November 30, 1998
HOUSE OF LORDS RULING ON PINOCHET: 'HISTORIC MILESTONE'
Last Wednesday's ruling by Britain's House of Lords that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was not immune from prosecution on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism committed during his 17-year rule elicited substantial editorial comment overseas. A majority of editorialists in Latin America, Europe and Asia hailed the decision, calling it a "historic milestone in defense of human rights" and a "warning to all satraps--they are no longer immune." These sentiments were voiced most strongly by opinion-makers in Britain and Spain, where writers of all political stripes judged that the ruling was "a giant step toward establishing the rule of international law." Dailies in Spain, which is demanding Mr. Pinochet's extradition, echoed the assessment of Madrid's liberal El Pais, which held: "Whatever the outcome, the verdict of the five lords underlines the existence of a new system of international justice." In London, the independent Financial Times concluded, as did others, that "what is now promised is something the politicians have never been brave or honest enough to deliver: a system of legal jurisdiction that, at worst, confines violent dictators to their own countries and, at best, brings many more to justice." A number of commentators focused on the U.S. reaction to General Pinochet's arrest, contending that the superpower has chosen to remain "silent" about the issue because it allegedly feels "guilty" about its erstwhile involvement in Chile. Following are salient themes in the commentary:
'MOMENTUM' FOR ICC: A number of observers saw the establishment of an International Criminal Court as the logical next step following the House of Lords decision. Right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine stressed that the "fact that Pinochet almost succeeded in avoiding...arrest" should provide "new momentum" for the establishment of an ICC. A number of papers listed the dictator of choice they would like to see brought to task in such a forum, naming Laurent Kabila, Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic, among others.
CRITICISMS: Only a few pundits were strongly critical about the Law Lords' decision. Not surprisingly, government-owned and conservative dailies in Santiago viewed it with great consternation, deeming the ruling an infringement of Chile's sovereignty and a setback for "smaller nations" in the face of "internationalism administered by the great powers." Also expressing concern about the "principle of sovereignty," Rio's independent Jornal da Tarde averred that the "order on which the difficult peaceful coexistence between states is based" is in danger of being "totally subverted." Contending that the Pinochet issue is polarizing the political situation in Chile, several writers in Santiago and elsewhere believed that putting the former dictator on trial is not worth risking the country's fragile democracy. There was also some fear expressed in certain quarters that this "new climate" of international justice will not be applied "equally," and that the richer nations of the world will be the ones to pick and choose which dictators will be brought to justice for their crimes. "The end of the Cold War reinforced the predominance of the northern hemisphere over the southern hemisphere. There is the risk that international cases such as this may be converted into another instrument of this predominance that is not only economic, but cultural," asserted one Brazilian writer.
This survey is based on 58 reports from 21 countries, November 25-30.
EDITORS: Kathleen Brahney and Diana McCaffrey
|  WESTERN HEMISPHERE  | |  EUROPE  |    |  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |
Top-circulation, financial Estrategia had this editorial view (11/27): "The Law Lords' adverse finding that ignores former President Augusto Pinochet's immunity, unavoidably makes us reflect about the quality of the defense.... Although the government's juridical steps were correct, they were insufficient and showed signs of weakness that allowed our national independence be trampled.... A critical point over which nobody has thought of is the negative effect...of having as official spokespersons...the foreign minister and the Chilean Ambassador to Great Britain, both Socialists.... Actions to defend the state...must show all the energy and courage [necessary] to protect our sovereignty. In that sense, we hope the authorities consider the gravity of the situation and act consistently."
"Chile's Grave Defeat"
Top-circulation, financial Estrategia also carried this op-ed piece (11/27) by Independent Democratic Union (UDI) deputy Harry Jurgensen, who opined: "Socialists and Communists are jumping with joy seeing how their greatest enemy, Senator Pinochet, is defeated, and don't care about the grave defeat that our country, foreign minister and government...have suffered. Such Socialist joy shows that they haven't been able to eradicate their feelings of hate and lust for revenge.... Who can believe we face an exclusively juridical matter? With this, our own rights have been trampled.... What happened after the murder of hundreds of Chinese students in Tianamnen?... What punishment is demanded for one of the greatest violators of human rights...Fidel Castro?"
"Law Lords' Finding"
Government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion concluded (11/26): "If the Law Lords' ruling has made such an impression throughout the world it is because...[the ruling] has established a juridical landmark in Great Britain and Europe on how to judge crimes against humanity.... The Pinochet case has harshly presented us with a painful part of our recent history and has made the transition's unresolved problems evident...ideas of truth, justice, repentance, forgiveness.... This is a time when we all need to act with good sense and responsibility. Harsh antagonisms that have caused so many lacerations in Chilean society should not be deepened.... We need to avoid any action that might accentuate political polarization. From this episode we must learn the lesson that will lead us to consolidate the rule of law and strengthen the culture of freedom."
Conservative, influential El Mercurio emphasized (11/26): "British justice...in principle, has accepted the Spanish judges' competence to judge events in Chile... These events are extremely grave for Chile. For the first time in history, a foreign judge can try a former head of state against his government's and country's opinion, thereby, ignoring the significance of Chilean laws in their own country. The country's social peace may be at stake and the leaders have the great responsibility to secure the respect for international principles that make civilized co-habitation between nations possible."
"Internationalism Moves Against Smaller Nations"
Conservative, afternoon La Segunda said in an editorial (11/25): "Internationalism, administered by great powers, which is possible to deduce from today's decision, is a move against smaller nations, which until today were protected by basic principles of international law."
ARGENTINA: "Washington In A Jam"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin commented (11/29): "Since Pinochet's arrest in London, the United States has looked the other way. The United States affirms that it is an issue which only involves Spain, Chile and Great Britain. But recently declassified documents from the FBI, CIA, the Departments of State and Defense...have proven that the U.S. position is not that of an innocent [bystander].... The documents at issue... have proven that then President Nixon, Secretary of State Kissinger and the CIA financially and politically supported the coup.... 'Obviously we need to apply [U.S.] law if it has been violated,' said National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. However, the only thing the Department of State has done so far is say that it is studying that possibility. In contrast with the Swiss and French governments, the White House neither publicly supported the request for extradition from Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, nor totally cooperated with his investigation. Garzon is convinced that the United States has more documents, still classified, which show U.S. involvement even more. Undoubtedly, if Pinochet were indicted in the United States, all those secret documents would have to be declassified."
"Eruption Of Global Justice"
Oscar Raul Cardoso opined in leading Clarin (11/26): "Pinochet's arrest is perhaps the second meaningful cue [after the Nuremberg process] that the changes in jurisdiction created by globalization...are opening new avenues for justice regarding crimes against humanity.... [But] reality suggests that...[in this new climate] justice is not always applied equally. That's why it is a Chilean (Pinochet) and not an American like Henry Kissinger, foreign promoter of the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende, who is arrested and in peril.... Pinochet's fate...opens the door to questions not easily answered."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo stressed (11/29): "It is said that globalization is inevitable, and it is here to stay. The bloody former dictator Augusto Pinochet, for example, is being properly globalized. If the world already speaks English, negotiates in dollars, produces companies without headquarters, concentrates profits and shares damages, so now one sees the continuation of the loss of nationality--and the impunity of dictators and tyrants in general.... The world has seen and suffered with the bloodshed in Chile. The barbarism there was not national. The punishment should have global responsibility. And it should be done soon since Pinochet is 83 years old."
"White House's Silence"
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo's Washington correspondent Paulo Sotero noted (11/27): "The British decision should increase the pressure for Clinton administration to review its relations with Pinochet's regime and puts Washington in a position to give an explanation about the non-inclusion of the former dictator among those charged by the American justice for the death of Ronni Moffitt and Orlando Letelier.... The British verdict reinforces...the reasons that led the Clinton administration not to subscribe to the convention fto create the International Criminal Court. Another implication of the decision taken by the British judges that worries Washington is the inhibiting impact that it could have on the negotiated solution of conflicts. The delicate peace processes in the Middle East and in North Ireland are two examples of efforts that could easily be jeopardized by the legal cases against the human rights violations. The Clinton administration also has specific reasons to be uneasy with the evolution of the international judicial process against Pinochet. For reasons caused by the priorities of its foreign policy during the Cold War, Washington helped the former general to prepare and execute the coup against Chile's constitutional president, the socialist Salvador Allende."
"Peaceful Coexistence Undermined"
The lead editorial in independent Jornal da Tarde insisted (11/26): "It would be wonderful for mankind if international law could make all tyrants responsible for their crimes.... It would be even better for the world if Pinochet were jailed and his possible trial really represented the end of tolerance [of tyrants] and the beginning of hope for those who live under those still in power. But none of this is happening.... Pinochet's imprisonment is nothing but an isolated attitude that has placed the governments of both England and Spain into a cumbersome situation.... By permitting the judgment of leaders of a nation by the court of another nation, the principle of sovereignty, will be revoked.... This means a total subversion of order on which the difficult peaceful coexistence between states is based."
"Victory For Human Rights"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo's publisher, Otavio Frias Filho, judged (11/26): "The finding against General Pinochet means a great victory for the international campaign on human rights. Based on humanitarian or democratic principles, Pinochet must be judged and condemned. But...there is a list of former dictators touring around the world, responsible for crimes similar to those of Pinochet, without anybody having sufficient interest or determination to deal with them. What would have happened if a Brazilian judge demanded the imprisonment of China's president, Jiang Zemin, chief of one of the most dictatorial regimes on the planet, when he visited this country? Or if Clinton were arrested in an airport for his attack against Sudan?... The end of Cold War reinforced the predominance of the northern hemisphere over the southern hemisphere. There is the risk that international cases such as this may be converted into another instrument of this predominance that is not only economic, but cultural."
CANADA: "Dictators Now Tremble"
Guy Taillefer commented in liberal, French-language Le Devoir (11/30): "The Pinochet affair makes oppressors of all nationalities and of all varieties tremble for their impunity. In Latin America, from Brazil to Uruguay to Haiti, these are the dictators that the United States have generally supported more or less in the open. The discretion that Washington is showing in regard to the extraordinary troubles that London is inflicting on Augusto Pinochet is evidently one of guilt. If the United States applauds, it does so hypocritically, with the suicide of Salvador Allende on its conscience. The Americans, cryogenized by their Cold War logic, backed the bloody excesses of the military repression in Chile."
"No Refuge For Despots"
The liberal Toronto Star judged (11/26): "Pinochet no longer can claim that he is being held unlawfully. He must face his accusers.... [The British] ruling reflects a healthy and growing consensus that despots must not be allowed to commit horrific crimes, give themselves writs of immunity and evade justice. This has implications for...other democracies. Many current political leaders are guilty of similar crimes. They, too, could find themselves hauled into any court in the world. This could fray relations among countries.... But upholding universal rights matters more. The Pinochet ruling does, however, serve as an argument for creating a permanent international criminal tribunal, where people could be brought to justice with a minimum of international fuss.... The defense of human rights should not have to depend on an enlightened ruling by a British court, or on an exceptional tribunal. A permanent world court would be better."
PANAMA: "Verdict Is Triumph Of Human Rights"
Conservative El Panama America maintained (11/27): "The verdict of the House of Lords constitutes a transcendental triumph for the cause of human rights in the world...without coercive force and with almost symbolic value.... The doctrine that consolidates the verdict of the House of Lords is clear: Crimes against human rights transcend legislation, national borders and official privileges or posts [and] are officially prosecutable by any country [anywhere].... It is (only) a question of time before the same principle is extended to other grave international crimes, such as narco-trafficking, the exploitation of migrants, and transnational fraud."
"Thank You, England!"
Independent La Prensa claimed (11/27): "With restraint and British wisdom, the Lords made history yesterday, setting a precedent that will have vast repercussions in the revision of antiquated dogmas of sovereignty, extra-territorality, international law, and political science.... It is an extraordinary lesson that will convert declarations, treaties, and illusions about human rights into overarching standards with which it will be obligatory to comply.... Thank you, England! Once again, humanity and civilization are in your debt."
BRITAIN: "Let Him Face Justice Before His People"
The conservative Times' editorial stressed (11/30): "We can, if we want to, try him ourselves, if a proper preliminary enquiry shows a prima facie case against him. The objection to returning Senator Pinochet is simply that he still has great influence in Chile. Any Chilean trial would be subject to the criticism that the had passed an amnesty to protect himself. Extradition to Spain seems to be the least desirable option; Spain did not make the arrest and does not have the evidence. Far more people are tortured in the modern world than become victims of terrorism. Senator Pinochet is not the only head or former head of government who could be arrested, but his regime was notorious for torture. He should be tried, as a warning to others. Chile is the right place to try him. I expect the government to take the view; if it does so, it will not be breaching its obligations under the Convention on Torture."
"Ruling For Humanity"
The independent Financial Times' editorial maintained (11/27): "Three judges in the House of Lords have done what politicians and diplomats have always shrunk from. They have added teeth to the grand declarations affirming the universality of human rights which governments so casually sign and then so carelessly ignore. The judges have declared that some values transcend the arid technical disputes about legal jurisdictions and defy the cynical casuistry of political convenience.... Of course, it is heard said (not least from a British Conservative Party that has inexplicably set itself up as the champion of hereditary peers at home and nasty dictators abroad) that the general is a frail old man. Compassion speaks for sending him home. Wrong. There is no humanitarian consideration that can forgive the Pinochet regime its inhumanity.
"We hear a second strand of opinion which says that it is for Chile to deal with its tyrants.... The avowed trade-off between democracy and justice is an illusion. Chile has not been given a choice other than to deny its past. But the satisfaction to be drawn from this week's ruling reaches far beyond the fate of General Pinochet. It breathes life into the UN conventions and declarations that have always promised but never succeeded in upholding the sanctity and dignity of human life. The court has demolished the doctrine of...immunity behind which the most evil dictators have sheltered.
"What is now promised is something the politicians have never been brave or honest enough to deliver: a system of legal jurisdiction that, at worst, confines violent dictators to their own countries and, at best, brings many more to justice."
"Ex-Dictators Are Not Immune"
In the editorial view of the independent weekly Economist (11/27): "Plenty of dictators have enjoyed comfortable retirements, no matter what deeds they committed while in power. They had little to fear from judges or lawyers. It looks as if those days are now coming to an end. But whatever General Pinochet's fate, the Law Lord's ruling is a giant step towards establishing the rule of international law.... In General Pinochet's case, individual countries have also shown themselves more willing than ever to put a tyrant on trial. But the biggest hurdle will be persuading those who oppose the entire effort as utopian, or dangerous. Their most common objection is that, once former leaders are subject to trial, every leader will have to fear being ensnared by the same legal net. Yet the chances of this happening are remote.... A more substantive objection is that General Pinochet's arrest in Britain or extradition to Spain may upset a fragile transition to democracy in Chile and discourage future dictators from handing over power.... If Mr. Straw genuinely believes that Chile's democracy will collapse under the strain, that might justify sending General Pinochet home. So far, though, there is no evidence for believing this. Moreover, there is a strong countervailing argument: The ease with which dictators have escaped any consequences for their crimes has encouraged more to seize power and to commit further barbarities."
SPAIN: "Welcome, Insulza"
Independent El Mundo commented (11/30): "Chilean Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza is coming to Madrid tomorrow from London where, he has stated that Pinochet cannot receive a fair trial in Spain given 'the emotional state of affairs' here, while at the same time he would have us believe that he could get a fair trial in his own country. Not only is this an affront to Spanish courts, it is also an insult to the intelligence of international public opinion.... [Nevertheless] the government should welcome him with courtesy and inform him with equal courtesy that if he has come to discuss the Pinochet matter, he has traveled all this way in vain."
"Pinochet In Exchange For Democracy"
Liberal El Pais opined (11/29): "Pinochet, the person who bombed the government palace in 1973, could become a bargaining chip, forging unity among Chilean political forces seeking his return to Chile in exchange for closing out a period of supervised democracy so as to bring about a democracy with no such strictures. If this comes about, then Pinochet's arrest in London at the request of [Spanish] magistrate Garzon will not only have furthered international justice, but Chile's true transition to democracy as well."
"A Milestone In The Defense Of Human Rights"
Independent El Mundo commented (11/26): "It was a truly moving and historic verdict...in which the majority held steadfastly that the crimes which the former Chilean dictator has been charged with--especially torture and kidnapping--can in no way be considered official acts of a head of state.... The verdict is without precedent...revolutionary. Never before has a duly constituted tribunal ruled that those who abuse power to commit crimes can and should be pursued anywhere.... This is the essential judicial precedent that has been established...and with it, the foundations of what could and ought to become a borderless system of justice are beginning to be set....
"It would be appropriate to progress from isolated initiatives [such as this one]--which generate nettlesome bilateral conflicts--to a global effort, as represented by the International Criminal Court about which so much is being said, but very little has been done concretely."
"A Historic Precedent"
Conservative ABC opined (11/26): "The Law Lords' verdict constitutes an historic precedent in the long struggle in the defense of human rights in an international context, as well as a sign of change in the current judicial paradigm...which also finds expression in the International Criminal Court. Given the inability of a country like Spain to handle matters such as these, placing the ICC in operation becomes more critical with each passing day."
"No Immunity For Pinochet"
Liberal El Pais maintained (11/26): "For many democrats the world over, yesterday was a day to rejoice.... There are still many obstacles to overcome before General Pinochet can be placed in the dock in Madrid's National High Court. But whatever the outcome, the verdict of the five lords underlines the existence of a new system of international justice, or better said, the sum total of national laws and international agreements in the absence of such a system. Each country has to make the transition from dictatorship to democracy as best it can, but as of yesterday, dictators no longer in power will not enjoy freedom of movement outside their country. They will have to stay home if they do not want to be arrested."
"Death Has A Price"
New conservative La Razon remarked (11/26): "The decision of the Law Lords...opens a debate...about the relative nature of justice. It is desirable that a dictator can be brought to justice, although it would have been better had he never come to power in the first place. What is undesirable is that dictators continue to exercise power and that they are condoned by a hypocritical world which accords them sovereign immunity, the equivalent of a slap in the face of humanity. Does death also have a price for them to pay, or should only those who leave power have to pay it?"
FRANCE: "Two Categories Of Dictators"
Jacques Amalric pointed out in left-of-center Liberation (11/27): "Reasons of state have never gone hand in hand with human rights.... Our expectations in the face of France's determination regarding Pinochet is all the greater because French officials, who care very little about Saddam Hussein's crimes and who accepted that Milosevic not be tried by the international tribunal, are today welcoming a dictator who probably has more blood on his hands than the Chilean dictator: Laurent Desire Kabila. Could it be that for our leaders there are two categories of international criminals--those who are without power, therefore useless, and who should be tried for their crimes; and those who are useful because they remain in power and whose defense is based on political, diplomatic or commercial reasons? The answer is definitely yes."
GERMANY: "Only A Minor Farce?"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin carried this editorial (11/29): "Her majesty's diplomats obviously want to send Pinochet back to Chile where he should be tried. Chile is now making fun of London saying that it cannot guarantee a verdict. How could it? Everyone, including the British, knows that Pinochet enjoys immunity in Chile.... If Pinochet is sent back home, the British will prove to be the masters in the art of saving face. The Law Lords have done justice to the feeling of justice, while the politicians are demonstrating their sense of pragmatism. Then the whole trouble about Pinochet would not have been more than a minor farce."
Ulrich Schilling-Strack wrote in an editorial in centrist General-Anzeiger of Bonn (11/29): "The latest development in the Pinochet case has not yet been confirmed and it is by no means clear whether General Pinochet can soon return home. But anything other than a horse trade would be a great surprise.... For the London government, the chances are too tempting to get rid of the general as soon as possible. The decision of the Law Lords to deprive Pinochet of his immunity, has now kicked the ball back into the camp of the British government.... Politicians are now celebrating the latest proposal [to try Pinochet before a Chilean court] as a 'Solomonic solution,' but human rights activists are outraged. For them an old proverb comes true: Small fry are caught while the big fish continue to be at large."
"New Momentum For International Court"
Erik-Michael Bader argued in an editorial in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/27): "With their decision, the British Law Lords maintained the chance that a trial according to the rule of law could be initiated against ex-dictator Pinochet.... The fact that Pinochet almost succeeded in avoiding his arrest should give efforts for the establishment of an International Criminal Court new momentum."
Right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin judged (11/26): "With the decision not to grant Chile's ex-dictator Pinochet immunity, the British Law Lords made history. For the first time, a dictator can now be put on trial before a foreign court for crimes he committed at home..... The possible investigation against Pinochet marks the culmination of a development which we have observed for quite some time: the prosecution of crimes against humanity is getting increasingly significant. The special tribunals for ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the agreement among 120 states to establish an International Criminal Court are evidence enough."
"A Decision Of Historic Dimensions"
Right-of-center Stuttgarter Nachrichten emphasized (11/26): "Dictator, if you are coming to Europe, your hands will be tied, justice will be given to your victims, and you will be put on trial. Admittedly, this is a vision for the future, since Europe is still no island of the righteous. Nevertheless, we left the stage of pious wishes yesterday. The decision of the British Law Lords to keep Pinochet in prison has historic dimensions. It is a breakthrough in human rights questions. The message from London is: Dictators cannot bury justice just by granting amnesty to themselves. They remain responsible for their crimes during their entire lives."
ITALY: "Justice Transcends Borders"
Arrigo Levi penned this editorial for centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/26): "We don't know how the rights of single states will adapt to this new universal conscience of the people.... Governments as well as tribunals and peoples are exploring new frontiers of law, based on the incomplete, imperfect, but strong and widespread opinion that there must be no more borders in tomorrow's world, if we want to survive together."
RUSSIA: "Warning To Potential Dictators"
Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/27) front-paged this comment by Tatyana Koshkareva and Rustam Narzikulov: "Many ambitious politicians, as they picture themselves in a dictator's uniform, must now fear lest they find themselves in Pinochet's shoes."
"Decision Of Great Moral Importance"
Dmitry Yuryev stressed in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/27): "From the standpoint of morality, the decision (by the British Court), without a doubt, is enormously important, as a precedent."
"Belated But Logical"
Aleksandr Kuzmichshev commented in neo-communist Slovo (11/27-12/1): "Why has the West decided to forsake Pinochet? Most likely, he has been too big a blotch on the 'democratic' facade Washington has been working so hard to build after the USSR's disintegration."
BELGIUM: "Decision Represents Evolution Of International Law"
In independent Le Soir, editor-in-chief Guy Duplat editorialized (11/26): "Of course, the procedure is not over. The British justice still has to decide whether it will extradite the former putschist. But the Lords' decision already represents an evolution of international law. At the very moment when we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration, a new step has been made toward the establishment of a universal right of interference in the case of crimes against humanity. International public morality is scoring against all the dictators who are aging without ever having to answer for their crimes."
"Lords Write A Page In History Books"
Bernard Delattre commented in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (11/26): "The decision taken on Wednesday by the magistrates of the Chamber of Lords is at the same time courageous, salutary and historic.... The Lords have contributed in their own way to write an essential page of history.... The international community would be ill-advised not to go any further.... It also has to show that Pinochet is not an alibi or an example, but a precedent. Throughout the world, there are still many unpunished dictators."
DENMARK: "A Worrying Decision"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten commented (11/27): "A lot of allegations could be raised against Pinochet--and many of them would be justified--but the decision in the House of Lords is worrying because it...creates a precedent that a citizen who is legally in another country can be extradited to a third country in the name of something as vague as humanity. The next thing will be that Congo will demand that the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger be arrested during a visit to Oslo and prosecuted for American action in Indo-China during the 60s.... The law is becoming more global, but this is an unfortunate development. An international court is needed to stop prosecutors outbidding each other."
"A Milestone In International Law"
Center-left Politiken's editorial argued (11/26): "The ruling that Chile's former dictator, August Pinochet, can be extradited to Spain is a milestone in the development of international law. It shows that the civilized world will not accept that a dictator with blood on his hands can peacefully live out the rest of his days.... The Spanish and British legal systems have given the conscience of the international community a blood transfusion. This ought to be followed by, among others, the United States in connection with the establishment of an International Criminal Court. It is too late to prosecute Pol Pot, but not too late to do something about Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic."
HUNGARY: "Dictating To Dictators"
Pro-government Magyar Nemzet carried this editorial by senior foreign affairs writer Janos Avar (11/29): "The Law Lords have cut off the escape route for the politicians, too. Because it is not only for British secretary of interior, Mr. Straw, to make a painful decision soon, but--in case he decides for extradition--his Spanish counterparts and others, too. I mean by others those who, during the past decades, supported the idea (and have settled down with it) of living peacefully alongside acting or ex-dictators. This approach could be more or less maintained during the black and white times of the Cold War, although the democratic part of Europe did not want a bit of the Francoist or the Portuguese ultra-left autocracies. Today, after all, democracies dictate, there is no doubt about it, and quite effectively, even to the still acting dictators."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Decision Is A Warning To Dictators"
Calvinist Troux had this front-page editorial (11/27): "The decision of the Law Lords is a warning to dictators who have violated human rights. They have to watch out even when they leave their country and even when they have closed a deal with their own governments."
"Warm-Up For ICC"
Influential liberal De Volkskrant observed (11/27): "The possible extradition and trial of Pinochet is unique in international law. It means that an ex-dictator who thought he had made an arrangement could still be prosecuted. This is a warm-up for the International Criminal Court. The aim of globalizing law is to be applauded, even if there are some difficult aspects to it."
POLAND: "Let Him Return To Chile"
Malgorzata Alterman wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/28-29): "What the developing Chile needs most of all is stability. Therefore, I believe that those who want to bring Pinochet before an international trial--even if they have the best intentions--are setting fire to the new Chilean home.... For the army, Pinochet is still a god. The country's leaders can feel the breath of the army right behind their back. Should the government prove unable to control the situation, the generals will want to replace it. And this we know well from the past."
"Justice Of This World"
Leopold Unger opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/27): "What happened last Thursday in London is significant and in line with the sense of history. Legally, we have a new chapter in international law history.... The Lords in London--may they be praised for this--proclaimed the priority of international law over domestic law. The world is now looking closely at the hands and consciences of dictators.... Politically, this comes as a warning against all satraps--they are no longer immune.... Parts of a case like this are not only the executioner and his victims, but also universal justice and moral order, which should rule the world. History does not issue verdicts--it is the verdicts that make history. We had an example of this in London."
INDONESIA: "The Sad Fate of Dictators"
The government-oriented Indonesian Observer pointed out (11/28): "The nasty fate which befell Pinochet should set former president Soeharto thinking as he faces an interrogation into his private wealth.
"Even if he is fortunate enough to wriggle out of it, there is a possibility that he may have to answer for the large number of casualties in the course of his rise to power, and in the years taken to consolidate his position. Up till now, there has been only one version relating to the abortive coup for which the Communists were held responsible, as well as the assassination of the six army generals. Under the ironclad authority of the previous New Order government, no sensible person would have dared to question the validity of the official explanation around the putsch, but in the new era of reformation there may be a need to dig into this affair be it only to put the record straight, and to find the answer to certain pointed questions.... It is certainly a blot on the pages of Indonesia's history and is time that the people should know the truth about this tragedy, an event which the CIA described as one of the worst murders of the 20th century."
PHILIPPINES: "A Landmark Decision"
The liberal Today's editorial stressed (11/27): "The decision by Britain's Law Lords...imperils former and current tyrants everywhere.... The British decision could result in the institutionalization of a new concept of law that will prevent deposed dictators from finding sanctuary in other countries."
SOUTH KOREA: "Dictators Are Trembling With Fear"
Pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo commented (11/27): "The British court ruling has left former dictators in fear. Many of those who had committed horrible crimes against humanity were granted immunity, but the call for their punishment will grow louder on the strength of the latest ruling. The House of Lord's decision marked a potentially significant broadening of prosecutorial power to cross national borders in order to pursue those suspected of crimes against humanity. However, it may lead to complicated diplomatic imbroglios. Also, the movement to establish the ICC will gain further momentum as a result."
THAILAND: "Serious Issues In The Pinochet Case"
The lead editorial of the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post commented (11/30): "A British court now is duty-bound to arrest any former government leader, of any nation, who is visiting Britain--if someone wishes to lay charges against him.... Perhaps the decision by the lords will be applied only with great honor and wisdom by virtuous men and women. Perhaps they will only use the principle to hold men who have truly committed vast atrocities, and not simply outraged certain Western liberal sensibilities.... The British government will decide by next Friday night whether to send Senator Pinochet home for New Year's. It should do so. The former tyrant turned 83 last week and will never undergo a meaningful trial. Britain should then lay out its own new law and policy on foreign visitors who may have served their governments in the past."
INDIA: "South Africa Killers Fear Fallout"
M.S. Prabhakara wrote in the centrist Hindu (11/29): "The findings of the British House of Lords in the Pinochet case throws open the whole issue of amnestying such crimes by a South Africa structure and the relevance of such amnesty outside the borders of South Africa."
"The Day Of The Dictator"
An editorial in the centrist Indian Express made these observations (11/27): "It is quite accidental that, at this moment, General Augusto Pinochet happens to be in a private clinic in London....
"It's always been like that. At the end of the day, after a busy schedule in supervising jackboots, death squads, prisons and genocide, you actually like to retire to villa, wine and fireplace--and playing solitaire in the afternoon.... Now the House of Lords has ruled that Pinochet enjoys no immunity.... Punished after a show trial? At 83, is he worth it? Since hand-over-the-killer has become such a familiar cry in a world where justice is subordinated to the politics of ethnicity and self-determination, Pinochet can at best serve as an example. People like Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still out there. And a day will come when Saddam Hussein will have no bunker to hide. In a century dominated by the art of the dictator, the possibility of a Pinochet trial signifies not the final triumph of truth but the search for justice, the revenge of memory."
For more information, please contact:
U.S. Information Agency
Office of Public Liaison
Telephone: (202) 619-4355
# # #