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Extrajudicial killings exclude justice, by definition.

By Alan Austin - posted Monday, 2 May 2011

The killing of Osama Bin laden will titillate news consumers, foment American jingoism and almost certainly ensure the re-election of Barrack Obama. But it will not enhance American security, nor make the world a better place. The opposite is true.

'Justice has been done,' declared US President Barack Obama from the White House on Monday night. The killing of Osama Bin Laden was not justice. It was an illegal execution without trial. It was murder. It will lead to further death and destruction.

That is certainly the view of some here in Europe, including Anneli Hautala the Finnish chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament. Ms Hautala immediately questioned 'la nécessité qu'il y avait de le tuer' - the need to have killed Bin Laden rather than to have effected his capture.


The murder of Bin Laden was not an act of bravery or heroism. It was a continuation of the senseless barbarity that characterised the infamous attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 and the many illegal invasions and attacks by the US that preceded this outrage.

'Tonight, I called (Pakistan's) President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts,' Obama said. 'They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.'

Monday was a good and historic day only for those who support terrorism over justice and murder over fair trial. Had Bin Laden had been captured, charged and tried by a competent tribunal which weighed the evidence for and against those charges, the interests of global justice may have been served. But this is not the Pakistani or American way.

It has not been Pakistan's or America's way for some time. Both rogue nations have spurned international conventions to pursue their own forms of retribution. In so doing both have done profound damage to world peace and security.

Under Zardari's rule, the Pakistani army has carried out 238 extrajudicial killings of people in the Swat Valley since last September, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

HRW documents cases where Pakistani troops took away suspects, whose bodies were later found mutilated – killed without trial other than torture.


But Pakistani extra-judicial killings are small time in comparison with the US. The CIA has now been found to have plotted the killing of Dominican Republic president Rafael Trujillo in 1961 and to have murdered many other leaders of movements the US has perceived to be hostile to American economic or political interests.

We will soon know for sure how democratically-elected Marxist president of Chile Salvador Allende was killed in the CIA-backed coup in 1973. In February, a Chilean judge ordered the exhumation of Allende's body to determine the actual cause of his death.

Some of the methods currently used by the CIA to murder suspected terrorists were revealed by Newsweek in February. Human rights organisation Reprieve claims that up to 2,283 people have been murdered by the US since 2004 with as many as 730 victims 'wholly innocent'.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in Nīmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Television’s religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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