The Iraqi Prime Minister fired the judge at Saddam Hussein’s trial that refused to control the defendant and then assured the man who wielded absolute power until his 2003 fall that he was not a dictator. Predictably, a number of human-rights activists have erupted in outrage at this “interference” in the trial of the genocidal tyrant:
The firing was condemned by human rights advocates as improper political interference by Mr. Maliki’s government, which is dominated by Shiites and Kurds persecuted during Mr. Hussein’s rule. Human Rights Watch said the firing “sends a chilling message to all judges: toe the line or risk removal.” …
But international human rights groups said the firing undermines the tribunal’s credibility and could influence other judges to favor the prosecution. They also questioned whether the tribunal’s procedures for handling allegations of judicial bias and misconduct were followed.
“This shows the court is not immune from political interference and may be open to being manipulated by public opinion or politicians,” said Hanny Megally, director of the Middle East and North Africa program for the International Center for Transitional Justice, which is an observer in the tribunal.
What the human-rights advocates fail to mention is that Judge Abdullah al-Amiri owes his job to Saddam and his regime, and probably should not have been on the panel at all. Amiri was one of the judges used by Saddam to dictate his rough brand of justice, but apparently Amiri must have convinced the new Iraqi government of his rehabilitation. That dissipated in the bright lights of the most important trials in the Middle East, and his bias towards his previous employer became too obvious to ignore.
Under Iraqi law, the government can remove a judge for any reason it sees fit. Unlike the previous regime, however, the government actually accounts to the people for its actions, and Iraqis can vote them out if they feel Maliki abused this privilege. For the vast majority of voters in the new Iraq, little fault will be found in the expulsion of any jurist who smiles deferentially at their former oppressor and assures him that his bad reputation came from hanging out with the wrong kind of friends.
Why this has human-rights activists tied in knots is beyond me. In any fair trial, both parties should have judges who enter the case with no bias towards either in the case and at least a passing connection to reality. Amiri’s big wet kiss to Saddam showed that he had neither, and he deserved to be ejected. Maybe these activists can save some of their outrage for Saddam instead of the democratically elected government that managed to refrain from finding the nearest high tree when this bloodthirty monster came into their custody.