06 August, 2010

Blood exports

The appearance of super-model Naomi Campbell at the trial in The Hague of Charles Taylor seems to have attracted public interest where there would otherwise have been none. Let’s hope it is for the better; so far the prosecution who subpoena-ed her to testify have now rejected her as a witness..

I must say Nelson Mandela has interesting dinner parties: the invitees on the evening in question appear to have included Mia Farrow, Naomi Campbell as token celebrities and Charles Taylor as token genocidist. Perhaps Bob Geldof and Radovan Karadzic were there too. Miss Campbell claims she had not spoken to Mr Taylor and had never heard of him or of Liberia, which after a moment’s listening to her is believable. Anyway two men came to her door that night as she slept, she opened it, as you do, and received a pouch containing ‘some dirty pebbles’.

I am really not sure about war crimes trials. We know that there was a lot of cruelty and murder in Sierra Leone but suppose for a minute the rebels being financed had been freedom loving democrats; Mr Taylor would have been applauded for selling them weaponry. And Liberia can sell arms to whom it likes, can’t it? Britain certainly does. And dealing in ‘blood diamonds’ has never been a crime: it has been limited by international agreement, the Kimberley Process, in 2000, some years after Mr Taylor’s alleged dealings. Note that the Kimberley Process allows exports from Zimbabwe.

So if something good does come of all this, the trial of a president of a sovereign nation, the silliness of a supermodel whining that she really found it rather inconvenient to turn up, I don’t suppose it will be much in the way of natural justice. If it attracts international attention on how evil regimes are maintained in power through trade, it might be something. I would begin with the shipload of Chinese armaments found last year trying to get to Zimbabwe to prop up Mugabe, in return for diamonds and minerals (‘blood minerals’) and perhaps go on to the shipments of timber by the evil regime in Burma, again to China, in return for weapons to repress the people (‘blood wood’).

But it’s easier to get hold of a little fellow like Charles Taylor.

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