The Guardian view on pursuing crimes against humanity: a laborious yet urgent challenge | Editorial

From Cambodia to Ukraine, achieving justice is difficult and daunting. Its champions are not giving up

Sixteen years after it began – and half a century after Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge claimed perhaps 2 million lives – the UN-backed tribunal on its crimes has ended . It concluded its work on Thursday, having cost $337m and convicted just three men. Other cases were dropped, or blocked by Cambodian judges. Pol Pot, the genocide’s chief architect, died without facing justice. Some survivors feel the process fell short of already low expectations.

One day later, UN legal experts told the body’s human rights council that Russian soldiers had raped and tortured children in Ukraine, among other war crimes . Will victims there ever see justice? The gravest matters to the international community – crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide – are the hardest and slowest to pursue. Those who are most responsible are the least likely to face justice, for the same reason: their power. Legal processes are inevitably politicised and imperfect. Even when justice can be achieved, it cannot revive the dead, or erase their pain, or wipe away the trauma of survivors. Yet families want, and societies need, truth and accountability – albeit slow, flawed and partial. It can bring a kind of resolution, if not comfort. It helps to place a marker in history, re-establishing a line that humans must not cross.

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Iran summons ambassadors of UK, Norway amid protests

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of the U.K. and Norway over issues it argued constitute meddling in the country’s ongoing unrest, according to state media.  

The director-general of Western Europe within Iran’s foreign ministry called out Norway’s Parliament speaker for allegedly “prejudicing and unrealistic comments” about recent protests in Iran, according to Iran’s official news agency, IRNA.  

The U.K. ambassador, meanwhile, was chastised for a London-based, Persian-language “hosting of the media” that Iran believes has produced “put provocation and invitation to turbulence and expansion of riots in Iran on top of their agenda,” according to a second report from IRNA. 

The two issues could be considered by Iran as meddling in Iran’s internal affairs, state media notes.  

Iran has experiencing unrest in the week since a 22-year-old woman died in the custody of Iran’s morality police as protesters demonstrate against the country’s strict dress code and clash with security forces. 

Mahsa Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly and later died while in police custody. Though Iran denies that Amini was mistreated, reports suggest she was beaten while detained, according to a release from the United Nations human rights office

Protests broke out nationwide following news of Amini’s death, and Iran’s police and paramilitary forces have reportedly since been trying to quell the demonstrations, at times with tear gas, pellet guns and live ammunitions, the U.N. reports.  

International attention turned to Iran as global leaders have moved to criticize Iran’s treatment of women — as well as its treatment of the protesters. 

The ambassadors of Norway and the U.K. have reportedly brought Iran’s concerns to officials in their respective capitals of Oslo and London.  

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