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Human Rights Watch chief: bin Laden killing not ‘justice’

Kenneth Roth criticizes U.N. Secretary General’s comments

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The executive director of Human Rights Watch criticized United Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for calling the killing of Osama bin Laden an act of justice, saying that the Al Qaeda leader was denied
due process.

Kenneth Roth opined on bin Laden's death via his Twitter account (@KenRoth): "Ban Ki-moon wrong on #Osama bin Laden: It's not "justice" for him to be killed even if justified; no trial, conviction".

Mr. Ban had called bin Laden's killing "a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism," adding that personally he was "very much relieved by the news that justice has been done to such a mastermind of international terrorism."

Mr. Roth later pressed the Obama administration for a fuller accounting of the gunfight that preceded bin Laden's death: "White House still hasn't clarified: OBL 'resisted' but how did he pose
lethal threat to US forces on scene? Need facts."

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has been relatively mum on the Al Qaeda leader's death, issuing a terse statement quoting Mr. Roth: "At a time when citizens around the world have engaged in peaceful demonstrations in the name of freedom and democracy, bin Laden's death is a reminder of the thousands of innocents who suffer when terrorist groups seek political change through brutal means."

UPDATE: In a press release Wednesday afternoon, Human Rights Watch clarified that the organization has taken no official position on the legality of bin Laden's killing.

"Human Rights Watch has said that we do not have enough information about the killing to draw conclusions about whether it was lawful or not," the group said. "Human Rights Watch calls on the US government to provide that information."

The release went on to say that "[t]he inability to bring bin Laden to trial for crimes against humanity means that an important avenue for justice has been lost, but that is quite different from determining
whether the killing was legal."

The group said that the U.S. "should provide all the relevant facts about Osama bin Laden's death to clarify whether it was justified under international law."

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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