LAHORE: Iraq Government can move International Court of Justice (ICJ) against former US president George W Bush and ex-prime minister of UK Mr Tony Blair to seek reparation for human loss after their public confession that Iraq invasion in 2003 was not justified, say legal experts. Nonetheless, the two leaders could not be tried under war crimes according to the legal minds who also opined that the two did not declare the war themselves as they had the backing of the UN Security Council resolution. 

Thousands of Iraqis lost their lives as a result of US-led war while their president Saddam Hussain was tried for genocide of Kurds and sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. Blair recently said that he was “sorry for the mistake” he made by supporting the Iraq war. Mr Bush had also declared that Iraq invasion was the biggest regret of his presidency.

Former senior judge of the Lahore High Court and former Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum said that both Bush and Blair could not be dubbed war criminals in the terms of the international law because of UN’s involvement into the matter. He said the real victims and the party in this case were the Iraqi people, and as such, the present Iraqi government could move the United Nation or the International Court of Justice against the two leaders but only for the purpose of seeking reparations for the human loss.

Malik Qayyum ruled out the possibility that Iraqi government would tend to move either forum given the American clout and its interests in that country. As to the role of Arab League or OIC, the former judge overruled they could do anything on this issue although the victim was one of the Arab countries. “Under the international law, only the aggrieved state has the right to seek justice at the international court and any resolution from OIC can only put moral pressure,” he argued. But at the same time, Malik maintained, the legality of the UN resolutions on Iraq could be challenged because the world body at that time was misled into passing them through misrepresentation of facts which proved wrong later on.

To a question about the belated confession from Blair on false evidence about the Iraqi WMDs, Malik said his admission might have come for the reason that UK government through its commission was holding investigations into the background and circumstances in which the state supported attack on Iraq. “Before the Commission could establish any adverse opinion about Tony Blair, he might have thought it better to himself come clean on the issue,” he viewed. Asked if any UK family which lost its persons fighting in Iraq could move the court of law after Blair’s statement, he said it was for the UK law to take its course if any provision to this effect was available therein.

Senior advocate Salman Akram Raja did not hold Tony Blair culprit of Iraq invasion. “Blair might have made the regrets out of pricks of the conscience but he cannot be held responsible for the offence of war crime even if the UK’s support to Iraq war took the lives of tens of thousands.” He said that UK government’s decision to support the war was a state decision which meant collective decision of all the relevant persons and not that of only the UK prime minister. For this reason, he added, “Blair’s admission of the mistake to support the US might be judged on moral ground but legally he does not have the liability.”

Senior lawyer and former President Supreme Court Bar Association Abid Hassan Manto opined that all those who ignited Iraq war on sham presumptions were culpable under the international law for war crimes but the moot question was who will take action against these big powers which call shots in the world. “So there will be no material effect of Blair’s statement except his own consolation.”