31 October 2008

Juris

It really is no wonder that the rest of the world thinks Americans are arrogant.

I have read and heard and seen this everywhere over the last few days.  

The son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., has been convicted of torture, from crimes committed in Liberia.  That's not the problem, that's the good part.  The part that confuses the hell out of me is that he was charged and tried by a court in the United States of America.  

Where the bloody hell do we get jurisdiction over crimes committed in another country, by nationals of said country?

If I recall my lessons in our legal system correctly, in order to have jurisdiction over a case, a court must have some vested interest in the crime.  I.E., it was a crime committed in a particular city, the person charged with the crime lives in a particular township.  This falls far, far, far outside of traditional jurisdictional rules.

From Reuters:

Chuckie Taylor was the first person charged under a law passed in 1994 known as the extraterritorial torture statute, which allows prosecutors to charge a U.S. citizen or someone present in the United States with acts of torture or conspiracy to torture outside the country.

In plain English, then, this law allows American courts to charge non-citizens with crimes not committed in America.  Huh?  How is that legal or possible?

Is what this guy did wrong?  To quote the odious Sarah Palin..."You betcha!"  But this trial makes a mockery of the Human Rights Tribunal in the Hague.  American courts trying non-citizens for crimes not committed in America?  WTF?  That takes away the teeth from organizations like the UNHCR, the Hague courts, and other already existing bodies of judiciary worldwide.

He should be punished for his crimes.  He committed truly evil acts.  I saw this story first on MSN when DH was surfing, heard it on the radio, and then saw it on CNN.  The gory details of what he and his cohorts did disgust me so much that even though there are literally thousands of stories out there on teh interweb that I could link to, I won't, because to read yet another account sickens me so much that I just can't read another one.  

Yes, what he did was wrong.  

Trying him in a court of law in the United States in not the proper redress for those wrongs, though.

2 comments:

MotherMe, who thinks the US has done a crappy job with foreign policy said...

Just wait until someone tries and convicts an American citizen for some infraction on similar grounds. We'd go nuke the heck out of them.

Lucy Arin said...

Right? That's part of my point. "We" would be screaming bloody blue murder over something like this happening to an American citizen.

Where do we get off?