Warrant Sought for the Arrest of Henry Kissinger
Bid to press charges under the Geneva Conventions for war crimes in Vietnam.
An application for the arrest of former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, will be made at Bow Street Magistrates Court at 9.30am on Monday 22 April by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
He will seek a court hearing for a warrant for the arrest of Mr Kissinger on charges of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957.
The charges will state that "while he was National Security Advisor to the US President 1969-75 and US Secretary of State 1973-77 he commissioned, aided and abetted and procured war crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia".
Mr Tatchell has already written to the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith QC, requesting that he prosecute Mr Kissinger.
"British law states that violations of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes. I expect the Attorney General to uphold the law. There are no immunities from prosecution. No one is beyond the law".
"If the Attorney-General is unwilling to enforce the law, I have requested that he grant me leave to bring a private prosecution", said Mr Tatchell.
"Pending a decision by the Attorney-General, I am asking Bow Street Magistrates Court to grant a warrant for Mr Kissinger's arrest".
Henry Kissinger is due in London on Wednesday to address a meeting of the Institute of Directors at the Royal Albert Hall.
Mr Tatchell says the legal case against Mr Kissinger is "strong and compelling":
"Kissinger proposed, authorised, supervised, monitored and approved the secret, illegal invasion and bombardment of two neutral countries, Cambodia and Laos; the indiscriminate bombing raids and search and destroy operations; and the use of toxic defoliants and pesticides. These policies caused mass death and suffering to the civilian population and severe long-term damage to the natural environment".
"These policies are war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957"
In his letters to the Attorney General and Bow Street Magistrates, Mr Tatchell states:
"According to the US Senate sub-committee on Refugees, from March 1968 to March 1972 in excess of three million civilians were killed, wounded or made homeless".
The Justices's Clerk
Bow Street Magistrates' Court
28 Bow Street
London WC2E 7AS
22 April 2002
Dear Justices' Clerk,
APPLICATION FOR A WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF HENRY ALFRED KISSINGER
ON CHARGES OF WAR CRIMES UNDER THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS ACT 1957
I wish to lay an information and apply for a warrant for the arrest of Henry Alfred Kissinger on charges under Section 1 of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957: that while he was National Security Advisor to the US President 1969-75 and US Secretary of State 1973-77 he commissioned, aided and abetted and procured war crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Namely, he proposed, authorised, supervised, monitored, allowed to happen and failed to halt:
- the invasion and bombardment of two neutral countries, Cambodia and Laos;
- the practice of indiscriminate bombing raids and search and destroy operations;
- and the use of toxic defoliants and pesticides as weapons of war;
causing mass death and suffering to the civilian population and severe long-term damage to the natural environment.
According to the US Senate sub-committee on Refugees, from March 1968 to March 1972 in excess of three million civilians were killed, wounded or made homeless. During this same period, the Pentagon confirms that the US dropped nearly 4.5 million tons of high explosive on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which is more than double the tonnage dropped during the whole of the Second World War.
The chief architect of US war policy during most of these four years was Henry Alfred Kissinger.
His acts of commission and omission are criminal offences under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, Fifth Schedule, Protocol 1:
Part IV, Civilian Population, Articles 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 57 (requirement to protect the civilian population and the natural environment),
Part V, Execution of the Conventions and of the Protocol, Articles 80, 86 and 87 (requirement to ensure observance of the Conventions and Protocol 1).
Details of the offences, charges and evidence are attached.
To secure an arrest warrant for Henry Alfred Kissinger, I am requesting a hearing at Bow Street Magistrates' Court today, Monday 22 April 2002. Mr Kissinger will be present in the UK only on the night of 23 April 2002 and the morning of 24 April 2002. Given the brevity of his presence in this country, I therefore seek a court decision on my application for an arrest warrant by the afternoon of 23 April 2002 at the latest.
I have written to the Attorney-General and Director of Public Prosecutions requesting that they initiate legal proceedings for the prosecution of Mr Kissinger, and requested that if they are not willing to initiate a prosecution, that they consent to me bringing a private prosecution.
Copies of these letters are attached.
Pending a decision from the Attorney-General and Director of Public Prosecutions, I request that my court hearing for an arrest warrant proceed, with the court giving a ruling either today or tomorrow and then, if necessary, referring its ruling to the Attorney-General and Director of Public Prosecutions.
Given Mr Kissinger's short visit to the UK, it is, I contend, reasonable that I be granted a court hearing and an arrest warrant, pending the decision of the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Application by Peter Gary Tatchell for a warrant for the arrest of Henry Alfred Kissinger under Section 1 of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957:
The evidence against Mr Kissinger, as set out in the book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens (Verso, London, 2001), demonstrates that, during the period when he was National Security Advisor to the US President 1969-75 and US Secretary of State 1973-77, Mr Kissinger:
A. proposed, authorised, supervised and monitored the key elements of US war policy in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia;
B. was involved in day-to-day war management, including planning and approving major military operations;
C. received detailed intelligence briefings on the effects of those operations;
D. knew of the massive civilian casualties and environmental destruction resulting from the US war effort;
E. approved military operations knowing they were likely to result in widespread civilian casualties and grave environmental damage;
F. neglected to ensure that US attacks were limited strictly to military objectives;
G. oversaw indiscriminate bombing raids and army sweeps that failed to distinguish adequately between military and civilian personnel;
H. did not act to ensure that US military operations spared civilians;
I. failed to warn or protect civilian populations;
J. made no serious attempt to halt civilian and environmental destruction;
K. evaded his responsibility to encourage and require observance of the Conventions and Protocol 1 by US government officials and military forces;
L. never pursued disciplinary action against the perpetrators of civilian and environmental damage who violated the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1.
1. Mr Kissinger was a senior party - second only to the President - to the secret, illegal invasion and bombing of two neutral countries, Laos and Cambodia, without a declaration war or any warning to the civilian population. In his own account of his period as Presidential advisor on National Security, White House Years, Kissinger admits that on Air Force One on 24 February 1969, together with H R Halerman, Alexander Haig and Colonel Smitton, he conspired to work out "the guidelines for the (secret and illegal) bombing of the enemy's sanctuaries" in Cambodia and Laos.
2. US General Telford Taylor, the former chief prosecuting counsel at the Nuremberg trials, condemned the Kissinger-endorsed policy of air strikes against hamlets suspected of harbouring Vietnamese guerrillas as "flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention on Civilian Protection".
3. The following examples are evidence of indiscriminate US attacks, approved and overseen by Mr Kissinger, which caused widespread civilian casualties:
(a) Writing in Newsweek on 19 June 1972, Kevin Buckley revealed that one US official admitted that "as many as 5,000" civilians were killed by US firepower in the military operation Speedy Express in Kien Hoa province in 1969: "..the enormous discrepancy between the body count (11,000) and the number of captured weapons (748) is hard to explain - except by the conclusion that many victims were unarmed innocent civilians". In one village alone, an elder recalled: "The Americans destroyed every house with artillery, air strikes or by burning them down with cigarette lighters. About 100 people were killed by bombing, others were wounded and others became refugees".
(b) In March 1969, the hospital at Ben Tre reported 343 patients injured by "friendly fire" (US forces) and only 25 by "the enemy".
(c) US raids were mostly conducted by B-52 bombers flying at such a high altitude that they cannot be seen from the ground, and give no warning to civilians of their approach. Moreover, they are incapable of accuracy or discrimination in their targeting - on account of both their extreme altitude and the sheer volume of their bomb load. Between March 1969 and May 1970, there were 3,630 US bombing raids on Cambodia.
(d) A memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning these raids, forwarded to the Defense Department and the White House, and almost certainly seen by Mr Kissinger, warned that "some Cambodian casualties would be sustained in the operation" and "the surprise effect of the attack could tend to increase casualties". The memo stated that the target areas were populated, albeit sparsely. Mr Kissinger later told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the targeted areas were "unpopulated".
(e) From July to August 1973, there was 21 per cent increase in the bombing of Cambodia. The Air Force maps of the targeted areas list them as being, or having been, densely populated by civilians.
(f) Freelance investigator Fred Branfman secretly taped US pilots on bombing missions over Cambodia in the early 1970s. At no point did any pilots check before or during the raids that they were not bombing civilians. His expose that no precautions were taken to protect civilians was later written up in The New York Times by Sydney Schanberg; offering compelling evidence of the indiscriminate nature of US aerial attacks.
(g) US bombing is calculated to have killed 350,000 civilians in Laos and 600,000 in Cambodia. Several times more civilians were wounded and made refugees.
(h) During the first 30 months of the Nixon-Kissinger adminstration, the CIA's counter-insurgency "Phoenix Programme" was responsible for the murder or abduction of 35,708 Vietnamese civilians.
4. Mr Kissinger approved the systematic use of chemical defoliants and pesticides (including Agent Orange) which, for decades afterwards, caused birth defects and rendered significant areas of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia too toxic for people to live or farm - creating an environmental disaster that will continue to affect generations to come.
5. Intimately involved in military decision-making, Mr Kissinger chaired a number of hands-on posts, including the Vietnam Special Studies Group, which supervised the daily conduct of the war. Colonel Ray Smitton, the Joint Chiefs of Staff expert on air tactics, notes that by late 1969 Mr Kissinger was overruling his office on target selection: "Not only was Henry carefully screening the raids, he was reading the raw intelligence". Later, he began to intervene to dictate mission patterns and bombing runs.
6. It is implausible for Mr Kissinger to claim that he was unaware of US violations of the Geneva Conventions. He planned, sanctioned and monitored many of them. In his memoirs, White House Years, he acknowledges that nothing of significance took place in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia without his knowledge or authorisation.
Application by Peter Gary Tatchell for a warrant for the arrest of Henry Alfred Kissinger under Section 1 of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957:
According to the above specimen evidence, while Mr Kissinger was US National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State his conduct in relation to the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia violated the following Articles of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, Fifth Schedule, Protocol 1, Part IV, Civilian Population:
Article 51 - Protection of the Civilian population
- The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations..
- The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts of threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:
(a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective;
(b) those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
(c) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol;
and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.
5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered indiscriminate:
- an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects; and
(b) an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantages anticipated.
6. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.
Article 52 - General Protection of Civilian Objects
- Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals..
- Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives..
Article 53 - Protection of Cultural Objects and of Places of Worship
..it is prohibited:
- to commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.
Article 55 - Protection of the Natural Environment
1.Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage. This protection includes a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby prejudice the health or survival of the population.
Article 57 - Precautions in Attack
- In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.
- With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken:
(a) those who plan or decide upon an attack shall:
- do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects..
- take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimising, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects;
- refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;
- an attack shall be cancelled or suspended if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or is subject to special protection or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;
- effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.
Moreover, Mr Kissinger's actions in the conduct of that war also violated the following Articles of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, Fifth Schedule, Protocol 1, Part V, Execution of the Conventions and of the Protocol:
Article 80 - Measures for Execution
1. The High Contracting Parties and the Parties to the conflict shall without delay take all necessary measures for the execution of their obligations under the Conventions and this Protocol.
2. The High Contracting Parties and the Parties to the conflict shall give orders and instructions to ensure observance of the Conventions and this Protocol, and shall supervise their execution.
Article 86 - Failure to Act
1. The High Contracting Parties and Parties to the conflict shall repress grave breaches, and take measures necessary to suppress all other breaches, of the Conventions or of this Protocol which result from a failure to act when under a duty to do so.
2. The fact that a breach of the Conventions or of this Protocol was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from penal or disciplinary responsibility, as the case may be, if they knew or had information which should have enabled them to conclude in the circumstances at the time, that he was committing or going to commit such as breach and if they did not take all feasible measures within their power to prevent or repress the breach.
Article 87 - Duty of Commanders
1.The High Contracting Parties and Parties to the conflict shall require military commanders, with respect to members of the armed forces under their command and other persons under their control, to prevent and, where necessary, to suppress and to report to competent authorities breaches or the Conventions and of this Protocol..
Click here to return to the International Index Click here to return to the United States Index