of Ulla Roder, Ellen Moxley and Angie Zelter
Hamburg, September 22nd 1999
On Sunday, September 12th, 1999 I was informed by the Trident Ploughshares 2000 Legal Support Team that solicitor Matthew Berlow on behalf of the defendant Ms Ulla Roder was calling me into court as an expert witness in the case presumably The Crown Vs Ulla Roder, Angie Zelter and others. I was also informed that the Procurator Fiscal had asked for a prior written statement from each of the expert witnesses with residence abroad.
Thus, I give the following brief statement, stating my (1) personal and professional background, explaining (2) by what reasons and convictions I decided to blockade together with nineteen of my peers the military facility of the U.S. forces in Mutlangen where nuclear Pershing missiles were deployed, and outlining finally (3) the principles of international law that prohibit the use and the threat of nuclear weapons.
(1) My name is Ulf Werner Panzer, I am 54 years old, I am married and have one daughter.
In 1965 I started to study law in the universities of Hamburg and later in Geneva, Switzerland, and finished in 1969 with the ‘First Legal State Examination’. I received practical training in judicial and other legal work until 1972, then I passed my Second Legal State Examination which includes under the German legal system the qualification to exercise the function of a judge.
For two years I worked in a law firm in Hamburg as a barrister, mainly defending criminal cases, until I was appointed as a judge in 1975. Since 1978 I am presiding judge of a Criminal Department in the District Court of Hamburg-Harburg after having been appointed as judge for life. Since almost twenty-five years I handle all sorts of criminal offences, from misdemeanours (traffic violations) up to crimes (rape), the jurisdiction of a District Court, however, is limited to four years of imprisonment. Since the last four years, I am also judge of the Guardianship Department, placing under guardianship minors, elderly, sick, or mentally disturbed persons who cannot take care for themselves any more.
Early in 1985, I was invited by the American Lawyer’s Guild, the Fellowship on Reconciliation and Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), New York, to a lecturing journey through the United States meeting with lawyers and attorneys, students and professors, fellow judges and numerous peace groups and organisations in New York City, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kansas City, Missouri, and Seattle, Washington giving lectures on the international law of warfare that prohibit the use of nuclear weapons. But the main task was to convince my American peers to openly speak up against the danger of a nuclear holocaust. For we judges in Germany had founded an initiative called ‘Judges and Prosecutors for Peace’ two years earlier, when the NATO had decided to deploy cruise missiles and Pershings on German territory.
One year later I participated in and contributed to an International Conference on Nuclear Weapons and International Law that was held jointly by the Association of Soviet Lawyers and the LCNP in New York. Distinguished legal professors and scholars from all over the world (to name a few: Richard Falk, Princeton University, John Fried, University of New York, Francis Boyle, University of Illinois, Professor Christopher Weeramantry, Sri Lanka, (now one of the judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands) convincingly explained all the principles of customary international law and the numerous international treaties, conventions and declarations that constitute the illegality of international warfare. But the best result of that conference was the alliance between the LCNP and its Soviet counterpart, the Association of Soviet Lawyers.
This association was the preliminary stage of the IALANA, the International Alliance of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, which was founded in Stockholm in 1988, and today has affiliations in almost thirty countries all over the world.
I was one of the co-founders of the German ILANA in 1989.
Our judges’ initiative ‘Judges and Prosecutors for Peace’ convened for a Conference on the Illegality of Nuclear Arms under International Law which was held in Bonn in 1983, and more than two hundred judges from all over Germany participated. We submitted our legal opinion to every member of our Parliament that the deployment of such weaponry was prohibited by customary and statute international law, and moreover constituted a violation of our Constitution. Finally, we made which I believe was the first judges’ demonstration ever, marching through the streets of our capital with signs and banners, demanding to abolish nuclear arms.
But nothing happened. The deployment of cruise missiles and Pershings in Germany went on. To our second conference in Kessel, Hessia, in 1985, our initiative invited as a guest speaker Philip Berrigan, Reverend of the St-Joseph’s Order, member of the American Civil Rights Movement by the side of Martin Luther King, active resister of the Ploughshare Movement in America and frequently sentenced to long term imprisonment because of his non-violent actions against the dangers of nuclear weapons. He called us judges up do more than just protest, to be obedient to the law of God, which meant to be disobedient to the law of the state. That was when we judges began to think of a public protest against nuclear arms.
(2) It took almost two years until twenty German judges were ready to join that thousands of our fellow citizens that kept coming to the missile base of Mutlangen in peaceful protest against those weapons. We knew that we faced a detention and a charge of violent coercion (punishable under section 240 of the German Criminal Code), we knew we would be found guilty and sentenced to a considerable fine, we were afraid of the disciplinary action that was inevitably to come with an uncertain result.
But our fear of a nuclear holocaust, our fear that our lives and may be the existence of all human life could depend on the malfunction of a Soviet computer in their prewarning system was greater than our personal anxieties.
Moreover, we judges felt responsible.
The history of the German judiciary is tainted. 60 years ago, German judges have been a docile instrument of the criminal system of the Third Reich. Many judges committed murders under the cloak of justice. Most of the judges silently served the criminal policies of the nazis. They were silent in the face of the most cruel atrocities. Thus, the judiciary has become guilty.
Being silent in the face of the unfathomable atrocities of nuclear extinction would make us guilty again. We judges had to demonstrate that we have learned the lesson of the dark time of fascism. But all our warnings had died away unheard. Thus, we judges had to speak up loudly, in a way that the society and the politicians had to listen.
That is why we went to Mutlangen. We wanted to be heard. As judges we are responsible. It is our duty not only to enforce the law, but to protect that law and our Constitution. What do you do when you realise that the state, the government violate the law? You have to speak up.
(3) International law is an essential part of the German legal system. It supersedes domestic law.
The principles of the Law of War are drawn from numerous treaties and international agreements, such as the four Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, the Declaration of St. Petersburg, the Genocide Convention, just to name a few. These conventions considerably limit the sovereignty of the sate to use in times of war whatever military means it deems necessary. There is only one single objective left: to reduce the military forces of the aggressing enemy.
Thus, there is the strict prohibition under international law to use weapons or military tactics that violate one of the following six basic principles.
It is prohibited to use weapons that:
fail to discriminate between military and civilian personnel (Principle of Discrimination)
cause harm disproportionate to their preceding provocation or to legitimate objectives (Principle of Proportionality and Necessity)
cause unnecessary suffering (Principle of Humanity)
affect neutral states (Principle of Neutrality)
cause widespread, long-lasting and severe damage to the environment (Principle of Environmental Security)
use asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or substances (Principle of Non-Toxicity).
Nuclear weapons do not discriminate (Hiroshima, Chernobyl)
Nuclear weapons must not be used in retaliation of a conventional attack (The NATO still pursues its first strike policy)
Nuclear weapons generate unparalleled blast and heat effects, their power of destruction is unique, the effects of radiation cause ‘unnecessary suffering’
Nuclear weapons do affect neutral states (Chernobyl)
Nuclear weapons cause widespread, long-lasting and severe damage to the environment and to the people in the fallout area. The genetic effect is cumulative through subsequent generations. These effects are more severe, widespread and long-lasting than those of chemical weapons of which the development, production, stockpiling and use are already prohibited by a special convention.
There is no more poisonous weapon than the nuclear weapon.