Cotler: 'Try Ahmadinejad for genocide calls'

Ahmadinejad's actions prove he's guilty of incitement to genocide, former Canadian justice minister says.

Irwin cotler 224.88 (photo credit: )
Irwin cotler 224.88
(photo credit: )
Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler on Monday called on the world community to act against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before he carries out his threats of genocide against Israel. Cotler spoke at the opening session of a conference at the Interdisciplinary College, Herzliya, on "Human Rights and Security." The speakers included Professors Amnon Rubinstein, Alan Dershowitz and Aharon Barak. Ahmadinejad's actions proved he was guilty of incitement to genocide, Cotler said, and should be stopped before he had the chance to carry out his plans. "There is more evidence on a factual basis with respect to the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide in Ahmadinejad's Iran than we had with regard to [a Rwandan convicted of incitement to genocide in Canada,]" said Cotler. "So that gives you a sense therefore, of how the principles and precedents on both matters of fact and conclusion of law feed into Iran, where what you have today is the toxic convergence of the advocacy of the most horrific of crimes, namely genocide, embedded in the most virulent of ideologies, namely anti-Semitism, dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem with the words, 'Wipe Israel off the map, as the imam says,' proving that this is state sanctioned incitement to genocide." Cotler presented several case studies of rulings by an international court that convicted Rwandans, including a former prime minister, of incitement to genocide in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi tribesmen. In convicting them, the court invoked the United Nations Genocide Convention, which established the criteria for proving state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, including intentionality, public calls for genocide and direct incitement by use of euphemisms and dehumanizing language. Cotler's call for preventive action through diplomatic measures (the remedies that he mentioned referred to action in the United Nations by parties to the Genocide Convention) followed a speech by Dershowitz. Dershowitz said that the world was facing a new threat in the form of suicidal terrorism and that a new jurisprudence had to be developed to cope with this threat. Until now, he said, international law, like criminal law, had dealt with threats through deterrence, including reactive punishment, that is, punishment of crimes after they are committed. However, the reactive model was based on assumptions such as that the party that was being deterred was rational and capable of cost-benefit analysis, that he did not want to die, that he was capable of conforming to rules, and that the other party, that is the potential victim, was capable of surviving the first blow. According to Dershowitz, "All these assumptions have been challenged by suicide terrorism." He pointed to the "culture of suicide" of the new terrorism, using as an example a statement made by former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Dershowitz quoted Rafsanjani as contemplating a nuclear war between Israel and Iran that the Iranians would win, even though many millions would be killed, because there were more Muslims than Jews. "The availability of weapons of mass destruction to suicide terrorists denies us the ability to absorb the first blow and requires us to think more preventively than reactively," Dershowitz said. Even today, he said, nations responded preventively. However, there was no appropriate jurisprudence and therefore no guidelines, restrictions or moral constraints on these type of attacks. "It's important how we think about reshaping jurisprudence," Dershowitz continued. "We have a well established jurisprudence in the area of deterrents. We believe it is better for 10 guilty to go free than for one innocent to be wrongly confined. We have no comparable jurisprudence in the area of prevention or pre-emption. For example, is it really better for 10 potential terrorists to go free than for one wrongfully suspected terrorist to be detained? Well I guess it depends for how long he is being detained, where he is being detained, what the level of proof is against him is."