A Washington and Lee University School of Law international law expert shared her thoughts recently on what can be learned from errors made during the war-crimes trial of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein. Assistant Professor Melissa Waters' remarks on the Harrisburg campus on Thursday, April 19 marked the first John Gedid Lecture in what is to become an annual series.
Waters has worked with Iraqi judges and attorneys over the last three years, training them in international human rights law and criminal defense law. Some of the judges participating in the training went on to preside over Hussein's war crimes trial.
Waters said those in power should think twice in the future before trying to conduct such a trial in a country still experiencing such upheaval and conflict. She said the trial could have waited or been moved to a neutral country. The trial also needed more international support, and better public relations efforts could
have been employed to explain to the Iraqi people that the trial was about justice for them. Finally, tribunal judges could have been even better trained before putting them in a position to direct one of the most important trials of the century.
"What went wrong with the Saddam trial? I think everything went wrong," she said.
The event honored Professor John L. Gedid, who has been a leading figure on the Harrisburg campus since it opened in 1989. He served as the campus associate dean during its first six years of operation and is a beloved professor, treasured mentor and active public servant. Gedid currently directs the school's Law & Government Institute, which is dedicated to improving law that defines the structure and operation of government and the rights and duties of citizens dealing with government.
Widener Law is grateful to Aspen Publishing and the Harrisburg faculty for their generous support of the series. Captions:Photo 1: From left, Carol Gedid, her husband Widener Law Professor John L. Gedid, Washington and Lee Assistant Law Professor Melissa Waters and Widener Law Associate Professor Wesley M. Oliver listen to remarks at the start of the program.
Photo 2: Harrisburg campus Vice Dean Loren D. Prescott Jr., right, presents Widener Law Professor John L. Gedid a framed poster from the inaugural John Gedid Lecture series. Carol Gedid, center, watches.
Photo 3: Washington and Lee Assistant Law Professor Melissa Waters talks about the trial of Saddam Hussein.