Vengeance is not justice

Osama bin Laden

“Vengeance at last!” screamed The Sydney Morning Herald headline on Tuesday.  “Justice delayed but finally delivered, said The Australian.

The killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has revived hopes of an end to the War on Terror, and a return to a more secure and less fearful world.  As Paul Kelly put it in The Australian, “It was bin Laden, more than any other single person, whose fanatical vision created and sustained the war between the US and Islamist terrorists.  It is the longest war in American history, and sure to outlive its architect’s life.”

As former Prime Minister John Howard said, “The families of victims of 9/11 and Bali can rest assured that the ultimate mastermind has come to ultimate justice.”

But vengeance is not justice, let alone “ultimate justice.”  Justice in a Western context means the right to trial in a court of law where the evidence is presented.  What we saw in Pakistan was extra-judicial murder.

We all applaud the fact that bin Laden is dead, but the manner in which he was brought to justice may well diminish us all.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 8 May 2011.

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