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We killed the bastard! Let’s party….? May 2, 2011

Posted by Sverre in : Human rights, World politics , 2comments

So, Osama bin Laden is dead. The most hated man in the western hemisphere has been brought down. Justice is served. Or is it? If we take a step back from the thrill of the moment and examine the facts, what has really happened here?

United States’ agents have localized and killed a foreign national on foreign soil, then recovered his body. This man is accused of committing serious crimes against humanity, but no attempt was made to capture him alive and put him on trial. The president of the United States has acted as both prosecutor, judge and jury with the US Navy Seals as executioners. Despite this, President Obama freely owns up to his achievement, without even an attempt at explanation as to why the killing was necessary. Official word from the US Government is also that the mission was to kill It also seems that the aim has been to kill him, not a serious attempt to capture. And the rest of the western nations applaude. Including Norway’s prime and foreign ministers. And the people of the United States (and to a lesser degree in Europe as well) celebrate. Celebrate the killing of another human being.

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Law without ethics? February 10, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Human rights , 1 comment so far

The Norwegian weekly newspaper Morgenbladet brings a thought-provoking piece this week by professor Hans Petter Graver, dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. In a recent book by novelist Kjartan Fløgstad, the way the law profession went into the service of Nazi Germany is put in a very bad light.

Professor Graver, far from leaping to the defense of his profession actually defends the depiction by Fløgstad, even giving it current relevance by drawing parallels between the reinterpretation of German law to accomodate Nazism and the reinterpretation of American law under Bush to legitimize coercive interrogation techniques such as “waterboarding” or even hitting a detainee in the face or stomach.

He points to a dangerous tendency within his own profession not to take a moral stand, insist there are two sides to every issue and be servile to government. This may be done under the guise of a neutrality necessary for preserving the rule of law even under bad regimes, but it requires ignoring the original intent of the law, ripping the very foundation out from under the system in the process. There are good examples of the law profession participating in the defense against external enemies, but in defending the rule of law against perversion by internal enemies, the historical record is not very good.

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