American Judge Theodor Meron is no stranger to controversy as far as international justice is concerned.
In 2013, he was accused in a leaked letter by a colleague at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Judge Frederik Harhoff, of pressuring his fellow judges to acquit high profile suspects.
As president of the Appeals Chamber of both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he came under scrutiny for reducing the sentences or releasing notorious Rwandan genocidaires on appeal.
In the recent past, he has made it a practice to grant early releases to some of the architects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that led to the deaths of over a million people.
Judge Meron’s tenure runs out at the end of the year, and true to his nature, he is going out with a bang. He has ordered the release of Aloys Simba midway through his 25-year sentence.
Despite the government of Rwanda’s constant protests, they have fallen on deaf ears. Judge Meron seems to wield a lot of clout in New York. In a Wikileaks cable of July 2003, Meron expressed his desire to see the then prosecutors Carla Del Ponte’s appointment terminated. It was.
The international criminal justice should not be the private playground of one single individual. There is a need for closer scrutiny by the UN Security Council, the appointing body of judges of both the ICTR and ICTY.
In order to avoid another “Meronish” kind of behaviour, there should be a code of conduct; a binding code of judicial ethics. Otherwise, it is making a mockery out of justice.