International Commission of Jurists: US has led in serious erosion of human rights.

On the front page of Le Monde on Monday, February 16, 2009, I found this account.

The International Commission of Jurists, a non governmental organization based in Geneva that includes a number of well known professionals in international law, published on Monday, January 16, 2009, a critique of the breaches of human rights and of the important international texts on human rights committed by various nations in the fight against terrorist.  During a three year inquiry, nine judges, including Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and ex-commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, met victims of anti-terrorism as well as representatives of associations and governments in more than forty countries.

The result is alarming.  According to the report, several measures adopted by various countries since the attacks of September 11, 2001 “are illegal as well as counter productive” with regard to international law, and the “breaches of human rights are much more serious than had been imagined.”   The committee asserts that the juridical procedures that existed before that date were sufficient to counter terrorism.  According to the committee, several states, including some in the West, did not hesitate to renounce “the responsibilities they had taken on in the context of international treaties,” notably in overturning “the interdiction against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, forced disappearance, and the guarantee of due process.”

The United States are, in this regard, widely criticized for the prison at Guatanamo and the use of torture.  But the committee underlines the contradictions among the democratic nations which “participate today in the erosion of international law (…) by making themselves complicit in violations perpetrated by other states or in displaying tolerance in their regard.”  Basing their arguments on several historic examples such as that of Northern Ireland, the committee tried to show that the implementation of specific judicial and police procedures, in spite of international law, is often a bad solution because it heightens “community tensions” and “the recruitment of armed groups.”

Read the report here.
For myself, I have started writing to Obama every day.  I wish I though it were going to have some effect, but at least it is something I can do.  I will also participate in events on March 19th, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.


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