International injustice

Posted: Feb 14, 2003 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nice folks who run "World Government" at the United Nations have impeccable timing. Last week, while the United States was trying to drag the Security Council, kicking and screaming, into acting on Iraq's colossal violations of international law, the United Nation's International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands was ordering the United States to ignore its own laws and stay the executions of convicted killers. The premise of the order: carrying out the sentence imposed on three Mexican murderers would cause "irreparable damage" to their human rights. Set aside for a moment that these three men -- Cesar Fierro, Roberto Ramos and Osvaldo Aguilera -- entered the United States illegally. Forget that they committed heinous homicides against American citizens. Ignore that all were apprehended, charged, provided with competent counsel at taxpayer expense and tried with due process in courtrooms where they enjoyed the same constitutional protections enjoyed by American citizens -- to include automatic appeals after conviction. Those aren't the issues here. The 15 "independent magistrates" of the ICJ don't care about any of that. They don't even allege that the men didn't get a fair trial. What matters to this unelected, unaccountable international body of jurists is the sentence. They don't like capital punishment. And even more alarmingly, they apparently don't care much for national sovereignty, either. In his addendum to the ruling, one of the World Court's luminaries, Judge Shigeru Oda of Japan, acknowledged that their unanimous decision was based on "international abhorrence of capital punishment." That's fine. There are many of us who want to see the death penalty abolished in America. But that's not up to the United Nations or 15 nice folks from as many countries sitting around in black robes and powdered wigs in The Hague. Yet, this same jurist also wrote, "If the International Court of Justice interferes in a State's criminal law system, it fails to respect the sovereignty of the State and places itself on a par with the supreme court of the state," and then voted for the measure anyway. Welcome to Kofi Annan's dream of a New World Order. The brilliant barristers of the ICJ, led by the highly esteemed Shi Jiuong of Communist China, now demand that the United States "take all measures necessary" to ensure that these three Mexican murderers are not executed pending a "final judgment" from the Netherlands -- and further, that the United States "inform the court of all measures taken in implementation of this order." American advocates for abolishing the death penalty that cheered the ICJ ruling apparently forgot -- as did the eminent lawyers who sit on the "World Court" bench -- that our Constitution provides no mechanism for the federal government to intervene in stopping the executions. And what of the governors of Texas and Oklahoma, where the three murderers now sit on death row? If they carry out the laws of their sovereign states and execute these convicts, will they join Slobodan Milosevic in the dock for violating the World Court's order? Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that they won't. The burdensome hand of "International Justice" weighs increasingly heavy on the United States and U.S. citizens because too often in the past we have granted this "globalist" entity more credibility than it deserves. On Nov. 4, 1979, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by Islamic militants and more than 70 Americans were taken hostage. In retaliation, President Jimmy Carter deployed -- not the U.S. Marines -- but a phalanx of State Department lawyers. Instead of launching air strikes on the Revolutionary Guards Headquarters in Tehran, he fired off a salvo of legal briefs with the International Court of Justice in The Hague. After lengthy deliberations, the ICJ issued a ruling: the United States and Iran "should not take any action and should ensure that no action is taken which may aggravate the tension between the two countries or render the existing dispute more difficult of solution." The result: 444 days of captivity and national humiliation. From 2000 to 2001, the world cheered when two of Muammar Ghadaffi's Libyan terrorist goons were tried before a specially assembled tribunal -- convened under the auspices of the ICJ -- for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The outcome -- a conviction and an exoneration -- can hardly be called justice. Today, 15 years after the terrible event, the families of the 270 who were killed still await restitution. And now, with U.S. forces on the brink of war in Iraq, thanks to the encouragement and agreement of the Clinton administration, a host of lawyers is waiting in the wings to file cases before yet another "instrument of international justice," the International Criminal Court. Even before the first shots have been fired, lawyers from more than a half dozen countries are jostling for position in The Hague, hoping to file the first brief -- not against Saddam Hussein, but against U.S. officials. Military officers commanding soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines shouldn't have to hire lawyers before a gunfight. When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, 10 of the 27 offenses in his bill of particulars against King George III dealt with interference in our judicial system. Those righteous judges of the ICJ need to be reminded that we deemed those transgressions to be so unbearable that we declared ourselves to be free and independent, and fought for more than five years to become separate and sovereign. And we would do well to recall the question Paul posed in his first letter to the church in Corinth: "Why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience?"