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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 12:18 GMT
Should the al-Qaeda suspects be sent to the US?
The challenge of bringing international criminals to justice is often complicated by differences in judical systems around the world and complicated extradition procedures.

Several al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Spain have not been handed over to the US because of the issue of the death penalty.

The European Human Rights Convention forbids the extradition of suspects to countries that have capital punishment. But extradition is possible when the requesting country agrees not to pass the death sentence.

Should the severity of the September 11 attacks override legal obstacles to the transfer of suspects to the US?

Or should they be tried in an international court like those set up to try war criminals?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The next South Asia Debate will take place on January 10th 2002.

Your reaction

Yes, I do believe that the al-Qaeda suspects should be sent to the USA to face trial. The very fact that they joined Osama Bin Laden to carry out crimes against humanity all over the world is enough to put them on trial. I extend complete support to the US laws regarding death penalty to al-Qaeda members on specific charges. The European leaders should not bring in the issue of European Human Rights Convention.These terrorists take undue advantage of the humane and respect to human life clauses prevailing in the laws of the civilised world. However, such kindness need not be shown to those who love killing innocent people, the world over.
Umesh O. Bali, India

Terrorists pose a threat to world stability, not just to the country and people that they terrorize. While I support the US response to al-Qaeda and the Taleban in Afghanistan; I do not believe that the US should be the agent of administering legal justice; this should be administered through the Hague or another court made up by members of the United Nations.
Robert E. Guilbault, USA

I honestly believe that there are many misled souls among the ranks of the Al-Qaeda . If they can be guided to see the error of Al-Qaeda's ways by engaging them in a religious dialogue with Muslim clerics. We may gain a valuable road map and weapon in the war against terrorism.
Y.Q.A, Kuwait

Extradition in the case of a terrorist, a person who has no concept of international laws or agreements, except to use them for his own ends, should have NO RIGHTS! Extradition in the case of a terrorist should be only a formality. Unfortunately, they will receive a full defence within the law of the US. Extradition is not called for unless guilt is pretty certain. They will have every opportunity to prove innocence when tried within the US.
Peter W. Pearce (Capt REME Retd), USA

Define the meaning of the word terrorist before deciding on the fate of the terrorist. If defined properly, the Americans and British would be classed as terrorists due to the Iraqi situation, the Israelis would be defined as terrorists due to the Palestinian situation, the Saudis too would be declared terrorists due to the treatment of their own people. Without a proper definition of the word terrorist no true justice could prevail.
Mohammed Arif, England

If the US decides to put these terrorists to death, there is a fear that there might be some kind of retaliation. Best thing to do is keep then in a cold windowless jail for a very long time.
Ahmed, UK

Killing a terrorist is the most reliable statistic in a war against terrorism. However it is not always the most effective one. Terrorists are not born. They are the manifestation of a social problem, whether it is religiously biased fanaticism, proxies in a state sponsored war or misguided political ideologists. To equate a foot soldier like an Afghan Taleban with Osama Bin Laden himself or the fanatical Muslim cleric preaching hate would be improper.
Rajiv, USA

Treat them same as you would treat any criminal. They want to show themselves as someone special and if you treat them any differently they will play on it to show that it actually is a clash of civilisations!!

I would like to see an international tribunal set up for people considered to be international terrorists

Dionisio Babo Soares, East Timor
I would like to see an international tribunal set up for people considered to be international terrorists. While terrorism within a country might be dealt with by the local legal system, a specific case like Osama Bin Laden (al-Quaeda) should be tried in an International Tribunal since it is believed that a trial in the US will not guarantee a "fair" trial and will only raise suspicous and anti US sentiment in other parts of the world.
Dionisio Babo Soares, East Timor

Just what gives the U.S.A the right to put on trial those fighting or having fought in Afganistan. What of their own 'accidental, civilian, collateral damage, deaths'? Do we put their airmen on trial in Afganistan? Just how is justice dispensed? But of course, justice is dispensed by the land of the free and home of the brave, and now it looks like it will be administered there as well. I sympathise and my heart goes out to those victims of the September 11 attacks, but please let's learn something from it. If not, then like in Rome we will only be giving the Barbarians another reason to attack again.
Paul Harris, Colombia

All terrorists should be condemned to death as soon as possible. Why are we wasting so much effort on criminals who are putting innocents in fear and risk on a daily basis? There is so much injustice in the idealistic thinking of human rights for terrorists. Where is the justice for the innocents and their relatives/friends who will suffer for the rest of their lives due to the terrorists' barbarism?
Ricky Tan, Singapore

To Mohammed Farah: I don't understand your meaning. If members of al-Qaeda are not terrorists then what are they doing in that group? It doesn't matter whether they were involved in the events of September 11th or not, they are still terrorists. And for all terrorists, there is only one fate: send them to hell.
Shyamal Shah, USA

It is certain that they will all be put to death

Mohamed Farah, London, UK
Al-Qaeda members should not be extradited to the US because, in light of current events, it is certain that they will all be put to death whether they are guilty or not. Donald Rumsfeld has reiterated on many occasions that he would be very happy to see all al-Qaeda members killed regardless of their guilt and that is the line the current US administration is pursuing following their bombardment on Mazar-e-Sharif prison in which they killed more than five hundred prisoners.
Mohamed Farah, London, UK

Being an advocate of the death penalty - "Take a life, lose your life" - I see no problem with handing them over to the US but only after their guilt is proven beyond any doubt.
Victor D, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

11 Dec 01 | Americas
Ashcroft embarks on European tour
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