From Charles I to Charles Taylor
Whenever heads of state go on trial these days – and the phenomenon is becoming increasingly common – you can usually rely on someone to say that the event is unprecedented. In October 2007 a leading human rights organization said that the extradition of the former Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori, to his native country from Chile was ‘the first time that a court has ordered the extradition of a former head of state to be tried for gross human rights violations in his home country.’ The same organization had previously said that the conviction for genocide of Jean Kambanda, the former prime minister of Rwanda, in 1998, was ‘historic’; that the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Yugoslavia, from 2001 to 2006, was ‘ground-breaking’; and that the trial of Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, which started in late 2007, was ‘a break with the past’.1
The reason why such trials are greeted as marking new events is that they are indeed part of a new trend towards military and judicial interventionism, and towards rule by supranational political and judicial institutions. In most cases, recent trials of heads of state have been conducted before those international or partly international tribunals which have proliferated since the end of the Cold War: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY, created in 1993); the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR, created in 1994); the Special Court for Sierra Leone (created in 1996, which organized the trial...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.