Could "Shock and Awe" be a war crime?

[JURIST] Lawyers with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] said Friday that US officials involved in military operations against Iraq could be liable for war crimes prosecution for the "Shock and Awe" operation now under way:

A Senior Pentagon official has stated publicly: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad...you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapon at Hiroshima, not in days or weeks but in minutes." The purpose is to "take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days, they are physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausted.".....

According to CCR Legal Director, Jeffrey Fogel, "The laws of war prohibit civilians being targeted and there is a fundamental rule that Parties to the conflict must distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives. Parties must restrict their operations to the targeting of military objectives. The proposed U.S. "shock and awe" strategy fails on all counts and as such constitutes a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute [of the International Criminal Court]."
On the issue of ICC jurisdiction the human rights lawyers said:
Generally, Americans carrying out war crimes may be able to do so without fear of prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC) because one of the pre-conditions to the Court exercising jurisdiction is that the individual concerned be a national of a state that is a Party to the ICC. However, the Court also has jurisdiction over crimes carried out on the territory of a State which is a Party, or onboard a ship or aircraft of a State which is a Party

It has been widely reported that U.S. bombers to be involved in the "shock and awe” strategy are based at the U.S. Air Base on Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean and will be loaded with cruise missiles there for use against Iraq. Diego Garcia is UK territory, which it leases to the U.S. As the UK is a Party to the ICC, crimes under the statute, including war crimes, committed wholly or in part on Diego Garcia fall within the Court’s jurisdiction.
Read the complete text of the CCR press release.


 

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