Was Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad legal?

The Australian government has maintained silence on the legality of Osama bin Laden’s killing by US special forces in May 2011.

Melbourne: The Australian government has maintained its silence on the legality of former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s killing by US special forces on May 02, 2011.

Declassified documents released under freedom of information revealed that Australian diplomats applauded bin Laden’s killing as "a defining moment" for US President Barack Obama.

But the government is silent on the whether the US raid in Abbottabad was legal under international law.

Departmental briefings for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and former attorney-general Robert McClelland on the legal issues arising from bin Laden’s death have been redacted from public release on the grounds that disclosure would "cause damage to the security of the Commonwealth and Australia’s international relations".

It also advised ministers to avoid public judgment on the legality of the raid. The relevant international law was described as "complex" with "key legal issues depending on which legal paradigm applies", The Age reports.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was advised to avoid discussing about the legal issues of the raid and instead focus on "the core point that the mission was successful and that one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists has been removed".

The US raid on May 02 last year attracted criticism from international lawyers and human rights groups, with London-based Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson describing the killing as a "perversion of justice".

An Australian Foreign Affairs spokesperson reaffirmed the official position on the issue, saying that "unlike Australia, the United States is in possession of all relevant facts".


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