UN rapporteur Scheinin: Killing bin Laden was legal
Martin Scheinin, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, has said that the operation conducted by the United States in which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed was a lawful operation.
Scheinin, a Finnish legal expert, has voiced criticism of the war on terror on a number of occasions. Now he says that killing bin Laden did not violate international law. In his view, the operation boosts international law because the USA operated within the rules.
“The United States offered bin Laden the possibility to surrender, but he refused. Bin Laden would have avoided destruction if he had raised a white flag”, Scheinin said on Tuesday.
According to Scheinin, apprehending a dangerous criminal like Osama bin Laden means that one must be prepared to use force. He noted that killing is permissible under international law only if the person being apprehended resists, and if there are no other means available.
Scheinin said that the United States was prepared for the possibility of catching bin Laden alive, noting that the operation involved a commando raid on his hiding place, and not a missile strike.
Another Finnish legal expert, Lauri Hannikainen, Professor Emeritus of International Law, notes that there was a strong mandate from the international community for the apprehension of bin Laden, as the UN Security Council had passed a resolution justifying extensive action against the terrorist leader.
If the commandos had detained bin Laden, he would probably have been sent to the US prison camp in Guantánamo to be put before a military tribunal.
While the US acted legally in killing bin Laden, Scheinin notes that some of the intelligence information that led to his capture was acquired by the use of torture.
The New York Times writes that US intelligence officials got information out of two suspected terrorists who are close to bin Laden. The two were interrogated in Guantánamo in 2007.
The Associated Press reports that one of the sources was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the planners of the September 11th attacks, who had been subjected to the torture method known as waterboarding on several occasions.
Previously in HS International Edition:
COMMENTARY: Europe was key target of Osama bin Laden (3.5.2011)
BREAKING NEWS: Stubb says page turned in battle against terrorism (2.5.2011)
New SUPO chief has “cautiously positive” reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death (4.5.2011)