Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is Jail Best for Darfur Crimes?


It's certainly hard to feel bad about Sudan's Prez al-Bashir getting indicted by the International Criminal Court. There's no real doubt about his role in the horrendous assault on his own nation's citizens. If that isn't worth jail time, I can't imagine what is. Here's the take by my Washington Post colleagues: http://tinyurl.com/bkndvw.

To all this, I offer one reservation, best outlined in this story last year by Stephanie Nolen of Canada's Globe & Mail (http://tinyurl.com/baxltr), about how the international justice movement gets in the way of actually getting an evil despot out of power. Would Charles Taylor, the best example of international justice in Africa so far, have stepped down when he did if he knew he was eventually going to end up in jail, rather than in a bungalow in the Nigerian tourist town of Calabar? I see no easy resolution to this tension. It's clear that this stuff has been on Mugabe's mind, and those of his top advisers, as they have held on so tenaciously as Zim has gone from bad to worse to catastrophic to outright hellhole. I'd rather the old man spend the rest of his life in the Ritz Carlton if it meant Zimbabweans could begin their recovery free of his influence.

(For my take on the shortcomings of international justice in Sierra Leone, see http://tinyurl.com/accd7c).

What do you think? Is justice for one man, however evil, worth the possible price of slower political resolutions to Zimbabwe-type disasters?

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