Wave of War Crime Arrests

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This seems to be the year for war crime probes, arrests and trials. From South America to Africa in the last few weeks and months there have been a slew of high profile arrests.

gIn Guatemala former general Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes has been charged with ordering the killing of more than 10,000 people of Mayan descent in the early 1980s. As the head of the army Fuentes would have signed the warrants that made up the heart of the ‘scorched earth’ policy mandated by Efrain Rios Montt, then president of the country. No effort was made to bring these criminals to justice during the 1990s and 2000s, so survivors applied to Spanish courts to have the crimes prosecuted. This battle is still on-going, but the one against Fuentes has begun to snowball.

Goran Hadzic was captured on July 20, 2011 in a small village in northern Serbia and now stands before the United Nation’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. Hadzic was the last of the 161 military and political leaders of the war in the Balkans indicted by the tribunal to be seized. He has not pled in court in response to the 14 counts against him. His alleged crimes include destruction of the town of Vukovar and the seizure of 260 patients of the hospital there, who were taken to a farm close by to be tortured and killed. Hadzic was the last person that needed to be tried by the UN tribunal, but many more still need to be prosecuted by national courts.

The Ivory Coast is setting up a commission of inquiry to deal with war crimes that occurred in the wake of the most recent election. Violence erupted in the African nation when the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to accept his loss to Alassane Ouattara. This commission will have six months to discover the truth of the violence and who perpetrated it, and take action where necessary to bring criminals to justice. The International Criminal Court has also started preliminary work on the same subject.

Three suspected war criminals have been arrested in Canada, where the federal government has launched a website listing information and pictures of 30 suspects who they say are in Canada illegally. Manuel de la Torre Herrera has followed Arshad Muhammad and Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez into custody on July 25, 2011. The website has come under fire itself, as it states that “It has been determined that [these suspects] violated human or international rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act or under international law.” This statement presumes each suspect is guilty while none have ever stood before a court on these charges.

The Welfare State

People in developed countries take for granted today the government-backed security net that exists. This is a relatively new phenomenon in history, and yet it seems like the cycle of its popularity is already coming to an end. Here we will outline the rise of the welfare state as well as the three models that exist today of welfare states, the criticisms from various sources of the models and the potential future of popularity of the welfare state as a concept. Continue reading ‘The Welfare State.’

Canada: The New America?

There has been a sharp change in the nature of Canadian politics over the last few years. Canada’s political scene has been typified by a politeness and respect not found in many other developed nations. It was a cross between Britain without the heckling in parliament and America without the sharp contrasts in policy. And Stephen Harper has been the one to change all that.

Starting in 2006, and continuing through the 2011 elections campaign, Canadians saw for the first time serious attack ads coming from the Conservative Party. These were followed, no less, by similar responses from the Liberals and NDP. These attack ads take comments out of context and target personal traits and faults in MPs and party leaders. Mostly, they are a tool of fear-mongering politicians to convince voters that the world will end if the other side gets into power. Attack ads are the sign of weakness of a party (and I am pointing fingers at all Canadian parties here), they are done based on a fear that when policies line up there will not be enough to differentiate one from one’s opponent. Continue reading ‘Canada: The New America?.’

CPP: A Ponzi Scheme?

The Canadian Pension Plan is one of the sacred cows of Canadian politics and identity. It was designed with the idea in mind that no person would ever have to live in poverty, while ensuring that the government would not have to completely foot the bill. Essentially it’s a savings plan that has been forced on the country. Although the CPP has been a cornerstone of Canadian life, it is increasingly growing in resemblance to a Ponzi scheme. Continue reading ‘CPP: A Ponzi Scheme?.’

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