Crime against humanity

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Crime against humanity

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot out of the air last Thursday in eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko called the disaster “not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act.” Whatever the case, firing a missile at a civilian passenger plane with hundreds of people on board on a busy international commercial route is an inexcusable terrorist crime against humanity.

There has been a heightened risk of flying over an area ridden with conflict because of the ongoing insurgency by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine following the country’s breakup as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade and then annex Crimea. But nothing can justify destruction of an international passenger jetliner following a well-known route at the peak of the summer holiday travel season. The act is an undeniable threat to airlines and passengers of all nations.

The UN Security Council was immediately convened following the devastating crash of the Malaysian airliner packed with Europeans and other vacation travelers. The attack came after the mysterious disappearance in March of Malaysian Flight 370 an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. Both the whereabouts of the aircraft and the fate of the 239 people aboard remain unknown.

Britain, chairing the UN Security Council, proposed the creation of an independent investigative committee to thoroughly probe Thursday’s deadly attack. What is essential is objectivity so the groups and countries involved will have no choice but to shoulder responsibility and suffer the consequences of their actions. Countries from around the world must be represented on the investigative team, which should be under the strict jurisdiction of the United Nations so no individual country can influence or interfere with the outcome.

The investigation should aim to discover who is responsible for firing the missile and establish a strict mechanism to prevent a recurrence of such a horrible tragedy. Those who have been supplying flight information, fuel and weapons to the killers also must be held accountable. The Security Council must take strong action when the investigation is complete. Equally urgent are international endeavors to end the conflict in Ukraine and bring peace to war-torn regions everywhere. Slow and lackluster responses by world leaders to the Ukrainian crisis are partly to blame.

The International Civil Aviation Organization must impose tougher safety regulations in conflict zones. There were no Korean nationals on board, but our government must actively cooperate with international initiatives to demonstrate that public safety is everyone’s duty in today’s borderless skies.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 19, Page 30

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