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Legality of the Death of Bin Laden Questioned

The legality of how Bin Laden was killed during the attack – code name: Geronimo – is now under question as he was shot at and killed while unarmed. Bin Laden’s death also diverted attention to the long-standing question about anti-terrorism being under military or law-enforcement campaign.

During wars, enemies who do not explicitly surrender, regardless if armed or not, are taken as legitimate targets. Therefore, international experts said that under the military context, the killing of Bin Laden is legal under the scenarios detailed by the White House on Wednesday – saying that Bin Laden was unarmed but refused and resisted capture.

In direct contrast, human rights laws say that the police must practice the greatest possible restraints and efforts to capture any suspect alive, barring only direct risks to the lives of civilians and police officers. The senior counsel of the Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program of the Human Rights Watch Andrea Prasow said that we have a higher obligation to make sure that lethal force is not used.

Prasow said that they do not have enough detailed accounts of what happened so it is too early to tell if Bin Laden’s killing is lawful or not. They are still looking forward for the White House to release more information about what really transpired during the attack.

The White House stands by the legality of the operation and emphasized on Wednesday that Osama’s killing by a Navy SEAL team was a legitimate operation. US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the killing can be justified as a “national self-defence.”

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