PINOCHET WILL never pay the full penalty for his monstrous crimes. He deserves to be punished not just for what he did but as an example to other cruel dictators. There is still another court battle to be fought before he is extradited. But the crucial decision will lie with the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. The Mirror has criticised Mr Straw for a number of recent mistakes. But we are sure he will not stumble this time. He will send Augusto Pinochet to Spain, to face trial for just a few of the terrible crimes of his regime.
THE RULING constitutes a triumph for the thesis argued by our country, leaving in place the juridical sovereignty of each state. To establish the exception regarding charges of torture post-December 1988, the Law Lords had to force the letter of the relevant convention. Prospects seem good for senator Pinochet to return shortly, in any case within the year. But the government of the republic must take sustained and vigorous action, diplomatically and politically, to achieve this.
IT'S OBVIOUS that the General cannot now be tried for the thousands of murders committed by his regime during the Seventies. But the British judges have established the principle that crimes of state cannot remain unpunished. That is the important thing. Henceforth, any tyrant or mass murderer can be put on trial. That is an enormous legal, ethical and political triumph. The ruling has reconciled with law and justice.
THE LAW Lords have now made the law on torture admirably clear. It accords with a common-sense view of what the international treaty intended; and if it were to do no more than put London off limits for despots, that would still send a ringing declaration to the world.
TODAY CHILE faces a hard challenge. In coming months it must keep fighting to prevent our political transition to full democracy from being affected. It must also keep defending the principles of juridical territoriality. And, a possible nightmare, it must govern with the figure of Augusto Pinochet at the centre of the stage, in an election year.
PINOCHET'S SUPPORTERS must admit that he was subjected to an impeccable legal process, backed by all the guarantees that he denied his victims. Yesterday's ruling imposed a compromise formula between the United Nations and Spanish and British legislation. It also made progress towards an irreversible change in the framework of international law, which now recognises that political dignity must be preceded by human dignity. If today some realpolitik can still be invoked, it is for the scrupulous respect for the person. Because it is no longer realistic to believe that order is possible without justice.
THIS JUDGMENT reverses the trend under which British courts have increasingly recognised their obligation to international law and the protection of human rights. The suppression of crimes against humanity is a duty which should be shared by all courts. It is time for ministers to take another look at our extradition procedures in this new world of international obligation. World opinion has moved on since the laws were first drafted. The air of impunity which once surrounded ex-dictators is evaporating.Reuse content