EDITORIAL LETTERS

International Court Needed to Deter War Crimes

Hats off to the author of the opinion-page article ''Who Will Respond to Burundi?'' Feb. 14.

The author compares the situation in Burundi to the disaster that occurred in Rwanda, but she doesn't mention another important aspect of that situation: the creation of a war-crimes tribunal to deal with particular individuals who committed the atrocities. In Burundi, as well as throughout the world, we need a permanent International Criminal Court such as the one being considered by the United Nations General Assembly. We can then deter those who would commit atrocities instead of waiting until after the uprising to establish a court.

These two ideas together would give the world community an effective combination for dealing with wars in smaller countries. Let individually recruited peace forces enforce international law against the individuals who know in advance that they will be prosecuted if they violate such a law.

Ronald J. Glossop Jennings, Mo.

Professor and Coordinator of Peace Studies

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

A call for global aid in Rwanda

Recent news articles such as ''Burundi on the Brink,'' Feb. 23, and the News-in-Brief item ''Zaire Sealed Off the Kimbumba Refugee Camp,'' Feb. 14, address many of the issues confronting Zaire's attempts to speed up the repatriation of Rwandan refugees, but the potential danger of an uncontrolled, mass repatriation hasn't been adequately covered.

Zairian forces have now surrounded two refugee camps. The operation is designed to cut off the refugees from outside commercial and other contacts. So far, there has not been a marked increase in repatriation, but this may develop over time.

Zaire, Rwanda, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees must guard against precipitating the worst-case scenario: a mass stampede of refugees, among them Hutu insurgents, pushing into Rwanda and triggering that country to respond with force. The crossfire that would result would put thousands of refugee civilians at grave risk, and reconstruction in Rwanda would be severely set back.

The international community should offer immediate assistance to Rwanda to help it cope with what could be a massive flow. Specifically, nonlethal riot-control equipment for Rwandan forces should be provided, as well as trucks and buses.

Lionel A. Rosenblatt Washington

President, Refugees International

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