Punishment and Mercy


From Reuters: Suspects on run from Yugoslav war crimes tribunal
“Radovan Karadzic, one of the world’s most wanted men, has been arrested and is facing extradition to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on two counts of genocide.”

From the New Zealand Herald: Bosnian Serb war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic arrested
“If Karadzic is extradited, he would be the 44th Serb suspect extradited to the tribunal. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial on war crimes charges.”

Whether or not this man committed these crimes, the importance of this story is that there is an international body that can (like a local judicial department) remand individuals to trial. We can only hope the standard of justice is higher than many local and national tribunals . . .

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is needed for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.”

Some folks, living on a byway of the pacifist movement, feel we shouldn’t have criminal courts. What they propose we do with inveterate abusers of human rights can vary widely from individual to individual.

Here’s what Wikipedia gives as varieties of pacifism:
“Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to the condemnation of force except in cases where it is absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace (pacificism); to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.”

Obviously, some forms of pacifism can tolerate judicial proceedings.

My best analogy for why such institutions are needed is straight from child-rearing.

If a child killed a cat, should the parents just be really extra nice to the kid and refrain from punishing him?

Well, if parents want to protect the cat community, not to mention other humans (there are teens who’ve been sent to prison for murder), it may be the highest form of mercy to use caring but strict punishment…

Do we just look the other way if a human is suspected of murdering thousands of our fellow humans or do we put that individual on trial and, if they’re found guilty, punish them for the sake of the Human Community?

“It is perhaps a truism to say that the exercise of unfettered national sovereignty is a major obstacle to the safeguarding of the human rights of all peoples… Despite the establishment of international standards for human rights, many nations cling to the view that respect for those rights should be granted or withheld at the discretion of national governments.
“A second obstacle is the lack of adequate mechanisms to enforce adherence to the provisions of the Conventions. International human rights standards are not legally binding on all governments, and compliance, even by those states that have ratified specific conventions, is voluntary… In addition, international criminal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and for flagrant violations of internationally recognized human rights should also be invested in a permanent body.”

Bahá’í International Community, 1993, Jun 09, Obstacles to Progress in Human Rights

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments !

Subscribe to the Comments
Like this Blog?
Get a Free Subscription !

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Punishment and Mercy

  1. This arrest is a signficant story for Baha’is, given that the NSA of the US was a founding member of the Washington Working Group for the International Criminal Court (WICC) and the American Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC) and a Baha’i representative serves as co-chair of the Faith & Ethics Network for the ICC.

    I rally appreciate your commentary of using the analogy of responding to the aggressive behavior of children. Working with children and their parents around such issues is what I do for a living.

  2. George,

    So good to see you again!

    Had no idea about the Baha’i connection to this story but, of course, it makes total sense…

    Whew!

    What a challenging profession you have !!!

  3. Pingback: On the Arrest of Karadzic: Significant to Baha’is | Baha'i Views

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s