Hussein’s Case Won’t Bolster International Human Rights Law, Experts Fear

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Saddam Hussein is one of the few modern leaders to have been tried and executed for his crimes and other abuses of power. Most dictators of the past century have died of natural causes at home or in comfortable exile — or at the hands of assassins.

But with trials of former leaders becoming more common in the past decade, there are other distinguishing features in the Hussein case: he was the first former leader to be tried by a domestic court for crimes against humanity — a crime enshrined in international law — and put to death for it.

His dawn hanging on Saturday further stands out because the new international legal institutions, like the International Criminal Court and the temporary tribunals that are trying war crimes cases in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, do not impose the death penalty.

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