05:27 GMT +324 October 2017
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    Level Talk with John Harrison

    Eternal Immunity for Tony Blair?

    Level Talk with John Harrison
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    John Harrison
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    The case for the prosecution of previous UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has come up time and time again, but each time the prosecution’s case is turned down by the powers to be. This month, Tony Blair is once again in the firing line, however as guests in this program discuss, he is unlikely to ever be tried.

    Former Labour MEP Hugh Kerr and Professor of Law and retired senior lawyer with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Alfred De Zayas participate in this program.

    General Abdul-Wahid Shannan ar-Ribat, the former chief of staff of the Iraqi Army, requests that Mr. Blair, together with the then foreign secretary Jack Straw, and the attorney general at the time, Lord Goldsmith be put on trial. General Shannon ar-Ribat reportedly seeks their conviction for the crime of ‘aggression’ based on the findings of the 2016 Chilcot report into the war. The present UK Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, is having none of this and dismisses the case is ‘hopeless’ because there is no such thing as a ‘crime of aggression’ in English law.

    Both guests in this program give a detailed description of why Mr. Blair should be charged. Professor de Zayas, relying on his professional experience gives a detailed description of the case from the point of view from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN. Hugh Kerr adds that apart from being brought to justice for war crimes, there is also a moral case against Mr. Blair. “There was no basis for this [war] in international law, it was clearly an illegal act…” Hugh points out that both Conservative and Labour politicians clearly do not want to see Mr. Blair tried and appear to be taking steps to prevent this. Hugh says that because the international political environment is different from that in the UK, Mr. Blair could find it difficult to travel abroad in the future.

    Jeremy Wright’s intervention in the case is discussed, and Professor de Zayas portrays a culture of impunity where: “we do not commit war crimes, the ‘others’ do.” Professor de Zayas would not only like to see Mr. Blair brought to justice but also reparations paid by the UK and the US to the Iraqi people for the “enormous damage that we have caused them.”

    Professor de Zayas points out that the US is not very likely to listen to the International Criminal Court. He sees the ICC as being a very wounded institution: “as long as it only indicts Africans its credibility is very questionable and it will only become a true International Criminal Court when it starts indicting major war criminals in the West.”

    Hugh Kerr discusses the general lack of awareness of what exactly is going on with Mr. Blair among the population of the UK, which he puts down to control of the mass media. An interesting discussion takes place about the existence of democracy in a situation where the leader of a country cannot be held to account for acts which are illegal. In general, the continued immunity of Mr. Blair from even being brought to trial could be seen by some to be as a display of the health of objectivity of the media and democracy in the UK, and not only the UK.

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    Tags:
    Chilcot report, Iraqi war, Tony Blair, Iraq, United Kingdom
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