Denmark Refusing to hand over troops to Iraq

Unfortunately the only source I have at the moment is in German:

Here is the situation.

Danish forces in Iraq aren’t going to give insurgents/captured persons over to the Iraqi government because Iraq is a death penalty nation and Denmark opposes the death penalty.

I think this is bullshit.

If Denmark captures a U.S. fugitive in Denmark, and refuses to extradite because of the death penalty, that is fine. That is Denmark’s prerogative.

If Denmark were to capture someone in Afghanistan prior to the establishment of the Afghani government, that would be another thing, and it would be fine.

If Denmark had done this prior to the dissolution of the CPA, that would again be fine. Because in all those cases Denmark was in basically a military zone and they were fighting in a military area over which they were basically given control.

Now, though, Denmark, the United States et cetra is operating on clearly defined sovereign Iraqi land. Technically speaking of course, the current Iraqi government cannot unilaterally send the United States or any of the allied forces away.

But, the fact remains that Denmark, the United States, et al. are operating on sovereign soil, and they are simply performing a security guard function for a sovereign nation.

With that in mind, I think it is abominable that Denmark is going to sit there and force its laws on a foreign people via the use of their military.

Don’t be silly. The entire exercise has been an example of the US and its allies forcing their own laws, interests and notions on a foreign people via the use of their military. Why stop now?

More seriously, even if, as you say, Iraq is now a sovereign state again, it cannot oblige the Danes to do anything at all. Denmark is also a sovereign state. Denmark is within its rights to say “we’ll help you with internal security (or whatever), but only on terms that we won’t hand over anyone for potential execution.” The Danish troops are (presumably) subject to Danish law, which forbids this, and Iraq can hardly insist that Denmark violate its own law.

If Iraq doesn’t like the terms on which Danish help is offered, it can decline the help. If it has no legal right to decline to have Danish troops operating in its territory then, despite your assertion, it is not a (fully) sovereign state.

We forced certain values of ours (the crazy ones, like our values that hold mass murder and genocide and totalitarianism to be bad) on the Saddam government.

But we haven’t been arresting people in Iraq and trying them under U.S. Criminal Code.

Ultimately Denmark is making a very unilateral statement, and they should consult with the Iraqi government first. I agree that Denmark should not violate its own laws, and that Denmark should leave immediately if that is what the Iraqis wish.

Please tell me you are being sarcastic.

After the mess America made on the international carpet, I think you should be very quiet for a loooong looooong time.

Why are you so foolish to think the Danes have these prisoners? Didn’t you hear? The US is there unilaterally with no international support! Sheesh, how could you fall for this? Danes in Iraq, indeed! :dubious:


No, no, no. I think what you mean to say is

“We were happy to let mass murder and genocide and totalitarianism go by for decades. It wasn’t our problem. But when it suited our domestic political interests to invade Iraq for reasons which turned out to be completely bogus, we intervened and killed a few tens of thousands of Iraqis. Now everybody knows that the justification was bogus but, hey, what the hell. As a consquence of our intervention, an odious tyranny was brought to an end, but we’d be telling barefaced and shameless lies if we pretended that that was our motivation for invading. Still, we’re prepared to do that in order to try and distract attention from the complete collapse of the justification on which we originally relied.”

Well, the US has been arresting people in Iraq – rather more people than the Danes, I suspect - so you can’t really object to the Danes arresting people, and the Danes aren’t trying anyone under the Danish criminal code either, so far as I know. They’re simply not prepared to hand a prisoner over from the Danish jurisdiction to a foreign jurisdiction where he may face execution. That’s their sovereign right.

The Danes made a much more unilateral statement when they invaded, quite frankly. If you can swallow that horse, I don’t see why you strain at the gnat. In this regard the Danes are exercising their own sovereignty, as they are perfectly entitled to do, and their right to do so is not in doubt. The invasion of Iraq would, by contrast, be much more difficult to defend by appealing to principles of sovereignty.

In fact this stand-off doesn’t require the Danes to leave. The Iraqis can solve this problem by undertaking not to execute any prisoner delivered to them from Danish custody. The latter measure is the way this issue – which is a common one, although it doesn’t usually arise in cases of military occupation – is usually resolved. My guess is that that would be the preferred Iraqi solution. And even that solution doesn’t have to be implemented until the Danes arrest someone whom the Iraqis wish to try for a capital crime. Don’t hold your breath.

Denmark hand over Iraqi prisoners to the British forces since they don’t have the means or training to conduct a throughout interrogation themselves. The Danish officer, Henrik Falch, speaking in Der Spiegel has accused the British forces of “systematically breaking the Geneva conventions” and has been recalled from Iraq in relation with some other problems (incidentally, quite ironically relating to accusations of Danish officers under his supervision breaking Geneva conventions). I doubt he’s going back. The opinions in Der Spiegel (and – very left-leaning Danish newspaper) are just him speaking for himself – not official policy.

Denmark is prohibited by international law from handing over prisoners to countries, which do not fulfil the Geneva conventions, but I don’t think there exist an official policy hindering handing over prisoners to Iraqi authorities. But indeed it would be very bad if it were so. Iraq has a new government which needs its authority challenged and undermined by foreign troops on its soil like it need a hold in the head.

English-language article.

It appears I was mistaken:

Prisoner transfer to British forces has been momentarily halted until procedures have been cleared. The legitimacy of the Iraqi government is way more important that the prissy moral feelings of the Danes. More people will die if the government will be undermined than would ever die in capital punishments. If the Danes can’t fulfil their obligations in Iraq without compromising the integrity of the Iraqi government they should fuck the fuck home.

The legitimacy of the Iraqi government is surely already compromised by the fact that it was installed, and is maintained in power, by a coalition of invading foreign military forces? I really don’t see how its legitimacy is further undermined by an acknowledgement of the further reality that the Danish forces are the forces of Denmark, under Danish command and governed by Danish law. That would still be the case even if Denmark were willing to hand over prisoners.

This particular standoff may demonstrate or highlight the compromised legitimacy of the Iraqi government, but it doesn’t itself compromise that legitimacy. It is Iraq’s sovereign right , in accordance with law and with internationally recognised minimum standards, to try and execute people within its jurisdiction. It is Denmark’s sovereign right not to co-operate with the procudures of other countries leading to execution. What this stand-off illustrates is that the Iraqi goverment is unable to exercise what ought to be the sovereign right of Iraq; it has to rely on other sovereigns to do that for it. If Denmark handed over prisoners that reality wouldn’t go away, and it is that reality, rather than Denmark’s adherence to its humanitarian principles, which calls into question the legitimacy of the Iraqi government.

Another English story on this subject.

British prisoners could be executed

Anyone using the term “defined sovereign Iraqi land” should take a quick look at the interim Iraqi governments sovereignty as regards the coalition forces on Iraqi soil: None whatsoever.

I can’t help noticing that the fate of the prisoners does not enter into this equation of yours.

FWIW, seeing the government in opposition to the coalition forces might actually improve its standing among the Iraqis.

But OK, seeing as the legitimacy of the government is such an overriding concern, would you argue that the US forces should comply with the government’s request to withdraw the coalition troops from Najaf ?

The only “integrity” there is to the current Iraqi gvt. is that it’s backed by the people with the biggest guns, as long as it doesn’t ake waves. Anyway, it’s far too late to “fuck the fuck home”. For whatever reasons we helped made the mess and we’re stuck with cleaning it up, heaven knows how.

Heh. One could, if once chose, bluster for hours over whether the new Iraqi government had sovereignty over this or over that, or whether it is legitimate, or whatever. Indeed, one could try to refight the entire argument whether it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein from power by force in this little thread about a tiny side issue arising more than a year after the deed is done.

But the entire issue raised by this thread comes about precisely because of an independent decision made by an Iraqi government exercising its sovereignty. During the occupation and control by the CPA the death penalty was suspended in Iraq, doubtless at least in part in deference to the national wishes of many of the coalition partners. The new government reinstated it despite the knowledge that it would anger some of the governments which are trying to help rebuild the country, including one of the two largest participants in the liberation.

Cite? Last I heard Allawi asked us to go into Najaf. My cite.

Interesting. One could get the feeling that the interim Gvt. wants to actually do one thing, yet wants to be seen doing another ?

I think there are much graver legal issues… especially imposing the death penalty with a view to executing Saddam. Civilized countries usually don’t allow for new laws to be valid for older crimes. (Well Saddam could be tried on his own laws that were valid during his crimes… quite appropriately.)

I think the Danish are correct in pointing out this “difficulty” and they certainly shoudn’t deliver people unto a quasi illegitimate government and possibly dubious juridical defense and court. Geneva conventions should be followed first and Iraqi “law” second.

Only barbaric countries have death penalties anyway...  ;)

Since our memories seem to be in a little need of refreshing, the U.S. went into Iraq after failing to gain the authorization of the U.N. Security Council to do so, in large part because some of the other nations felt that our evidence for WMDs was not that convincing and thought it might be best to let inspections runs their course (although some would have probably argued for a higher standard than just the existence of small rotting stockpiles of chemical weapons, for example). Boy, that seems pretty intelligent in retrospect, doesn’t it?

While the coalition may include “many” nations, many of them are tiny and most are making only a small contribution in terms of troops. And, international opinion was overall strongly against us. In fact, I believe it was quite strongly against us even amongst the populace of some countries in the coalition, such as Denmark.

I’d think you’d be a little less cavalier in setting up a straw-man of the opposing position when your side has turned out to be wrong about just about everything. Of course, I guess all you have left to do at this point is to knock down some straw men that you set up.

I think the Danes’ ultimate obligations are to Denmark and the integrity of their own standards for justice. I don’t think any of them would mind going home, would they?

Is one year of military service still required in Denmark?

What is standard of justice and moral integrity if it doesn’t lead to a better world? The potential problem is so small I feel the Danish command is only trying to appear moral superior at the expense of the government in Iraq. As usual such a policy is probably instated to send some domestic signals or prevent critique from home rather than addressing actual problems on the ground. At the very least a quiet agreement should have been reached whereby the Iraqis assured no prisoners handed over from Denmark would face a death sentence, which could have prevented the Iraqi government from losing face or appearing more impotent than it already is.

There is still a limited draft in Denmark but only volunteers are sent to Iraq, and they must have passed the first basic training. There have so far been no problem filling the spots. Young adventurous men. The pay is good and tax free. I know a few. Most proudly feel they do some good and needed work. And six months in Iraq/Kosovo/Afghanistan/Cyprus/Israel/etc. then back home and you’ve got enough for the downpayment on a house or something.

Agreed but doesn’t Brazil still allow for it under some circumstances? Granted, it’s been 149 years since the last legally sanctioned one.