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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 10. July 19, 1957

Lawyers Argue Across Curtain

Lawyers Argue Across Curtain

U.N. seems to be the only international organisation set up at the close of World War II which has survived the frosts of the cold war. Maybe we ought to be thankful for that—for on its survival rots that, of humanity.

The students' international (I.U.S.). the trade union international (W.F.T.U.), the youth international (W.D.F.Y.)... all have been split asunder by the stress of events. The lawyers' international has naturally been no exception—indeed, who would really expect a single friendly world brother hood to be able to embrace all the members of a profession that gets its livelihood by argument?

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers was founded in Paris in 1946, and (in the words of one of its detractors) was "assured of warm support from prominent jurists throughout the world." But, following the general pattern of international bodies, it slowly became more sectarianly pro-Soviet—dutitully expelling the Yugoslavs in 1949, for example—until its mild old President. Professor Rene Cassin, resigned, and most non-party-liners jumped the ship.

In 1952, a Congress in Berlin gave birth to a new body—the International Commission of Jurists. With refugees from Eastern Europe occupying a quarter of the seats, and the German "Investigating Committee of Free Jurists" acting as hosts, the Congress naturally took a strong anti-Soviet slant, and most of the activities of I.C.J. since (although it selected the Hague as its headquarters with the evident intention of being associated with the recognised international legal tribunal), label it a definitely right-wing organisation.

Needless to say, not a little of the time and energy of both I.A.D.I. and I.C.J. are spent in trying to undo each others influence, and latterly this has developed into a slanging-match, chiefly interesting to the unprejudiced onlooker because the nasty things they say about each other are nearly all true.

In 1955. I.C.J produced a "Report on the Character of the I.A.D.L." entitled "Under False Colours": and I.A.D.L.'s Bulletin No 30 (March, 1957) carries a long article called "A Political Fighting Group Against the Relaxation of International Tension: the I.C.J."

I.C.J.'s accusation that I.A.D.L. has become a "Communist front" is essentially true, but the grounds on which it considers Communists to be vulnerable sound strange in New Zealand cars. I.A.D.I., Secretary, Joe Nordmann, is indicted as "previously Secretary of the French organisation of jurists. Movement National Judiciaire." and one of I.A.D.L.'s founders. Dr. Ecer, is condemned as a "prominent figure at the Nuremberg Trials."

Being active in resistance to Nazi occupation and in the trials of Nazi war criminals, would not amount to anything very reprehensible in our eyes. But they would in the eyes of lawyers who, rather than risk thcim smug Snug niche in the sun, collaborated with the Nazis. And it is an unfortunate fact that some of the German [unclear: and] other European jurists who have rallied round I.C.J. did do that.

The L.A.D I., article on I.C.J. includes some profiles of I.C.J. personalities—Hasan [unclear: Dasi] for instance, the "Free Albanian", who was Minister of "Justice" in Albania under Mussolini's occupation: and Eric kaufmann (West Germany) who in an extraordinary book (published during the Hitler regime) called "The Heritage of Bismarke in the Constitution of the Reich" wrote: "War is a part of the universal order, it is Gods judgment by which is revealed the real power which draws its strength from moral force: it is the great ordeal which determines whether the balance of power in the world is just or must give way to a juster."

The tit-for-tat on personalities goes further. I.C.D. sums up I.A.D.L.'s President. D. N. Pritt. Q.C.. and ex-M.P., as ::the fellow-travelling British sacialist." simply ignoring his immense prestige as a first-class lawyer whose services are sought in cases of international moment. Even such unmistakeable anti-Communists as Arthur Koestler (in "Reflections on Hanging") and Peter Evans (in "Law and Disorder") pay tribute to Pritt in this capacity. But not I.C.J

Still, the fact remains that politically Pritt has become famous as an apologist for Soviet foreign policy, and it was difficult to see him as an eminent legal authority when he was fulminating at I.A.D.L. Congresses about "the camp of peace".

For it is true that marsh lights of Moscow led I.A.D.L. into some very peculiar activities—many of which had the most tenuous connection with law.

But its Congress in Brussels last year did a good deal to redeem LA.D.L.'s reputation. There was a return to the old breadth in representation and views expressed. There were two other English Q.C.'s besides Pritt (William Harvey Moore and Granville Sharp): Judges from France and Brazil, and Law Professors from Japan and West Germany. In discussion. Pritt himself admitted that the Association had been "too one-sided both in its composition and in its attitude to practical problems of civil liberty."

Another English Leftist, Dudley Collard, spoke of "recent miscarriages principally in cases of a political nature', and listed cases in the U.S.A., Kenya, Hun gary, Bulgaria. Cyprus, and the U.S.S.R

Finally, the Congress adopted a Code of minimum requirements in penal procedure—including, hearing within 48 hours of arrest, right of action for wrongful detention, right to independent defence counsel, need for confessions to be corroborated, absence of physical pressure or threats to produce statements, right of at least one appeal, no corporal punishment, no capital punishment in peacetime, and full and fair publicity for all criminal proceedings.

Standard procedure in Eastern Europe certainly falls short of this Code—but this does not necessarily prove LA.D.L.'s hypocrisy. On the contrary, taken with other circumstances at the Brussel's Congress, the Code might well be a sign that I.A.D.I. has become aware of the farcical errors it has made, and is trying to overcome its isolation by being genuinely less one-eyed.

It also provides a concrete programme which is a much more useful yardstick for measuring various judicial systems than I.C.J.'s favourite but oh-so-vague phrase: "The Rule of Law".

At the same time. I.C.J. too, shows signs of broadening from being just a sort of Red-Baiters' International. The Athens Congress (mid-1955) refused a hearing to Greek lawyers with complaints about British atrocities in Cyprus, making it clear that the only atrocities on the agenda were those "behind the Iron Curtain". But pressure from more liberal Western lawyer who have become interested in I.C.J. has forced the organization to take an interest in violations of deceny elsewhere, and the next full-length I.C.J. Report is to be on LA.D.L.'s favourite target of criticism. South Africa.

It seems that though both organisations have their comically obvious shortcomings, both also have their genuine virtues. And in a divided world, it is better that there should be two organisation than none.—C.B.

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