Justice must be done

2008-05-28 00:00

On Monday Ethiopia’s supreme court sentenced former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam to death, acknowledging the validity of the prosecution’s argument that the life sentence he was given for genocide was inadequate punishment for his crimes.

Despite the overall slowness of international justice, these examples of it must, surely, hearten those still suffering under cruelly repressive regimes. Thus, Zimbabweans may compare the genocidal acts of Mengistu with those of their own president, and recall that in their brutal forays into Matabeleland alone his agents killed and maimed more people than did Mengistu’s in the whole of his reign. Once an oppressor is out of office, whether in cushy exile elsewhere or in well-heeled obscurity at home, those affected and afflicted by his rule need not passively wait and hope for justice to be done, but can be proactive, invoking the law, laying charges and becoming part of the process that will eventually lead to examination of the case by the ICC.

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