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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where Do Exiled Dictators Go?

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, center, and his wife Simone, are seen in the custody of republican forces loyal to election winner Alassane Ouattara at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday, April 11, 2011. (AP)

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, center, and his wife Simone, are seen in the custody of republican forces loyal to election winner Alassane Ouattara at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday, April 11, 2011. (AP)

It used to be that exiled leaders had the option to spend their forced retirement in sunny, exotic places, spending the money they brought with them. But with an increase in prosecutions through the International Criminal Court, ousted leaders have fewer options these days.

International lawyer Scott Horton says leaders who may be looking for a way out, such as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, deposed Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi may find themselves running from the law rather than to a cushy retirement spot.

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  • Anonymous

    Gaddafi could come to the United States. Given the oddity of his views, he has a place on daytime television and radio talk shows.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR

  • Professor Ken Rodman

    I caught the story as I was driving back from the Boston area to my college in Maine, where I teach about this issue and found a few errors in the discussion.

    First, Professor Horton said that Idi Amin fled from Uganda to Saudi Arabia because he needed to go somewhere to escape the International Criminal Court. Idi Amin ruled Uganda from 1971 until he was deposed after the Tanzanian intervention in 1979, after which he fled to Libya and then Saudi Arabia. The International Criminal Court (ICC) did not come into force until July 1, 2002. He could not have fled from the ICC because the court did not exist at that time. Moreover, the ICC would not have had jurisdiction over Amin whether he was in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else since his crimes took place in the 1970s. Under Article 11 (1) of its founding Rome Statue: “The Court has jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute.” It does not exercise retrospective jurisdiction. [This can be found at the ICC website at http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/EA9AEFF7-5752-4F84-BE94-0A655EB30E16/0/Rome_Statute_English.pdf.

    Second, Professor Horton said that Qaddafi was considering exile in Zimbabwe or Uganda since neither was a member of the ICC with an obligation to extradite him to The Hague. This is true of Zimbabwe, but not of Uganda, which is a state party to the ICC [see this link for all state parties to the Rome Statute - http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/states+parties/ and was actually the site of the ICC's first investigation [http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20icc%200204/related%20cases/icc%200204%200105/uganda?lan=en-GB]. It is true that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has a relationship with Qaddafi and there has been some speculation of his providing Qaddafi asylum, but if the ICC issues an arrest warrant for the Libyan President, Museveni would be legally obligated to execute it.

    Third, in the course of the discussion, Robin Young referred to the ICC as the “World Court.” Actually, the World Court is the name of the International Court of Justice, which is also in The Hague. The difference is that the International Court of Justice (the World Court) hears cases involving whether states are fulfilling their obligations under international treaties or customary international law and has no jurisdiction over individuals. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal to asset individual criminal responsibility for the most egregious violations of human rights law and the laws of war.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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