Monday, January 08, 2007

European reaction to the hanging of Saddam

here's a sampling of the European reaction to the hanging of Saddam, via Wikiquote (my highlighting):

European Union: European Commissioner for Development Aid Louis Michel stated that the execution of Saddam Hussein is against the fundamental principles of the European Union. The EU is against the death penalty, whatever are the crimes committed. "It is not a big day for democracy," Michel stated to the RTBF. "The EU is in fierce opposition to the death penalty and there is no exception to that fundamental principle. Cruelty is not to be answered with cruelty. I believe that there were other possible means to revenge the cruelties committed by Saddam. The death penalty is not the right answer." He fears that the execution of Saddam has a negative impact and that the former dictator will emerge as a martyr. "You don't fight barbarism with acts that I deem as barbaric. The death penalty is not compatible with democracy," he told Reuters.

Austria: "Austria has always campaigned against the impunity of people in the highest positions of political responsibility and supports the effort for an effective international penal jurisdiction. At the same time Austria rejects the death penalty as a matter of principle and stands for its worldwide abolition. This applies without exception and cruelty of the committed crime. Saddam Hussein's guilt in oppressing his own people, the assassination of political enemies and innocent civilians is undoubtedly documented. However, Austria's stance against the death penalty also applies in this case." - Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release

Belgium: The Belgian Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht, repeated his objection to the execution and death penalty in general. He also expressed the hope that the violence in Iraq would come to an end, now that the personification of the cruel regime had died.

Czech Republic: The Czech Foreign Ministry has welcomed the execution of the former dictator of Iraq Saddam Hussein. In a statement the Ministry said his death was an important historic milestone and represented at least partial satisfaction for the families of Saddam's victims. In the short term his killing could cause instability in Iraq, but in the long term the end of the era of Saddam Hussein will move the country closer to stability and democracy, it said. Though the death penalty contradicts European values his execution should be looked at from the perspective of Iraq today, said the Foreign Ministry.

Denmark: The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that Denmark condemned the actions of Saddam Hussein, but did not support the capital punishment. "This has been pointed out to the Iraqi government on several occasions and this is also the reason we have not aided the Iraqi Special Tribunal against him," he said in a statement. Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller said to Danish television that he would rather seen that Saddam Hussein had been tried at an international tribunal.

Finland: Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja, replied that the European Union opposes capital punishment. "Even if there are no doubts that Saddam Hussein is guilty of very serious crimes against humanity, very serious comments have been made about the court process in Iraq."

France: "France calls upon all Iraqis to look towards the future and work towards reconciliation and national unity. Now more than ever, the objective should be a return to full sovereignty and stability in Iraq. France, which like the rest of its European partners advocates the universal abolition of capital punishment, notes the execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday. That decision was made by the people and the sovereign authorities of Iraq." — French Foreign Ministry

Germany: "Saddam Hussein was sentenced by an Iraqi court, and this verdict has been executed. We do respect this verdict. However, it is known, that the Federal Government of Germany is against capital punishment. On a day like this, my thoughts are foremost with the many innocent victims of Saddam Hussein. I do wish for the Iraqi people that it will find its way without violence and in peace." — German chancellor Angela Merkel

"The federal government of Germany is against capital punishment, no matter where. However there is no doubt about the crimes of Saddam Hussein." — German Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gernot Erler

Greece: "As known, Greece, together with all member states of the European Union, has abolished the death penalty. The execution of dictator Saddam Hussein is one more dramatic moment added to the troubled history of Iraq. We hope that it is the last. We wish and hope the friendly Iraqi people will follow the route to reconciliation and ethnic unanimity. The only route that can lead to a peaceful, secure and democratic future." Dora Bakoyannis, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs

Iceland: Minister of foreign affairs said that the Iraqi court was legal, and that the Icelandic government accepted the sentence, however that the government of Iceland was opposed to death penalty. Additionally, she stated that all political party leaders in Iceland were afraid of the execution's consequences.

Ireland: "We have to accept the right of the Iraqi judiciary to hand down a sentence. Ireland however, in common with its EU partners, does not approve of capital punishment. I believe Saddam Hussein should have ended his years behind bars for his heinous crimes." - Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern

Italy: "Italy is against the death penalty and so even in such a dramatic case as Saddam Hussein, we still think that the death penalty must not be put into action." - Prime Minister Romano Prodi

Netherlands: "It's understandable that Saddam Hussein received the most severe punishment under Iraqi law. Nevertheless, we are opposed to the death penalty, which is inhumane and barbaric; even in Hussein's case, the sentence should not have been carried out." — Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm

Norway: The Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated in a press release that "It is important that the former dictator of Iraq was brought before a court and sentenced for some of his crimes against humanity". However, "Norway opposes the use of the death penalty in principle, and therefore regrets the execution of Saddam Hussein. The execution does not solve Iraq’s political problems, including the serious security situation."

Portugal: "The Portuguese Government reaffirms its total opposition to death penalty in all cases and circumstances."

Russia: "Regrettably, repeated calls by representatives of various nations and international organizations to the Iraqi authorities to refrain from capital punishment were not heard. Saddam Hussein's execution can lead to further aggravation of the military and political situation and the growth of ethnic and confessional tensions." — Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin

Serbia: "We have seen that the situation in Iraq is chaotic. I am afraid this might cause even worse consequences. Serbia strongly objects to the death penalty. Calls against execution made by non-governmental organization such as Amnesty International should have been accepted" — Minister of Justice Zoran Stojkovi?

Spain: "All dictators must answer for their crimes, but I cannot support this kind of punishment, I am against the death penalty." — Government President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero

Sweden: "Sweden and the European Union are without exception against the death penalty. I have earlier expressed the wish for the death sentence of Saddam Hussein being commuted to life in prison." — Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt

Switzerland: "Saddam Hussein was a criminal, but the DFA disapproves of his execution. ... Switzerland advocates the abolition of the death penalty in the context of both its multilateral and in its bilateral diplomacy." — Federal Department of Foreign Affairs press release

United Kingdom: "I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account [...] The British government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else [...] We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation." — Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett

Vatican City: "An execution is always tragic news, reason for sadness, even in the case of a person who is guilty of grave crimes." - Holy See spokesperson Federico Lombardi.

"[The execution punishes] a crime with another crime...The death penalty is not a natural death. And no one can give death, not even the state." - Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.


steven andresen said...

Bush's record in Texas told us the kind of thing he would support as President. That is, he would support executions at home and abroad.

I want to remember a piece by Anthony Lewis who wrote,

"...There have been questions all along about the depth and seriousness of George W. Bush. They have been brought into sharp focus now by a surprising issue: the way the death penalty is administered in Texas. In his comments on that subject Governor Bush has defined himself, unforgettably, as shallow and callous.

In his five years as governor of Texas, the state has executed 131 prisoners -- far more than any other state. Mr. Bush has lately granted a stay of execution for the first time, for a DNA test.

In answer to questions about that record, Governor Bush has repeatedly said that he has no qualms. "I'm confident," he said last February, "that every person that has been put to death in Texas under my watch has been guilty of the crime charged, and has had full access to the courts."

I suspect there may have been more to Bush's response, if he had been given more time to prepare. However, about what he did say, I want to say that it is beside the point.

The fact that Saddam Hussein or the people in Texas who were all put to death were guilty of crimes is another question from whether they deserved being killed by the state.

In the case of the prisoners in Texas, the reason it wasn't a good idea may have been, as was pointed out that the Texas criminal court situation is unfair. The chance of people getting a fair trial is not assured.

We could point out, too, how unfair the trial of Saddam Hussein was. First of all, that it was held by the Bush family and Rumsfeld who supported Hussein in his rule of Iraq before the first Gulf War. Second, I think three of Hussein's defense attorneys were assasinated during the trial.

You have to wonder whether Saddam Husseain was executed to shut him up. This fact will make his execution nothing more than a political crime.

The American people are being represented by rulers so compromised that justice from them, for whatever cause, is just not possible.

Simon said...

Steve A,

You have to wonder...

You make no mistake.