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January 03, 2007

New UN Head Defends Saddam Execution

Princeton can use a man like Ban Ki Moon.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said Tuesday that Iraq and other countries have the right to impose the death penalty, adding that the world should never forget Saddam Hussein’s “heinous crimes.”

Ban’s first public reaction to Hussein’s execution signaled a sharp break from his predecessor, Kofi Annan, an ardent death-penalty critic who opposed U.N. participation in the Iraqi war crimes tribunal that sentenced Hussein to die. Human rights advocates expressed concern that Ban’s comments lend credibility to what they see as a flawed trial of the former Iraqi leader, and complained that he could set back efforts to abolish the death penalty.

The remarks suggest that the former South Korean foreign minister, who began a five- year term on Monday, would defer to the United Nations’ 192 member states on some of the day’s most controversial and unsettled issues. Nearly 70 countries, including the United States and South Korea, retain the death penalty.

“Saddam Hussein was responsible for committing heinous crimes and unspeakable atrocities against the Iraqi people,” Ban said in his first news conference as secretary general. “The issue of capital punishment is for each and every member state to decide.”

Full article and round-up of blog reactions at the link.


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