.

The White House has admitted that the claims (made mainly by chief US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan) were fabrications, specifically:

1) The claim that Bin Laden was armed and firing an AK47 was false – he was unarmed
2) The claim his wife was used as a human shield is false
3) The claim his wife is dead is false – she is still alive, although shot in the leg

The new statement comes from Mr Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney.

In the face of these falsehoods at the highest level, it is essential for human rights organisations to really examine carefully the propaganda they have been fed by the US government at every level and particularly in relation to US wars and undercover operations.

It is important to remember that John Brennan plays a very major role in the US administration – he is titular head of US undercover operations and a key adviser to President Obama.

The statement of Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the US should make public the “precise facts surrounding his killing” is welcome.

Islamic Rules on Burial of the Dead according to Sea Services include:

It is obligatory to bury a dead body in the ground, so deep that its smell does not come out and the beasts of prey do not dig it out, and, if there is a danger of such beasts digging it out then the grave should be made solid with bricks, etc.

If it is not possible to bury a dead body in the ground, it may be kept in a vault or a coffin, instead.

If a person dies on a ship and if there is no fear of the decay of the dead body and if there is no problem in retaining it for sometime on the ship, it should be kept on it and buried in the ground after reaching the land. Otherwise, after giving Ghusl, Hunut, Kafan and Namaz-e-Mayyit it should be lowered into the sea in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its feet. And as far as possible it should not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by the sea predators.

Reportedly the wives and children are under arrest in Pakistan and Bin Laden’s body was flown to Afghanistan and then flown from there out to sea and buried in an Islamic ceremony (perhaps from a naval warship), in order to prevent Bin Laden’s burial place from becoming a shrine. 

The laws of war on procedures to be followed for enemy dead state:

Rule 114. Parties to the conflict must endeavour to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased upon request of the party to which they belong or upon the request of their next of kin. They must return their personal effects to them. [IAC]

Rule 115. The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained. [IAC/NIAC]

Obviously the rules are there to ensure that families can mourn their dead according to their customs and beliefs – even when the person who dies is a despicable enemy.

So this particular situation should not set any kind of precedent and all parties to every conflict should show respect for the dead and their families, in the interests of humanity as a whole.

Osama Bin Laden and the radical islamic movement of which he was a part were trained and funded by intelligence forces of the US, as a way of undermining the Soviet Union for geo-strategic reasons and because that is the kind of thing intelligence services do. That is a matter of record.

Subsequently, Osama Bin Laden fell out with the his earlier mentors and launched attacks against western targets which killed and injured large numbers of civilians. That these attacks were purportedly in response to attacks on Moslem countries or to defend Moslem nations is, of course, no excuse.

Unfortunately, these attacks were used as excuses to launch wars of aggression and as justification by many governments, political forces and military organisations to attack human rights and to try to redefine them in their own interests.

The death of Bin Laden provides an appropriate occasion to condemn his crimes against human rights and pay respects to his innocent victims.

It is also an occasion for us to renew our faith in human rights and the creation of a better world with mutual respect between religions, tolerance and peace between nations.

The current events around the world, and particularly the success of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia are testament to the efficacy of non-violent struggle and to the building of solidarity between people and the ineffectiveness of terrorism and war in building a better world.

Of course, the messages which leaders give out now over the next few days will be good indications of the key messages they are trying to put across, and unfortunately, strengthening human rights, the folly of proxy wars and violence, the winding down of the War on Terror or actual repect for the rights of muslims are unlikely to be among them.