July 16th, 2008
02:46 PM ET

War crimes - get on with it!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/16/art.sudan.omar.jpg caption="The International Criminal Court filed genocide charges against the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Monday."]
Editor's Note: You can read more Lisa Bloom blogs on In Session”

Lisa Bloom
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

There are always arguments to be made against war crimes tribunals.

Cambodia: too little, too late? The Cambodian people have waited 30 years for the leaders of the Khmer Rouge, which starved and slaughtered nearly two million men, women and children, to be brought to justice. A hybrid international/Cambodian tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which I visited last December, is holding five geriatric Khmer Rouge leaders now, awaiting a trial that has been in the works since it was authorized a decade ago. Speak to any Cambodian and you’ll get the same answer: “They killed my parents.” “My sister.” “Right before my eyes.” “This is the tree they swung children against until they were dead.” It is heartbreaking stuff. Let’s move this tribunal along, can’t we?

The ECCC is moving slowly in part because it’s breaking new legal ground by giving a significant role to victims, allowing them to be present as parties to the action, allowing them to ask questions of the perpetrators directly or through attorneys, and to seek compensation. It is also in desperate need of funding. Japan and many European countries have donated millions; the United States, which contributed to the rise of the anti-American Khmer Rouge by its bombing of Cambodia in the early 1970’s, nothing.

Darfur: too much, too soon? The sitting president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, faces an arrest for genocide and war crimes in connection with the genocide currently under way in Darfur. Already China and others have criticized the move as having the potential to cause further unrest. When a quarter of a million people have already been killed and over two million displaced, when rape of women and girls is widespread, not acting for fear of causing “unrest” is a sick joke.

After the horrors of the Holocaust became known throughout the world, the rallying cry of “Never again!” has been repeated often. Unfortunately, we have not lived up to it. Genocide did happen again, in Cambodia, and the world knew and did nothing. Again, in Iraq, again, in Bosnia, again, in Rwanda.

Perpetrators of genocide can’t be brought to justice too quickly. Every victim deserves to see the world community join together to stand with them in support of war crimes tribunals. They are in their infancy, and imperfect. But they beat the alternatives, brutality, war, and unredressed injustice.

Read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session”

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Lisa Bloom
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Jasonry

    I was shocked when AC said "Does this mean Barack Obama was right all along?" Obviously, the fatalities have dropped significantly in Iraq and flared up in Afghanistan...so we go there to stomp that out. Who are we fighting here??? Terrorists. The fact that there is so much resistance in that area near Pakistan would lead me to believe that we are closer to the source of this conflict.

    Oops, this wasnt the Iraq war blog....

    Bush, take your got darn hands off the oil wells....really, does Bush want oil? Do YOU want oil? Apparently you dont have to drive to work every day nor do you need to buy food for your table.

    Barack is already changing his position and we have a few more months to go, see how he adapts to the things that the Bush administration, the Military, and the rest of the world has been agreeing upon in the coming months.

    The only people influencing the election are black people that are voting on race, not white people resistant to vote for a black candidate. A 1st term senator from Illinois who is going to sound more like John McCain in the next 2 months that the Barack Obama that started this campaign.

    Darfur will be handled, is it a breeding ground for the hate of our desire to live and be free like these other regions? You would have to agree that there is alot being done to change what has been happening there. I pray that that work continues.

    July 17, 2008 at 5:27 am |
  2. Jimmy L. Heidelberg

    Dictators like Mugabe will stay in power until Countries like China and
    Russia have a Mugabe of their own to deal with, then and only then
    will the people in these countries like Zimbabwe, Sudan and
    Cambodia see true freedom.

    July 17, 2008 at 2:31 am |
  3. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    I agree..........we've done plenty of bad things to the people of our own country in our past. But, leaders like this Mugabe guy and others leave you wondering why we don't do anything. Bush runs into Iraq to kill Saddam, but does nothing in Darfur or other areas. He claims he is doing it to liberate Iraq and help people. They want us gone............Bush, take your hands off their oil wells long enough............to walk away.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  4. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    We need to stop dictators and put people in power who will do good for the people not their own pockets!

    July 16, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Its hard to prevent or prosecute genocide everywhere that it occurs; which is a shame but has gone on for centuries. Hopefully in our fast becoming global community we can put more pressure on factions that are committing crimes against humanity.

    Every country and every war has had its human horrors. In the Civil War both sides had their own – Andersonville on the side of the South; Fort Douglas in Chicago and Rock Island on the side of the Union and then our policies against Native Americans especially at Wounded Knee. I hope we have improved over time but each war or revolt bring new infamous names. Maybe one day we will learn that we all need each other. In the meantime we need to prioritize catching the people who gave the order for genocide and make it plain that this will no longer be tolerated.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  6. lampe

    Guantanamo Bay, please we are talking about countries that killed millions and millions of people. Learn how to read the story, before you make stupid comments.

    July 16, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  7. Vickie

    Its a shame but I dont think the the Camobodians will see any justice for at least another 5 or 6 years if at all. Lets face it corrupt people rule these parts of the world(and here) JUSTICE is slow because of that fact.

    July 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  8. Sharon from Indy

    I agree with Carmen, what about Guantanamo Bay?

    July 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  9. Ayse

    In an ideal world, The Hague would be charging people left right and centre for crimes against humanity, but the truth is we (the ordinary folk) do not see exactly what those judges do. The only time I heard of anything going on was Milosevic (he died), the Saddam (he died), but let's take a closer look at this 'fine' legal judicary system. No action against the repressive regime of Mugabe. Surely if Zimbabwe had exsessive oil in its grand land , the judges and our fine leaders would have most certainly have opted for action sooner rather than later.

    July 16, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  10. carmen

    Let's not forget Guantanamo Bay.

    July 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  11. Larry

    If those murdering Nazis on the loose can still be hunted down and brought to trial then why not the Khmer Rouge? I'm all for the justice, no matter how long it takes. Even our own Civil War showed the world what we ourselves are capable of, Andersonville makes Gitmo look like a summer camp.

    July 16, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  12. Cindy

    I'm with you girl. I think they have been moving way too slow in getting these leaders who are promoting and allowing genocide in their countries. To not do anything to them for fear of retaliation is ridiculous in my book! They are going to rape, kill and pillage no matter what happens. It can't happen soon enough for me that they put these dictators behind bars and give them a taste of their own medicine.


    July 16, 2008 at 2:58 pm |