Vancouver legal experts applaud reward offer for citizen's arrest of Tony Blair

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      Two Vancouver legal experts have given a thumbs-up to U.K.-based Guardian columnist George Monbiot’s offer of a bounty for a citizen’s arrest of former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair.

      “Well, speaking within the British context, with the British police being in most instances quite respectful of citizen rights—including in most instances not carrying arms—yes, I think it is a brilliant idea,” Michael Byers, the Canada research chair in global politics and international law at UBC, told the Straight by phone. “I wouldn’t want to recommend someone in another country with less historic respect for citizens’ rights to try this, because the police might react excessively. But certainly in the U.K., George Monbiot has thought this out, and the recommendations I think are quite reasonable.”

      On the Web site Arrest Blair, Monbiot announces a reward for “a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former British prime minister”. Monbiot pledged the first 100 pounds (about $170) from his own pocket. By today (January 28), the bounty had grown to 9,432 pounds based on pledges. Monbiot alleges on the site that Blair is responsible for war crimes and should be tried in the International Criminal Court.

      To do this, Monbiot adds, citizens should attempt a peaceful and non-violent arrest that, while being largely “symbolic”, will qualify for a reward if it is picked up by a mainstream media outlet. The reward is described as “one quarter of the total pot at the time of application”.

      “So yes, I think there is a strong case against Mr. Blair for the crime of aggression,” said Byers, who wrote a 2005 book called War Law on the legality of the Iraq invasion. “The crime of aggression did not make it into the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court because of a lack of agreement among negotiating states, but it is still part of customary international law and exists in the statute books of several countries. So yes, without saying definitively that Blair is guilty, there is a case to be answered. Certainly, from a purely legal perspective, he is open to arrest and prosecution.”

      Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson, cofounder of Lawyers Against the War, also thinks the bounty offer is a good idea.

      “People certainly respond to the arrest factor,” Davidson said by phone. “For instance [U.S. law professor and international justice advocate] Francis Boyle just filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court last week....He filed a criminal complaint against various people in the Bush administration for extraordinary rendition with the International Criminal Court. He asked for the issuance for international arrest warrants against Bush, Cheney, [then CIA director] George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, [former U.S. attorney general] Alberto Gonzalez...a whole bunch of people. And because he asked for international arrest warrants, that takes people’s attention.”

      On Friday (January 29), Blair will give evidence at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, which was struck by current U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown last June.

      Though Monbiot has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the inquiry in bringing alleged war criminals to justice, Davidson said it too has a role to play as so many people have agreed to give testimony. Davidson also said LAW is trying to submit the same brief to the inquiry that it sent around prior to the 2003 invasion.

      “Lawyers Against the War sent a really good legal brief—not a little letter but a legal brief—outlining why the invasion of Iraq would be completely and utterly illegal without another authorizing [UN Security Council] resolution,” Davidson said of the earlier submission. “We sent that to various members of the Blair administration, including Tony Blair and [then U.K. attorney general] Mr. [Lord] Goldsmith. And we sent it to the Bush administration, and so I am going to try and get evidence before the Chilcot commission that we sent that to them, and so they had more notice.”




      Jan 29, 2010 at 6:13am

      To launch a war of international aggression is the greatest possible crime. In it, are included virtually all other crimes - murder, willful destruction of property, violation of all human rights, etc. The Bush and Blair administration committed these offences when they invaded Iraq, resulting in the death of over one million people, and countless other hardships, including torture, displacement of millions, etc. If these war criminals are exempted from trial for their crimes, then the legal systems of all countries and the international legal order will be held in dishonor, and lose credibility. We are expected to buy into the draconian state responses to alleged individual and small scale "terrorism" attempts in terms of mass arrests, torture, suspension of habeas corpus, extraordinary rendition, offshore detention facilities, obscene expenditures, no fly lists, full body scanners, universal surveillance, etc., but at the same time we are expected to turn a blind eye to wholesale slaughter of people and gross war crimes by "elected" officials. This monstrous hypocrisy is the greatest offence against justice of our time, and until it is adressed in law, our societies are corrupt at their very core.

      Anthony J. Hall

      Jan 29, 2010 at 5:40pm

      Perhaps you might also cover the attempt already made to conduct a citizen's arrest of credibly accused war criminal George Bush in Calgary. The trial of Splitting The Sky, who lives in Chase BC, will take place this March. Cynthia McKinney and Ramsay Clark are scheduled to attend. See

      Anthony J. Hall
      Professor of Globalization Studies
      University of Lethbridge

      DJ BALL

      Jan 29, 2010 at 6:22pm

      @ Strategis -Totally agree.

      Blair is a war criminal, everyone on the planet knew the WMD story was bogus hence the world's largest anti-war protests.
      Everyone on the planet outside of Fox News fans knew Tony Blair and Bush Cheney et al. were on the wrong side of the law and were guilty of war crimes.
      A whitewash show trial isn't good enough.


      Last year a brave mohawk activist named Splitting The Sky attempted a citizens arrest on George W Bush in Calgary.

      STS symbolically attempted to cross the police line and was beaten by the Police for his efforts and now has a trial coming up soon.
      This man needs EVERYONE'S SUPPORT !!
      Share his story, send him some funds and support a man brave enough to stand up against evil.

      T Black

      Jan 29, 2010 at 8:43pm
      January 27, 2010
      International arrest warrants have been requested for George W. Bush, Richard (Dick) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales at the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Professor of Law Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champain, United States of America, has issued a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court against the above-mentioned for their practice of “extraordinary rendition” (forced disappearance of persons and subsequent torture) in Iraq and for criminal policy which constitutes Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute which set up the ICC. As such, the Accused (mentioned above) are deemed responsible for the commission of crimes within the territories of many States signatories of the Rome Statute, in violation of Rome Statute Articles 5 (1)(b), 7 (1)(a), 7 (1)(e), 7 (1)(g), 7(1)(h), 7(1)8i) and 7(1)(k). Despite the fact that the USA is not a signatory State, the ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute under Article 12 (2)(a) of the Rome Statute. This Article stipulates that the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more States in which the conduct in question occurred has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. Furthermore, the forced disappearance of persons and torture in deemed by the Rome Statute as a Crime against Humanity, one which is still ongoing. The Exercise of Jurisdiction may be activated under Article 13, with respect to a crime committed under Article 5 if the Prosecutor has initiated an investigation. Professor Boyle, in his issue of complaint, respectfully requested that such an investigation be initiated. The issue of complaint states “about 100 human beings have been subjected to enforced disappearances and subsequent torture by the Accused”, adds that some of them could still be alive today, and that an investigation could save these lives. Regarding those whose enforced disappearances led to their deaths, the Complaint requests a process of explanation and clarification for what would be a murder investigation.


      Jan 31, 2010 at 12:46pm

      There is a sale of new tinfoil hats at Walmart.