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The Iraqi High Criminal Court: controversy and contributions

30-06-2006 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 862, by Michael A. Newton

This article explores in detail the legal basis for the formation of the High Criminal Court under the law of occupation. It addresses the relationship between the Iraqi model of prosecuting crimes in domestic fora incorporating international law and the alternative model of transferring jurisdiction to an international forum.

The Iraqi High Criminal Court established to prosecute Saddam Hussein and other leading Ba’athists is one of the most visible of the current efforts to establish criminal accountability for violations of international norms. Juxtaposed against other tribunals, the High Criminal Court has provoked worldwide debate over its processes and its prospects for returning societal stability founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law to Iraq. This article explores in detail the legal basis for the formation of the High Criminal Court under the law of occupation. It addresses the relationship between the Iraqi model of prosecuting crimes in domestic fora incorporating international law and the alternative model of transferring jurisdiction to an international forum. The controversial aspects of the Iraqi model are considered, such as the legitimacy of its creation, the revocation of official immunity, the procedural fairness of the Statute in light of international norms, and the substantive coverage of what some have termed an internationalized domestic process. The author concludes that accountability for international crimes i s one of the unifying themes that should bind humanity in common purpose with the Iraqi jurists as they pursue justice in accordance with international norms.  


   
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Biography

Michael A. Newton is Acting Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville, Tennessee


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