The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, June 14, 2003

Belgium: clearing up after the Rummygram (it's good for the roses!)

Their most famous citizen may be a cartoon boy. but the Belgians aren't completely ga-ga (Le Soir June 14):
Donald Rumsfeld pourrait-il faire marche arrière ? Rumsfeld n'a pas de marche arrière, a répondu le ministre de la Défense [1].

Picking about in the alphabet soup of Belgian party politics needs the application of several cold towels. But the impression I get from the piece is that the mood generally is not quite as antagonistic as the average neocon might suppose it might be amongst a troop of surrender monkeys in the aftermath of receiving a shellacking from the (perfectly uncorked) bat of the Pentagon's clean-up man (and no steroids, either!).

The opposition are looking to water down the compétence universelle law [2]:
On renforcerait les critères de rattachement à la Belgique. On exclurait même toute plainte n'ayant aucun lien avec la Belgique ; lien territorial, lien via une victime ou via un auteur présumé.

And the parties which (when the Belgian parliament meets again) form part of the governing coalition:
Du côté de la future majorité on se tâte. On sait très bien que l'on marche sur des œufs.

The socialist (PS) Philippe Mahoux, is quoted thus:
La Belgique n'a pas la vocation de régler tous les conflits du monde. Mais il faut quand même souligner de grandes avancées en matière de justice internationale : la création de la Cour pénale internationale et le développement de législations, comme la nôtre, pour traquer les tyrans. Il ne faut pas abandonner ces acquis [3].

The new government of Guy Verhofstadt is standing firm: according to Foreign Minister Louis Michel
Modifier encore la loi de compétence universelle serait la vider de sa substance.

Meanwhile, GOB is trying to close down the Sabra/Chatila case, too [4]. Last told, the not-so rose-smelling Sharon was found by the Belgian courts to benefit from immunity from prosecution so long as he remains Israeli prime minister. Leaving co-defendant Amos Yaron in the frame.

Now (Reuters June 13), GOB is moving to transfer the Yaron case to Israel [5]:
Belgian government source told Reuters the Justice Ministry had asked the appeals court for a formal advice, which could take up to two weeks, after which the government will have the final say on whether the case will be moved to Israel.

Asked whether the government would approve the transfer, the source said: "That's the objective".

In my earlier pieces, I cast doubt on whether the revised legislation now in place actually did give the final say to the government.

We'll find out what the law actually means soon enough, at this rate.

  1. André Flahaut.

  2. Loi du 16 juin 1993 (a date that will go down in infamy in some quarters...).

  3. The notion of acquis is inherently a revolting one: slavery, the Ancien Régime, Jim Crow, and the child labour law-killing Fourteenth Amendment were all acquis. But the word and the concept are as deeply seated in the psyche of Old Europe (socialists, most of all!) as syphilis in the 19th century. (A rant for a different occasion, however!).

  4. Work back from my piece of April 29.

  5. Where I dare say they've a wagger-pagger-bagger specially made ready.

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