Please congratulate the troops on the ground for “bringing Zarqawi
to justice”, said US President George W Bush speaking from Camp David
on 12 June. But as far as I can see, the only
“justice” to which Zarqawi was brought is Old Testament (or perhaps
wild west) “justice”, in the hands of his Maker (should you be so
inclined to believe). Certainly Zarqawi
was not brought to any civilised, democratic form of justice such as
has been recognised
in Australia or other “democratic” countries for hundreds of
years. But why not?

It has astounded me that, in all of the
media reports since Zarqawi’s assassination, no-one has asked why no attempt
was made to arrest him. If the US knew
where he was and was able to locate troops sufficiently close to his safe house
that they could administer first aid to Zarqawi immediately after the bombing,
why was no attempt made to arrest him? Such an attempt might have spared the lives of the apparently innocent
woman and child “collaterally damaged” in the bombing.

Have we, both as a nation and as a member
of the “Coalition of the Willing”, so lost sight of the Rule of Law
that we do not even think to challenge the Bush regime for this extra-judicial
killing? Our Foreign Minister smiled with
positive joy at the result. No doubt al-Qaeda did as well – the US and its allies had just illustrated the
kind of behaviour which al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations charge as hypocritical
and corrupt.

Magna Carta,
issued in 1215, says:

No free
man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or
outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we
proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful
judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

The fifth
amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791, provides:

No person
shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a
presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land
or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or
public danger; … nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law …

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, provides:

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in
barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of
a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and
freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the
common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as
a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights
should be protected by the rule of law…

Now, therefore, The General Assembly, proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard
of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every
individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in
mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these
rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to
secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the
peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under
their jurisdiction…

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person…

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an
independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and
obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent
until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all
the guarantees necessary for his defence.

These are the
principles for which our forefathers stood, fought and died. These are the lessons learnt from a more
barbaric and tyrannical history. These
are the foundations of the free and democratic lives we lead today. Our Foreign
Minister smiles and our political leaders pat each other on the back as these
principles are abandoned. And the fourth
estate does not even ask the question.

Well may Zarqawi
have been an evil murderer deserving of his fate. But the method of his delivery – not to
mention the collateral loss of innocent lives – diminishes us.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey