Tyrants elude justice
Uganda’s former dictator Idi Amin is making news even from his death bed.
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2003 17:10 GMT
Charles Taylor is also likely to get off lightly like the other dictators
Uganda’s former dictator Idi Amin is making news even from his death bed.

As the ex-despot battles for his life in a Saudi Arabia hospital, worldwide interest has been stirred in tyrants like him who have managed to escape lightly without having to pay for their crimes.


Obese and ill after almost 25 years of comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia, Amin it would seem would die without ever being punished for his crimes.


During his terror-filled reign between 1971 and 1979,  he killed thousands of people and often fed the remains of his victims to crocodiles.


“Times are changing…exile is becoming harder to find”                          -- Reed Brody of the Human Rights Watch

But on being deposed, he slipped out quietly and thereafter managed to stay clear of prosecution.


But he hasn’t been the only one to have warded off justice.


Haiti’s Jean Claude Duvalier, also known as Baby Doc, fled his island in 1986 after a 15-year brutal rule and has since been living in French Riveria, driving around in a red Ferrari.


Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam has also had an easy escape.


Having directed purges and war, he lives in reasonable comfort in a ranch in Zimbabwe on being granted refuge by friend President Robert Mugabe.


Uganda’s Milton Obote, accused by many of being as brutal as Amin, is in Zambia while  Paraguay’s former iron-fisted leader, Alfredo Stroesser has found safe haven in Brazil.


Even contemporary strongmen are poised to emulate their notorious predecessors.


Liberia’s Charles Taylor, indicted by a UN court for war crimes, has already been offered asylum in Nigeria.


But human rights activists insist the noose is tightening round the tyrants.


“There has been a real sea-change in the attitude of the international community,” Amnesty International’s Christopher Hall said.


Many feel the recent establishment of an International Criminal Court is turning on the heat on the tyrants.


“Times are changing…exile is becoming harder to find,” Reed Brody of the Human Rights Watch says.


For Amin though,  it perhaps make no difference.  With death staring at him, he has all but given the slip.

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