We need to look at the corruption of our legal structures and that is our lawyers and the BAR----to see where the US is now no better than a China or Russia as regards Rule of Law and justice. Back in the 1950s empire-building in the US may have been on the minds of some but we did not have the global corporate structures and global Wall Street filling our US policy with one war after the other---that was soon to come. These Geneva Convention policies and International Justice groups were never perfect but they did address those most violent of human rights violators with a semblance of real Rule of Law justice. Today, this process is simply window-dressing because most of the brutal dictators commitment the worst human right violations were installed by the US and work for US empire-building and neo-liberal International Economic Zone development.
Below we see a Chinese justice lawyer stating that if US did not support the Chinese leaders committing huge human rights violations--then maybe the Chinese people could change that leadership. This has been the story of these few decades and it is central to anti-American sentiments all over the world----AND THIS IS WHAT NOW COMES TO THE US-----WITH OUR US JUSTICE ARM OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH BEING COMPLETELY CORRUPTED.
NO ONE SHOUTS FDR UNITED NATIONS MORE THAN CLINTON/OBAMA AND INDEED THESE 1% WALL STREET GLOBAL POLS ARE BEHIND A UNITED NATIONS OPPOSITE OF WHAT IT WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED.
'What can you do? Just pretend that the fake is what’s real'.
‘The Barefoot Lawyer’: Q&A With Blind Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng
Mar 18, 2015 5:25 am HKT
In your book, you write that U.S. officials cared too much about giving China face. Do you think the U.S. is too quick to believe in the concept of face?
I think they’ve been fooled. I told officials inside the embassy, “If the Communist Party didn’t want to lose face, it wouldn’t do so many awful things.” All this talk about face is a trick to manipulate foreign governments — or put it another way, it gives Western government officials an excuse when they need to go back home and explain things to their own people. Maybe the U.S. realized that face was meaningless at the time, but they didn’t want to anger the party. What can you do? Just pretend that the fake is what’s real.
Uphold International Law
The UN Charter, in its Preamble, set an objective: "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained". Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization. This work is carried out in many ways - by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties - and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorize the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security, if it deems this necessary. These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivers its order on the request for the indication of provisional measures filed by Nicaragua on 11 October 2013 in the case concerning Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica).
Settling Disputes Between States
International Court of Justice
The principal judicial organ of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This main body of the UN settles legal disputes submitted to it by States in accordance with international law. It also gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it from authorized UN organs and specialized agencies. The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of nine years by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Courts and Tribunals
In addition to the International Court of Justice, a wide variety of international courts, international tribunals, ad hoc tribunals and UN-assisted tribunals have varying degrees of relation to the United Nations (such as the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon). These are established by (and are Subsidiary Organs of) the Security Council. The International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), were established by conventions drafted within the UN, but are now independent entities with special cooperation agreements.
What Is International Law?
International law defines the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other, and their treatment of individuals within State boundaries. Its domain encompasses a wide range of issues of international concern, such as human rights, disarmament, international crime, refugees, migration, problems of nationality, the treatment of prisoners, the use of force, and the conduct of war, among others. It also regulates the global commons, such as the environment and sustainable development, international waters, outer space, global communications and world trade.
The Security Council and International Law
Some of the action of the Security Council have international law implications, such as those related to peacekeeping missions, ad hoc tribunals, sanctions, and resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. In accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute, the Security Council can refer certain situations to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), if it appears international crimes (such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, the crime of aggression) have been committed.
The General Assembly and International Law
The UN Charter gives the General Assembly the power to initiate studies and make recommendations to promote the development and codification of international law. Many subsidiary bodies of the General Assembly consider specific areas of international law and report to the plenary. Most legal matters are referred the Sixth Committee, which then reports to the plenary. The International Law Commission and the UN Commission on International Trade Law report to the General Assembly. The General Assembly also considers topics related to the institutional law of the United Nations, such as the adoption of the Staff Regulations and the establishment of the system of internal justice.
General Assembly - Sixth Committee (Legal)The General Assembly’s Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. All UN Member States are entitled to representation on the Sixth Committee as one of the main committees of the General Assembly.
International Law Commission
The International Law Commission promotes the progressive development of international law and its codification. The Commission’s work on a topic usually involves some aspects of the progressive development, as well as the codification of international law, with the balance between the two varying depending on the particular topic.
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law is a core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, with universal membership, specializing in commercial law, with a focus on the modernization and harmonization of rules on international business. The UNCITRAL Secretariat has established a Case Law on UNCITRAL texts (CLOUT) system for collecting and disseminating information on court decisions and arbitral awards relating to the Conventions and Model Laws that have emanated from the work of the Commission.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas, establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations serves as the secretariat of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
UN Treaty Database
The Status of Multilaterial Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General online database provides the most detailed information on the status of over 560 major multilateral instruments deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and covers a range of subject matters, such as Human Rights, Disarmament, Commodities, Refugees, the Environment, and the Law of the Sea. This database reflects the status of these instruments, as Member States sign, ratify, accede to, or lodge declarations, reservations or objections.
The Internal Justice System at the United Nations
A new Internal Justice System for the United Nations was introduced in 2009, with the goal of having a system that was independent, professionalized, expedient, transparent and decentralized, with a stronger emphasis on resolving disputes through informal means, before resorting to formal litigation. Because the United Nations has immunity from local jurisdiction and cannot be sued in a national court, the Organization has set up an internal justice system to resolve staff-management disputes, including those that involve disciplinary action.
Neo-liberalism and the spread of International Economic Zones under global market and global Wall Street policies gained a stronger hold in US policy under empire-building Reagan but exploded under CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA. Just the nature of the structures of these global economic zones with the global human capital distribution structures WAS A HUMAN RIGHTS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY structure. Yet the people appointed to UN positions were being appointed by the WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE POLS working for the 1% during these decades. So all of what were crimes against humanity are simply considered rules of global economic trade with global trade policies building in the human rights violations.
TODAY'S US ASYMMETRIC WARFARE WITH DRONES HAS BEEN FOR A DECADE CALLED CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS---erasing this concept of national sovereignty. This is critical as Trans Pacific Trade Pact goes further in ending national sovereignty even for the US----handing control to a global corporate tribunal guilty of the worst of human rights violations.
WE ARE IN AN ERA OF ANTI-GENEVA CONVENTION HUMAN RIGHTS while the UN is PRETENDING to still be monitoring against all this.
'The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations'.
Below you see the the fastening pace of US connection to these original UN International human rights provisions and it came as US empire-building was exploding after Korean War, Vietnam War ignored our own US Constitutional laws regarding going to war as only occurring under threat of impending attack. IRAQ was a fabricated war against a sovereign nation and today's drone attacks in dozens of nations are a complete dismantling of recognition of national sovereignty-----AND NOW IT IS COMING BACK TO THE US AND OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.
Legal Arguments for Avoiding the Jurisdiction of the Geneva Conventions
- "Iraq's a nation. The United States is a nation. The Geneva Conventions applied. They have applied every single day from the outset."—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, May 20, 2004. 
- The Geneva Conventions do not apply to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda."—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, May 13, 2004. 
Also see Jennifer Elsea, "Terrorism and the Law of War: Trying Terrorists as War Criminals before Military Commissions," Congressional Record Service, updated December 11, 2001; "This report supercedes 'Trying Terrorists as War Criminals', RS21056 (Oct. 29, 2001), a summary treatment of the military tribunal issue prepared prior to the issuance of President Bush's Order of November 13, 2001."
The American people will no doubt have differing views on what were international condemnation of violations of UN Geneva Convention rules of war and human rights laws connected to this. What we want to do this week is look at how the dismantling of global human rights and crimes against humanity driven by CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA-----is leading to the breakdown of our own US Constitutional rights and Rule of Law. We are watching Congress and global pols installing International Economic Zone policies long in place overseas in developing nations having authoritarian societal structures and known to be brutal and repressive violating global human rights laws----------coming to our US cities with global militarized and security forces known globally to ignore INTERNATIONAL LAW.
I encourage my right-leaning friends who may be pro-military intervention with empire-building to stop and think what all this looks like when brought back to the US used on American citizens. US International Economic Zones under Trans Pacific Trade Pact will operate free from any US sovereignty laws-----and with that brings a global corporate tribunal feeling it can do in our US cities what they do overseas under the guise of security.
U.S. War Crimes in Iraq:
A Prima Facie Case
Respectfully submitted to the International Criminal Court
by Paul Rockwell
- War Crimes From The Air
- Depleted Uranium
- Cluster Bombs Are Indiscriminate
- A Backward Glance
- Still We Hold Our Tongues
It was not until the mid-19th century, after the founding of the International Red Cross, that modern laws of war were framed and codified laws that reflect minimal obligations of all nations and individuals in times of war. Humanitarian laws were not written by pacifists or idealistic reformers. They were conceived by kings, tsars, chancellors, and military leaders shocked by the carnage of their own organized violence.
The United States is bound by customary law and international laws of war, by the Hague Conventions of 1889 and 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Nuremberg Conventions adopted by the United Nations (U.N.) December 11, 1945 -- all of which set limits beyond which, by common consent, decent peoples will not go. Under the Constitution, all treaties are part of the supreme law of the land. Humanitarian law rests on a simple principle; that human rights are measured by one yardstick. Without that principle, all jurisprudence descends into mere piety and power.
When laws of war were codified, military necessity ceased to be the final arbiter of human rights and civility. Nor do violations of the laws of war by one belligerent vindicate the war crimes of another.
For the high officials who planned and supervised military operations in Iraq, the "shock-and-awe" campaign encompasses three major types of war crimes, all in violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949: The "wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages" in violation of the Nuremberg principles. The premeditated use of weapons known to cause unnecessary suffering and indiscriminate destruction. The use of depleted uranium, the poison of radiation that is destroying the lives of untold numbers of civilians and soldiers, including American personnel.
We are not referring to incidental transgressions of humanitarian law, or even the war crimes of desperate infantrymen in the heat of battle -- like soldiers who recently fired bullets into crowds of anti-occupation demonstrators in Iraq -- follies committed out of fear, confusion, and the hatred that all war evokes. It's not the crimes of passion, but the crimes of calculation that require moral reappraisal.
War Crimes From The Air
"The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or destruction not justified by military necessity." -- Nuremberg conventions, Principle VI
Combatants "shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and, accordingly, shall direct their operations only against military objectives." -- Geneva Conventions, part IV, Article 48
Under the Geneva Conventions and customary law, it is a war crime to launch indiscriminate attacks affecting the civilian population or civilian objects in the knowledge that such attacks will cause excessive loss of life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects. The distinction between combatants and non-combatants is fundamental to all humanitarian law.
No Iraqi citizen who survived the air war in Iraq, especially the sustained six-day bombing of Baghdad, a city of 5 million people, will ever forget the devastation and terror of the "shock-and-awe" campaign against Iraq.
According to Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor, the air war over Iraq was "the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that U.S. forces have fought since Vietnam." Reports gathered from hospitals, homes, mosques and morgues show a level of civilian casualties that far exceeds the First Gulf War, which cost about 5,000 civilian lives. Nearly 100 villagers, for example, "were killed by U.S. bombing and strafing on April 5, including 43 in one house. 'There was no military base here,' said Hamadia. 'This is just a peasant village.' " (Christian Science Monitor, May 22)
The Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict (CIVIC) deployed 150 surveyors and carried out detailed interviews with victims. CIVIC recorded more than 1,000 civilian deaths in Nasariya alone.
In early April, Agence France Presse reported that "twenty people, including 11 children, were killed Saturday when a nighttime air raid hit a farm in the Al Janabin suburb on the edge of Baghdad." The next day Al Jazeera TV showed footage of Bartallah, a predominately Christian town north of Monsul, suffering heavy civilian casualties after a night of intense bombing. According to the chief surgeon at the local hospital, 120 dead and wounded civilians were brought into the hospital in one week. Commenting on the Iraqi toll, a representative of the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad said, "It is a big disaster. Thousands are dead; thousands are missing."
The Christian Science Monitor estimates that 30 civilians die for every U.S. military casualty, a ratio that manifests criminality of military operations under Bush and Rumsfeld.
Writing for the Independent (U.K.) Robert Fisk, an un-embedded international reporter known for his impassioned dispatches, wrote: "On April 8 three weeks into the invasion, the Americans dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on the Baghdad residential area of Mansur. They knew they would kill civilians because it was not a 'risk-free venture'. They killed 14 civilians in Mansur, most of them members of a Christian family. No American officers have apologized for this appalling killing, and I can promise them that the baby I saw being placed under a sheet of black plastic was very definitely not Saddam Hussein."
Day after day, Robert Fisk describes the bombs that fail to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, the "wanton destruction of cities."
"It was an outrage," Fisk writes, "an obscenity ... the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smoldering car. Two missiles from an American jet killed them all -- by my estimate, more than 20 Iraqi civilians torn to pieces ... Abu Taleb Street was packed with pedestrians and motorists when the American pilot approached through the dense sandstorm. ... Everyone I spoke to heard the plane.
"Abu Hassan and Malek Hammond were preparing lunch for customers at the Nasser restaurant on the north side of Abu Taleb Street. The missile that killed them landed near to the carriage way, its blast tearing away the roof of the cafe and cutting the two men to pieces. A fellow worker led me through the rubble. At least 15 cars burst into flames, burning many of their occupants to death."
"It is especially forbidden to employ poison or poisoned weapons, to kill treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army, to employ arms, projectiles or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." -- Hague Convention IV, Article 23
Eleven miles north of the Kuwaiti border on the "Highway of Death," disabled tanks, armored personnel carriers, gutted public vehicles -- the mangled metals of Desert Storm -- are resting in the desert radiating nuclear energy. American soldiers who lived for three months in the toxic wasteland now suffer from fatigue, joint and muscle pain, respiratory ailments -- a host of maladies often known as the Gulf War Syndrome.
Ever since the end of Desert Storm, where the Pentagon unloaded 350 tons of depleted uranium (DU), American officials were well aware of the health hazards of the residue that is collected from the processing of nuclear fuel. When the Pentagon authorized new use of depleted uranium for the preemptive invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration not only committed a war crime against Iraq, it demonstrated reckless disregard for the health and safety of American troops.
Of all the violations of the laws of war by the highest officials of the country, none is more alarming or portentous than the widespread, premeditated use of depleted uranium in Iraq. What if other countries follow Bush's example?
The use of depleted uranium is a war crime. Article 23 of the Geneva Convention IV is clear: "It is forbidden to employ poison or poisoned weapons, to kill treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army, to employ arms, projectiles or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." the Geneva Protocol of 1925 explicitly prohibits "asphyxiating, poisonous or other gasses, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices."
The radiation produced by depleted uranium in battle is a poison, a carcinogenic material that causes birth defects, lung disease, kidney disease, leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, bone cancer, and neurological disabilities.
Depleted uranium is much denser than lead and enables U.S. weapons to penetrate steel, a great advantage in modern war. But under the Geneva Conventions, "the means of injuring the enemy are not unlimited." When DU munitions explode, the air is bathed in a fine radioactive dust, which carries on the wind, is easily inhaled, and eventually enters the soil, pollutes ground water, and enters the food chain. Unexploded casings gradually oxidize, releasing more uranium into the environment. Handlers of depleted uranium in the U.S. are required to wear masks and protective clothing -- a requirement that Iraqi and American soldiers, not to mention civilians, are unable to fulfill.
After the Gulf War in 1991, Iraqi hospitals recorded a surge in cancer and birth defects. Hospital statistics from Basra show that in 1988 there were 11 cancer cases per 100,000 people. By 2001, after schools, homes, and entire neighborhoods were leveled from the air, the number increased to 116 per 100,000. Breast and lung cancer and leukemia showed up in all areas contaminated by depleted uranium. Dr. Jawad al-Ali, cancer specialist at the Basra Training Hospital, noted that "The only factor that has changed here since the 1991 war is radiation." Thirteen members of his staff, all present when the hospital area was bombed, are now cancer patients.
The Christian Science Monitor recently sent reporters to Iraq to investigate long-term effects of depleted uranium. Staff writer Scott Peterson saw children playing on top of a burnt-out tank near a vegetable stand on the outskirts of Baghdad, a tank that had been destroyed by armor-piercing shells coated with depleted uranium. Wearing his mask and protective clothing, he pointed his Geiger counter toward the tank. It registered 1,000 times the normal background radiation. The families who survived the tragic decade of sanctions, even the children who recently survived the bombing of Baghdad, may not survive the radiated aftermath of military profligacy. Uranium remains radioactive for two billion years. That's a long time for reconstruction.
According to Dr. Doug Rokke, U.S. Army health physicist who led the first clean-up of depleted uranium after the Gulf War, "Depleted uranium is a crime against God and humanity." Rokke's own crew, a hundred employees, was devastated by exposure to the fine dust. "When we went to the Gulf, we were all really healthy," he said. After performing clean-up operations in the desert (mistakenly without protective gear), thirty members of his staff died, and most others -- including Rokke himself -- developed serious health problems. Rokke now has reactive airway disease, neurological damage, cataracts, and kidney problems. "We warned the Department of Defense in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their arrogance is beyond comprehension."
The growing outcry against the use of depleted uranium is not a matter of minor legal technicalities. The laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and inhumane effects beyond the field of battle. Nor can weapons be legally deployed in war when they are known to remain active, or cause harm after the war concludes.
The use of depleted uranium is a crime whose horrific consequences have yet to run their course.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush said that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa. Bush lied. Authorized by the Pentagon, 2,000 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq -- and the inevitable tragedies of radiation sickness -- came from U.S. merchants of death, not Africa. The epitaph for the Punic wars is quite appropriate for the U.S. in Iraq: "They made a wasteland and called it peace."
Cluster Bombs Are Indiscriminate
It is a war crime to launch "an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians." Geneva Conventions, Article 85 "It is especially forbidden to kill treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army." -- Hague Conventions, Article 23
"The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited" -- Hague Conventions, Article 22
The formal war in Iraq has ended, and most of the big guns have fallen silent. Yet the death toll continues to rise, not merely because of the brutality of occupation and the resistance, but because of one of the most heinous, unpredictable weapons of modern war -- the cluster bomb.
All over Iraq, unexploded cluster bombs, originally dropped by U.S. troops in populated areas, are still killing and maiming civilians, farm animals, wildlife -- any living thing that touches them by accident.
A cluster bomb is a 14-foot weapon that weighs about 1,000 pounds. When it explodes it sprays hundreds of smaller bomblets over an area the size of two or three football fields. The bomblets are bright yellow and look like beer cans. And because they look like playthings, thousands of children have been killed by dormant bomblets in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Each bomblet sprays flying shards of metal that can tear through a quarter inch of steel.
The failure rate, the unexploded rate, is very high, often around 15 to 20 percent. When bomblets fail to detonate on the first round, they become land mines that explode on simple touch at any time.
Human Rights Watch reports that 1600 Kuwaiti and Iraqi civilians have been killed, many more injured, by explosive duds following the Persian Gulf war.
Under the Geneva Conventions, cluster bombs are criminal weapons because it is impossible to use them in significant numbers without indiscriminate effects. It is a war crime to use weapons in the knowledge that they "will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians."
In the war in Bosnia in 1995, Major General Michael Ryan recognized the inherent danger to civilians and, out of respect for the laws of war, prohibited the use of cluster bombs in the European theatre. According to Air Force reports, "The problem was that the fragmentation pattern was too large to sufficiently limit collateral damage and there was also the further problem of potential unexploded ordinance."
A U.N. clearance expert said that "Our experience in Kosovo showed us that children and youths are highly susceptible to the submunitions."
There is a humanitarian crisis in every country where the U.S. dropped cluster bombs -- in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Under Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions on Civilians, the Occupying Power has a responsibility to return evacuated personnel to their homes at the end of hostilities -- a responsibility which live cluster bombs make impossible to fulfill. Thousands of displaced persons in Afghanistan cannot return to their homes because their farms, houses and villages are replete with unexploded bomblets.
Before the invasion of Iraq, Human Rights Watch called for a moratorium on the use of cluster bombs. Human Rights director Steve Close predicted that "Iraqi civilians will be paying the price with their lives and limbs for many years." A U.N. weapons commission described cluster bombs as "weapons of indiscriminate effects."
In defiance of U.N. reports, Air Force studies, and repeated warnings from Human Rights Watch, Rumsfeld reauthorized the expanded use of cluster bombs with full knowledge of their indiscriminate and treacherous results.
The consequences of his war crime, as reported by international journalists and photographers, are appalling.
On April 10th Asia Times described the carnage of U.S. cluster bombs. "All over Baghdad, the city's five main hospitals simply cannot cope with an avalanche of civilian casualties. Doctors can't get to the hospitals because of the bombing. Dr. Osama Saleh-al-Deleimi at the al-Kindi hospital confirms the absolute majority of patients are women and children, victims of ... shrapnel and most of all, fragments of cluster bombs. 'They are all civilians, ' he said. 'The International Committee of the Red Cross is in a state of almost desperation ... casualties arriving at hospitals at a rate of as many as 100 per hour and at least 100 per day.' "
Anton Antonowicz reported in The Mirror (U.K.) from a hospital in Hillah: "Among the 168 patients I counted, not one was being treated for bullet wounds. All of them, men, women, children, bore the wounds of bomb shrapnel. It peppered their bodies. Blackened the skin. Smashed heads. Tore limbs. A doctor reported that 'All the injuries you see were caused by cluster bombs ... The majority of the victims were children who died because they were outside.'"
Reporting from Baghdad March 27th, Doug Johnson wrote: "I'm overwhelmed and tired. For three days now I've concentrated on visiting injured civilians in hospitals and seeing bombed sites. This morning we interviewed an extended family of 25 that had been living in six houses together on one farm just outside of Baghdad. At 6:00 p.m. yesterday, B-52s dropped cluster bombs on their farm destroying all six houses, killing four and severely injuring many others. Even the farm animals were killed. We were told that the yellow cylinders landed in their yard, and when they and the animals crept closer to investigate, the bombs detonated."
During the invasion of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld lauded the accuracy of stealth bombers and missiles -- a boast met with mockery in the streets of Baghdad. But whatever we think about Rumsfeld's humanitarian missiles, he cannot plead ignorance about the traits and effects of cluster bombs. Ever since the Vietnam catastrophe, from the hospitals of Saigon to the clinics of Afghanistan, into the wailing hospitals of Iraq, doctors have been digging shrapnel out of the maimed bodies of once-playful children all around the world. Cluster bombs were always known for their inaccuracy, their indiscriminate and unpredictable nature.
A Backward Glance
Even before the U.S. invasion began, as Bush prepared to shock and awe a country crippled by sanctions, Iraqis feared for their lives, for their farms and small businesses, and for the safety of their children. Anticipation itself is a kind of terror. Thousands of citizens fled the city of Baghdad in search of safety, if not peace. No one knew what structures would be targeted, or when the rain of death would commence, but well-educated Iraqis knew all about U.S. air power -- the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the B-52 carpet bombing in Vietnam, the indiscriminate use of napalm and cluster bombs, the infamy of Agent Orange.
Gross violations of the laws of war in Iraq did not begin with George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. The path from the first Gulf War to the current occupation is filled with horrific episodes.
Every major city in Iraq has stories to tell about civilian casualties, the chaos caused by fire storms from the skies. The entire Arab world remembers the infamous bombing of the civilian bomb shelter in Amariyah, where two firebombs burned more than a thousand civilians to death in the early morning hours of February 13th, 1991. While the story of Amariyah spread by word of mouth throughout Iraq, Western journalists acquired a videotape of the catastrophe. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, "the unedited Baghdad video feeds showed scenes of incredible carnage. Nearly all the bodies were charred into blackness. Rescue workers collapsed in grief."
After the first Gulf War, hundreds of soldiers and veterans, including active duty troops and reservists, came together and signed a call-to-conscience: "We are veterans of the United States Armed Forces. In the last Gulf War, as troops we were ordered to murder from a safe distance. We remember the road to Basra -- the Highway of Death -- where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We bulldozed trenches, burying people alive."
While the mass burial in the sand, the raw images of death, never appeared on national TV -- owing to rigorous censorship of the sordid realities of Desert Storm -- the soldiers themselves will never forget what took place on the road to Basra, when thousands of disabled Iraqi troops, seeking to surrender, were mowed down by fuel air explosives, napalm bombs, and even super-bombs nearly equivalent to low-yield, short-range nuclear missiles.
The U.S. Army Field Manual, the GI's authoritative guide on the laws of war that contains extensive passages from the Geneva Conventions, states: "Members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for."
Article 23 of the Hague Conventions is unequivocal: "It is especially forbidden to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion."
At the March-April European Parliament hearings at the end of the Gulf War, Mike Erlich, member of the Military Counseling Network, described the execution of defeated soldiers: "Hundreds, possibly thousands of Iraqi soldiers began walking toward the U.S. position unarmed, with their arms raised in an attempt to surrender. However, the orders for this unit were not to take any prisoners...the commander of the unit began firing. At this point, everybody in the unit began shooting. Quite simply it was a slaughter."
Portions of the desert story did appear in the print media, after Newsday reporters got to see Pentagon videotapes of the deadly assault on defenseless units. According to Newsday (September 12, 1991) entire units of the Iraqi Army did not want to fight. Vehicles with white flags of surrender were destroyed, and pilots in attack planes likened the campaign to "shooting fish in a barrel." Veterans of Desert Storm describe the massacre on the road to Basra as "the turkey shoot".
The slaughter of helpless troops was followed by a second war crime: mass burial of Iraqi soldiers, some dead, some still living. Mounting ploughs on their tanks, U.S. soldiers were ordered to bulldoze Iraqi bodies into trenches, soon covered with sand.
Burial of the dead weighs heavily on religious people, and military authorities know the importance of proper burial to the morale of the survivors. The Geneva Conventions not only prohibit desecration of the dead, they require belligerents "to search for the dead and prevent them from being despoiled."
The televised and sanitized triumph of technology in Desert Storm will never eclipse the soldiers' memory of human carnage. Soldiers who are forced to act against the laws of war, against their religious faith and conscience, must live with their acts for the rest of their lives.
Still We Hold Our Tongues
Robert Fisk, the British journalist who witnessed U.S. air raids from the streets, markets, and hotels of Iraq, writes: "Three days ago, an entire family of nine was wiped out in their home. Pilots fire through computer-aligned co-ordinates. Of course the pilot who killed the innocents could not see his victims."
Fisk's insight about the insularity of industrial warfare recalls the writings of George Orwell, who survived another blitzkrieg, the air war over London in 1941. Orwell wrote: "As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil. One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of national loyalty. Christianity and international socialism are as weak as straw in comparison to it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not."
Even before Hannah Arendt coined her ironic phrase, the "banality of evil," George Orwell called attention to the normalcy of war crimes in the 20th century, and he wrote extensively about the power of nationalism in destroying the essential decency of civilized, democratic peoples. Nationalism creates a culture of impunity that makes atrocities invisible, if not acceptable. No republic in time of war has ever held its own leaders accountable for war crimes committed in its name. One prod of the nerve of nationalism, and the plainest facts can be denied. If one harbors anywhere in one's mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. For the nationalist, actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. And there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
Both Orwell and Arendt believed that, when great wrongs have taken place, it is the duty of moral men and women to call attention to such acts regardless of who actually commits them.
Years ago in the midst of France's brutal war in Algeria, the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre admonished the French intelligentsia: "It is not right, my fellow-countrymen, you who know very well all the crimes committed in our name. It's not at all right that you do not breathe a word about them to anyone, not even to your own soul, for fear of having to stand in judgment of yourself. I am willing to believe that at the beginning you did not realize what was happening; later, you doubted whether such things could be true; but now you know, and still you hold your tongues."
Here we have the weakening of national sovereignty laws around Geneva Convention and rules of war as the US restructures its military from boots on the ground to asymmetric drone warfare claiming they are now after KNOWN TERRORISTS. These events below were declared by those nations' leaders as illegal and unsupported with that nation's authority. Many of these cases are simply OK'ed by a nation's leader tied to soon after inflated wealth while the nation's citizens decry this loss of sovereignty and human rights. More and more the 1% and their 2% in nations having International Economic Zones----and this is coming to the US------simply hand over sovereign rights to the global 1% further eliminating what national sovereignty is around the world.
People arguing over whether societal structures of nations vs nation-states vs tribal region sovereignty structures need to forget which structure is best to look at what ONE WORLD ONE GLOBAL CORPORATE RULE would look like because it completely eliminates ANY concept of human capital having societal constructs ------which means no rights, no culture, no control in where, when, or how the global labor pools is moved. It eliminates the structures deemed to protect citizens----and replaces them with simply entities securing rights given to global corporations and the 1%.
DID THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO JUSTICE FROM THE MASSIVE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE FRAUDS OF TENS OF TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS? NOT IF GLOBAL CORPORATE PROFIT TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. THIS IS WHY AMERICANS ARE LOSING ALL THEIR WEALTH TO CONTINUOUS FRAUD AND CORRUPTION.
Americans are watching these few decades as the US is now labelled one of the greatest in violation of human rights and crimes against humanities---so how does that transfer to how these same US Congressional and Presidential-level agency citizens look at our rights as citizens? I can attest these 5% to the 1% look right through a person whether in the US or overseas---they see no difference.
US Government Concludes no “War Crimes” in Kunduz Strike, But Fails to Explain Why
By Sarah Knuckey, Anjli Parrin and Keerthana Nimmala
Friday, April 29, 2016 at 6:25 PM
The US government’s 120-page report on the Kunduz airstrike — in which US forces killed 42 civilians and destroyed a Médicins Sans Frontières hospital — found that US forces violated their rules of engagement and violated fundamental rules of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict). A summary released with the report also concluded that no “war crimes” were committed because US forces had no “intention” to strike a hospital or civilians. The report, however, fails to explain this conclusion. In particular, the report does not examine why the series of mistakes and errors that were found do not satisfy a “recklessness” test for intention.
Given the grave consequences of the strike, and the seriousness of the violations that were found, the government should explain its reasoning. Below is a short guide to the law of armed conflict violations committed, and an explanation of the inadequacies of the report’s war crimes findings.
Violations of international humanitarian law
According to the summary, the investigation found that “certain personnel failed to comply with the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict.” Violations of fundamental rules of international humanitarian law in the Kunduz strike included:
1. Failure to take precautions in attack
The investigation found a breach of the rule that attacking forces must take feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians. The breach arose from failures on the part of those involved in the attack to determine or obtain information about whether the target was actually a lawful military objective. According to the report, when faced with inconsistent information, the US forces failed to reconcile the differing accounts, and an accurate target grid location was ignored “in favor of a vaguely described compound” that later turned out to be the MSF hospital. Further, when an aircrew sensor operator “raised doubt” about the threat to US forces not matching a ground force commander’s description of the scene, instead of attempting to get more information, they continued with the attack.
2. Failure to distinguish between civilians and combatants
The investigation found that commanders did not respect the principle of distinction, which prohibits attacks directed against civilians. The report found:
Neither commander distinguished between combatants and civilians nor a military objective and protected property. Each commander had a duty to know, and available resources to know that the targeted compound was protected property.
The report states that the MSF compound was not a “time-sensitive target” and that the behavior of the nine unarmed people targeted (sitting in chairs and walking around) required more investigation to establish if they were combatants. Yet commanders failed to further investigate their target when they had reason to do so. Instead, they fired 211 rounds for an estimated nine people and then delayed issuing a cease fire order, all of which violated the principle of distinction.
3. Failure to respect the requirement of proportionality in attack
The investigation found that the attack was “facially disproportional” because the MSF hospital was not a lawful military objective. Thus, at “the point of engagement, any use of force against it was disproportional.”
War crimes: Not committed, but not explained
The five-page unclassified “summary” of the investigation provides that:
[T]he investigation did not conclude that these failures amounted to a war crime. The label “war crimes” is typically reserved for intentional acts — intentionally targeting civilians or intentionally targeting protected objects. The investigation found that the tragic incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew that they were striking a medical facility. [emphasis in the original]
While it is legally correct to state that the war crime of murder requires an “intent” to kill a protected person (e.g., a civilian), nowhere in the 120-page report is there an analysis of the legal meaning of “intention.” The report actually makes no specific or direct findings about war crimes. (“War crime” appears only once, in reference to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan).
Under international law, “premeditation” is not necessary for the war crime of murder, but the precise scope of intention is less clear. Numerous cases have stated that genuine mistakes and negligence are insufficient for murder. But a number of international cases and UN-mandated inquiries have found that “recklessness” or “indirect intent” could satisfy the intent requirement. Article 85 of Additional Protocol I also provides that intent encompasses recklessness. (See The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, from page 449, for a full discussion.)
The investigation released today makes clear that US forces committed numerous violations of fundamental rules of the laws of war, violations which should and could have been avoided. Yet the report provides zero direct analysis of whether these violations amounted to war crimes. Given the seriousness of the violations committed, the US should specifically explain why the facts do not amount to recklessness, and explain the legal tests applied for the commission of war crimes.
Vietnam joins the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Fri, 11/08/2013 - 14:30
Vietnam became the latest country to join the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) when Ambassador Le Hoai Trung signed the convention at the United Nations headquarters on November 7.
I shared the article where a Chinese activist states the obvious----what does it matter if laws are on the book if not enforced and that is what our United Nations and Geneva Convention and Internatonal Justice organizations have become. This article calls it HAVING NO TEETH. In the aftermath of WW2 these international justice organizations moved fast and with little bias towards meeting the spirit of these protections and today---the 1% are operating just as they were before a UN was installed giving only LIP SERVICE to what were strong international justice platforms. It is this global International Economic Zone structure with the 1% global corporate tribunal acting as one governing body over dozens of nations leading to growing use of same tactics of repression.
IT IS OUR LEGAL TEAMS ASSEMBLED BY CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA THAT HAVE NO ATTACHMENT TO EXISTING INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL LAW CREATING THESE NEW PRECEDENTS SHAPING GLOBAL LAW FOR ALL INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ZONES.
The US has these few decades been identified as a leader in torture under many different definitions so it brings those actions back to the US where we are now shouting loudly against the use of these tactics on American citizens.
'This makes Vietnam the 81st signatory to the UNCAT'.
For those not knowing---Vietnam has one of he most brutal dictators with tremendous human rights violations. The reason it was given this status of being part of this policy of torture was to allow it to join the Trans Pacific Trade Pact......most of the nations tied to TPP simply write laws making them look interested in human rights when they have no intentions of changing. Our national leaders are allowing this!
CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
The States Parties to this Convention,
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Recognizing that those rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter, in particular Article 55, to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Having regard to article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,Having regard also to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975 (resolution 3452 (XXX)),
Desiring to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world,
Have agreed as follows:
Part I Article 1
- For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
- This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.
'The government may then be shamed into fulfilling its obligations. It seems that the effectiveness of the Convention against Torture and its Committee would certainly be increased by a greater awareness of the potential of the Convention to be used in such a manner'.
Please glance through this long article to see the goals of the United Nations human rights and rules of war have largely been ignored and things are back to where they were before WW2. What does this look like in what we constantly hear will be a WW3 which is slated this time to include US soil?
How Effective is the United Nations Committee Against Torture?
This article examines the question of how states have responded to the comments of the United Nations Committee against Torture through an analysis of eight Western European states. It is concluded that the Committee's recommendations have had a substantial impact in four of the states surveyed, however only a limited effect in two other states, and little or no impact in the two remaining states. These findings lead to concerns as regards the effectiveness of the Committee against Torture. The article focuses on the Concluding Observations made by the Committee on the reports submitted by the states in question.
The United Nations Committee against Torture is responsible for monitoring the compliance of states with their duties under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (henceforth referred to as ‘the Convention’). The reporting procedure constitutes the main mechanism through which the Committee performs its monitoring functions.1 All states parties to the Convention are obliged to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how the rights contained in the Convention are being implemented in their jurisdictions. States have a duty to make an initial report one year after accession, and then to submit a report every four years thereafter. As Byrnes comments, ‘The examination of a state's report under a treaty can provide an occasion for exerting international pressure on the state. If members of a supervisory body are strongly critical of a state or express the view that the state has not carried out its obligations under the treaty, this can serve to put some pressure on a government, particularly if the proceedings receive publicity internationally or nationally.’2
Through its Concluding Observations on the reports submitted by states, the Committee can make specific recommendations to states on the measures needed in relation to various issues in their particular jurisdictions. However, are these recommendations being implemented by states?
This article seeks to shed some light on this question by means of a study of the responses of states to the Concluding Observations of the Committee. The eight Western European states that have been considered by the Committee on at least two occasions during the period of time covered by Committee sessions 25 to 40 (2000–2008) will be examined in this survey. It is important for this study that the states have been considered on at least two occasions, as this gives some indication of the progress made by states. It should be emphasized nevertheless that although this survey gives some idea of the impact of the recommendations of the Committee, it cannot be assumed for certain that any progress made by states is as a direct result of the recommendations made by the Committee on a previous occasion. Progress could have been prompted by pressure emanating from other sources, such as academic commentators. This sample consists of relatively wealthy states, all of which should have the resources to implement the recommendations of the Committee. The states that will be examined are Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Iceland, and Luxembourg.
The Committee against Torture considered the state of Norway in 2002. In responding to the state's report, the Committee commended the Government for its high level of respect for human rights generally and also for its positive record regarding the implementation of the Convention.3 The Committee noted with satisfaction that a Plan of Action for Human Rights had been adopted, which included measures aimed at the further implementation of the Convention. Guidelines had been issued on the right to access to health care for persons in police custody and on the notification of arrest to relatives and lawyers. Proposals had been made to incorporate a new provision into the Penal Code to prohibit and penalize torture, and to amend the Criminal Procedure Act to reduce the use of solitary confinement in custody and strengthen judicial supervision of this measure.4
However, the Committee continued to be concerned regarding the use of pre-trial solitary confinement in custody,5 and asked that information on the outcome of the proposal to amend the Criminal Procedure Act be included in the state's next periodic report. The Committee also requested that information be included on other steps taken by the state to respond to concerns about this issue. In addition, it recommended that legislation be enacted to amend the Penal Code to introduce the offence of torture, in accordance with the proposal that had been made. The Committee requested that its recommendations be widely disseminated in Norway in the appropriate languages. 6
Norway was next considered by the Committee in 2007. Again the state was commended for its compliance with its obligations under the Convention. The Committee welcomed the fact that a new provision had now been incorporated in the Penal Code to prohibit and penalize torture. The Criminal Procedure Act had been amended to reduce the use of pre-trial solitary confinement and to strengthen judicial supervision of this measure. In addition, solitary confinement had been abolished as a sanction. The state was commended for the measures it had taken to ensure that the Committee's Concluding Observations were promptly translated into Norwegian and distributed widely. The Committee also noted with satisfaction that a central unit had been established for the investigation of alleged crimes by members of the police and that additional resources had been allocated to the investigation of reports of such crimes.7
It seems, therefore, that the Concluding Observations of the Committee have been very effective in Norway. All the issues of concern that were raised in the Committee's Concluding Observations of 2002 had been addressed by the next consideration of the state in 2007. However, in its 2007 Concluding Observations the Committee also encouraged the state to take further steps in relation to these matters. For example, the Government was encouraged to compile detailed statistics on the use of solitary confinement so as to verify the effectiveness in practice of the recent legislative amendments.8 In addition, the Committee raised various other matters which had not been mentioned in its previous Concluding Observations, for example in relation to the effectiveness of human rights training programmes for police and prison officers.9 Overall, the Committee's 2007 Concluding Observations were much more detailed than the recommendations that had been made in 2002. Nevertheless, it appears that the statements made by the Committee against Torture are having a very substantial impact on the policies and practices of the state of Norway.
2 The Netherlands
The Netherlands was considered by the Committee against Torture in 2000. The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of three parts – the European part, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee noted with satisfaction that no allegations of torture in the state had been made. A National War Criminals Investigation Team had been established to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of war crimes, which could include torture. The Committee welcomed the fact that the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba had both recently made the act of torture punishable in criminal legislation as a separate criminal offence. The Netherlands Antilles had established a public Complaints Committee on police brutality and a national Investigation Department to investigate allegations of breaches of authority by public servants. In addition, a number of measures had been taken to improve conditions in prisons.10
However, the Committee expressed concern regarding allegations that had been made about police brutality in Aruba.11 It recommended that measures be taken in the European part of the Netherlands to incorporate the Convention fully into national law, including the adoption of the definition of torture contained in Article 1 of the Convention. Under this provision, torture is defined as ‘any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity’. The Committee also stated that further measures should be taken to improve prison conditions in the Netherlands Antilles.12
The Netherlands was next considered in 2007. The Committee noted with satisfaction the ongoing efforts undertaken by the state to combat torture and to guarantee the rights of persons not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The definition of torture contained in Article 1 of the Convention had been incorporated into the national legislation of the European part of the Netherlands. An Internal Investigations Bureau had been established to receive and investigate complaints of ill-treatment by police officers in Aruba. Prison conditions in the Netherlands Antilles had been improved. In addition, new legislation on trafficking in human beings had been adopted. The Committee commended the state for the work which had been undertaken by the special team established to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The state was also commended for its cautious approach in relation to the use of diplomatic assurances and its policy of not practising extraordinary rendition of suspects.13
As with Norway, it seems that the recommendations of the Committee against Torture are having a substantial impact on the policies and practices of the Netherlands. In 2000 the Committee had expressed concern about allegations of police brutality in Aruba. The state responded by setting up an Internal Investigations Bureau to investigate reports of ill-treatment. In 2000 the Committee had urged the state to incorporate the definition of torture contained in Article 1 of the Convention into domestic law, and by the next consideration of the Netherlands this step had been taken. Likewise, the Dutch government complied with the Committee's recommendation that the state adopt further measures to improve prison conditions in the Netherlands Antilles. Interestingly, as found in the study of Norway, the Committee's 2007 Concluding Observations are far lengthier than its earlier recommendations. For example, the Committee's Concluding Observations of 2007 contain detailed consideration of the position of asylum-seekers in the Netherlands and also of the issue of trafficking. The Concluding Observations of 2000 contain no mention of these areas. However, the increased level of detail in the Committee's Concluding Observations is to be welcomed and should lead to a greater degree of effectiveness.
Portugal was considered by the Committee against Torture in 2000. The Committee noted ‘the ongoing initiatives of the state party to ensure that its laws and institutions conform to the requirements of the Convention’.14 It welcomed in particular a number of developments that had taken place, such as a decision to establish an inspectorate of prisons; the creation of a database to streamline information relating to cases of abuse of public power; and the enactment of regulations governing police use of firearms. Regulations had also been enacted regarding conditions of detention in police lock-ups and a practice had been initiated of monthly prison visits by magistrates to receive prisoners’ complaints concerning their treatment. In addition, active measures had been taken to reduce violence in prisons and a new system of police training had been introduced.15
Nevertheless, the Committee expressed concern at continuing reports of deaths and ill-treatment arising out of contact by members of the public with the police.16 It was also concerned about continuing reports of inter-prisoner violence in prisons.17 The Committee therefore recommended that the state continue to adopt disciplinary and educative measures with the aim of moving the police culture to one that respected human rights.18 In particular, the state should ensure that the criminal investigation and prosecution of public officers were undertaken as a matter of course where the evidence showed that they had committed torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.19 It was also recommended that the state continue to take steps to curtail inter-prisoner violence.20
The state of Portugal was again considered in 2007. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee commended the state on ‘its progress in the protection and promotion of human rights’ since the consideration of its last periodic report.21 The Committee welcomed the adoption of a new Penal Code and a new Code of Criminal Procedure. A Police Code of Ethics had been approved and an Inspectorate-General for Justice Services had been established. In addition, legislation had been enacted whereby foreign nationals could not be deported to a country where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.22 The Committee also welcomed the reform of prison legislation; however, it remained concerned regarding reports of continuing violence among inmates. It therefore recommended that the state intensify its measures aimed at preventing such violence. 23
It seems that Portugal constitutes another example of a state that is responding well to the recommendations of the Committee against Torture. One of the Committee's main concerns about this state related to a lack of respect for human rights standards on the part of the police. Portugal certainly seems to have taken heed of the Committee's recommendations in this area. Again it is notable that the 2007 Concluding Observations of the Committee are much more detailed than its earlier recommendations and include issues such as domestic violence and human trafficking.24 It is likely that this added level of detail will further increase the effectiveness of the Committee.
Sweden was considered by the Committee against Torture in 2002. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee ‘emphasize[d] with satisfaction the strong and steadfast commitment to human rights manifested by Sweden and the positive responses to the Committee's earlier recommendations’.25 In 1997 the Committee had expressed concern regarding information it had received on isolated cases of ill-treatment by the police.26 In 2000 an official parliamentary committee was established to determine whether the existing framework for handling allegations of criminal actions by the police was satisfactory.27 Similarly, in 1997 the Committee had been concerned about certain methods used by the police in dealing with public demonstrations28 and had recommended that the state reconsider methods used with regard to crowd control.29 In its Concluding Observations of 2002, the Committee welcomed the establishment of an official committee entrusted with the task of determining the steps that should be taken by the police on the occasion of public demonstrations to protect public order and also the right to demonstrate. The Committee also welcomed the adoption of a national action plan for human rights, which included the issue of international protection against torture as a priority topic. A special commission had been established to review legislation and case law regarding the application of decisions relating to expulsion from Swedish territory. Numerous projects had been implemented to enhance the national legal system for the protection of human rights, particularly in relation to the improvement of the procedure regarding requests for asylum. It was noted with satisfaction that the Swedish government had given an assurance that it acted in accordance with the Committee's observations concerning individual complaints and that it recognized its duty not to send persons back to states where there was a risk that they might be tortured. The Committee welcomed the fact that the national Aliens Act contained a provision to enable the immigration authorities to base their decisions directly on observations made by international bodies.30
In 1997 the Committee had highlighted the fact that Sweden has a dualistic theory of incorporation of international treaty norms into its domestic law, which meant that the provisions of the Convention against Torture needed enabling legislation to become part of Swedish national law. The Committee stated that the continued failure of Sweden to enact such legislation rendered the full implementation of the Convention more difficult.31 It had therefore recommended that the state incorporate the provisions of the Convention against Torture into domestic law in the same manner as it had already incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights.32 Particular concern had been expressed that the state had not incorporated into national law the definition of torture contained in Article 1 of the Convention.33 However, by 2002 the state had not taken any steps in relation to this problem. Appropriate legislation for the incorporation of the Convention against Torture had not been adopted and national legislation still did not contain a definition of torture in keeping with Article 1 of the Convention. Also, neither torture nor cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment was identified as a specific offence in Swedish criminal law.34
In its Concluding Observations of 2002, the Committee also expressed concern about allegations that some foreigners had been sent back to countries with which they had no significant ties. The state was urged to ensure that if foreigners were sent back, they were expelled to countries with which they had real ties and where there were no substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture. It was highlighted that the national Special Control of Foreigners Act allowed foreigners who were suspected of terrorism to be expelled under a procedure which might be contrary to the Convention, as there was no provision for appeal. The state was urged to bring this legislation into line with the Convention. The Committee recommended that the Swedish government strengthen the machinery for following up guarantees of proper treatment given by states to which foreigners were expelled, and also that more comprehensive investigations be undertaken into the human rights situations in the countries of origin of asylum-seekers. 35
The Committee remained concerned regarding the occurrence of cases of excessive force being used by police personnel and prison guards, leading to the death of the persons concerned. Allegations had been made of imprecise and inadequate guidelines and lack of training for police and prison guards in relation to the use of force. The Committee urged the state to ensure that all allegations of violations by such personnel were investigated impartially and promptly. Also, human rights education programmes for police and prison guards should be strengthened. In addition, the Committee pointed out that there appeared to be no legislative rule which clearly set out that statements obtained under duress could not be used as evidence in judicial proceedings and recommended that such a prohibition be clearly formulated in national law.36
Sweden was again considered by the Committee in 2008. In its Concluding Observations, the Committee welcomed ‘the ongoing efforts at the state level to reform its legislation, policies and procedures in order to ensure better protection of human rights, including the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment’.37 Particular mention was made of an amendment to the Aliens Act, which introduced a new appeal system and provided for the granting of refugee status to persons claiming fear of persecution on grounds of gender and sexual orientation. New legislation had been adopted on fundamental safeguards for detainees, such as access to a lawyer and notification of custody. A common Action Plan had been developed by the Migration Board, the Border Control Police, and the Social Services which aimed to minimize the risks of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children disappearing and becoming victims of trafficking. In addition, the government had allocated additional resources to the Prison and Probation Administration to create better facilities in prisons.38
However, the Committee regretted that the state had still not changed its position in relation to the incorporation into national law of the crime of torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention.39 Although measures had been taken to ensure fundamental safeguards for detainees, the Committee was of the opinion that more steps needed to be taken. For example, notification of custody was not systematically delivered to family members and was frequently delayed.40 As regards the position of asylum-seekers, pre-deportation detention was common, and there was no absolute limit on the length of time that an asylum-seeker could be detained.41 Also, the Committee expressed concern that the principles of effectiveness, independence, and promptness may not have been heeded in all cases of complaints of police misconduct.42
On the whole, Sweden seems to have responded fairly well to the recommendations of the Committee against Torture. As recognized by the Committee, the state appears to hold a steadfast commitment to the better protection of human rights standards, including the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. However, it is true that Sweden does not uniformly comply with the recommendations of the Committee. One particular issue that remains problematic is the failure of the state to incorporate into domestic law the crime of torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention. Sweden has been repeatedly urged to take this step, however so far it has not done so. Nevertheless, in general the recommendations of the Committee do seem to have a significant impact in this state.
The state of Denmark was considered by the Committee against Torture in 2002. In its Concluding Observations, the Committee welcomed the way in which the state had addressed in a separate part of its report previous recommendations that had been made.43 In 1997 the Committee had urged the state to consider incorporating the provisions of the Convention against Torture into national law.44 It seems that Denmark responded to this recommendation, as in 2002 the Committee welcomed the fact that a proposal had been made within the state to incorporate the Convention into domestic law.45 In its 2002 Concluding Observations, the Committee also noted with satisfaction that legislation had been adopted to afford a more protective status to asylum seekers and that efforts had been made to ensure that educational programmes for police included human rights components.46
However, in 1997 and also in previous Concluding Observations, the Committee had urged the state to incorporate into national law provisions on the crime of torture, including a definition of torture in conformity with Article 1 of the Convention.47 By 2002 the state had still not taken this step and the Committee again reiterated its recommendation in this regard.48 In 1997 the Committee had also been concerned about the use of solitary confinement in custody49 and had recommended that the use of this measure be abolished, or at least that it should be strictly and specifically regulated by law and that judicial supervision should be introduced.50 In 2002 the Committee welcomed the adoption of an amendment to the Act on the Administration of Justice, which tightened the controls over the use of solitary confinement, decreased its use, and provided for judicial control over solitary confinement while on remand.51 However, concern was expressed about the lack of effective recourse procedures against decisions imposing solitary confinement upon persons serving sentences.52 It was recommended that the state continue to monitor the effects of solitary confinement on detainees, and that the law governing solitary confinement for convicted prisoners should establish adequate review mechanisms.53
The Committee considered the state of Denmark again in 2007. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee welcomed ongoing efforts made to improve conditions in prisons and to introduce alternative measures to custody, such as the use of electronic monitoring.54 It was noted with appreciation that the Danish government had decided to allocate additional funds to improving the living conditions in asylum centres.55 Funds had also been allocated to projects to facilitate the rehabilitation of traumatized refugees and their families residing in Denmark.56 In addition, the Committee welcomed the state's cooperation with non-governmental organizations engaged in eradicating torture and providing assistance to victims.57
However, the Committee regretted that the Convention against Torture had still not been incorporated into national law.58 Also, the specific offence of torture, as defined in Article 1 of the Convention, had not been incorporated into the Danish Criminal Code.59 As regards the issue of solitary confinement, the Committee noted with appreciation that the upper limit for solitary confinement of persons under the age of 18 had been reduced from eight weeks to four weeks. Nevertheless, despite legislative amendments to limit the use of solitary confinement, the Committee remained concerned about the placement of persons in prolonged solitary confinement during pretrial detention. In particular, persons suspected of offences against the independence and security of the state could be held indefinitely in solitary confinement during pretrial detention. However, the Committee did note that there was a judicial review mechanism in place to review the need to continue solitary confinement.60
Denmark has certainly adopted various measures during the period of time in question with the aim of protecting the right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, all of which have been met with approval by the Committee. However, three recurring themes can be seen in the Committee's recommendations. These are the incorporation of the Convention against Torture into the domestic law of Denmark; the incorporation of a specific offence of torture, as defined in Article 1 of the Convention, into the Danish Criminal Code; and the issue of solitary confinement. Despite repeated urging by the Committee, the first two of these recommendations have not been implemented. In 2002 the Committee noted that a proposal had been made within the state to incorporate the Convention into national law; however, this proposal was ultimately rejected. As regards the issue of solitary confinement, the state has certainly taken a number of steps to tighten controls and decrease the use of this measure. However, in 2007 the Committee still remained concerned about the placement of persons in prolonged solitary confinement during pretrial detention. On the whole, therefore, it seems that the recommendations of the Committee have had only a limited effect on the state of Denmark.
6 The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic was considered by the Committee against Torture in 2001. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee welcomed the adoption of a new Aliens Law and a new Asylum Law. It also commended the state on an amendment to the Citizenship Law which resolved problems of statelessness that had affected the Roma minority.61 However, concern was expressed about instances of racism and xenophobia, including an increase in racially motivated violence against minority groups. The Committee remained concerned regarding continuing incidents of discrimination against Roma. There had been reports of degrading treatment by the police of members of minority groups and it had been alleged that the police and judicial authorities had failed to provide adequate protection to Roma from violent attacks. In addition, it had been alleged that the police had failed to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The Committee recommended that the state continue its efforts to counter all forms of discrimination against minorities. It also urged the state to increase its efforts to combat police ill-treatment of minorities and the failure to provide adequate protection. 62
Concern was expressed about allegations of the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officials during and after demonstrations. The Committee expressed particular concern regarding alleged instances of inhuman and degrading treatment of persons arrested and detained as a result of demonstrations that had taken place during an International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting in Prague in September 2000. It was recommended that the state ensure the independence and thoroughness of investigations of all allegations of ill-treatment, both in general and in connection with the events of September 2000. The Committee noted the absence of a mechanism of external control over the work of the police and recommended that such a mechanism be introduced. It drew attention to the lack of adequate guarantees of the rights of persons deprived of liberty to notify a third party of their choice, to have access to a doctor of their choice, and to have access to a lawyer of their choice from the outset of their custody. It was recommended that these rights be guaranteed. The Committee noted the lack of legal regulation of external inspections of the prison system and the lack of an effective mechanism for processing prisoners’ complaints. It also noted the prevalence of inter-prisoner violence. The Committee recommended that the state establish an independent and effective system of control over prisoners’ complaints and for the external inspection of the prison system. It also requested that the state provide information in its next periodic report on the possibilities for redress and the rehabilitation services available for victims of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.63
The Czech Republic was again considered by the Committee in 2004. On this occasion, the Committee welcomed amendments to the Residence of Aliens Act, which established an independent judicial second instance body to review asylum cases. The Act on Serving Prison Terms had been amended to offer greater protection to detainees. The Penal Code had also been amended to provide that offences allegedly committed by members of the police would be investigated by the State Prosecuting Attorney, instead of by the police investigator. In addition, a National Strategy on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings had been introduced.64
However, the Committee expressed concern regarding the persistent occurrence of acts of violence against Roma and the alleged reluctance on the part of the police to provide protection and to investigate such crimes. It also noted that there were still no explicit legal guarantees of the rights of all persons deprived of liberty to have access to a lawyer and to notify their next of kin from the outset of their custody. Concern was again expressed about the occurrence of inter-prisoner violence and also about the lack of complete information from the state on compensation and redress provided to victims of torture.65
It seems that, as with Denmark, the recommendations of the Committee against Torture have had only a limited impact in the Czech Republic. Although legislative amendments were made to offer greater protection to detainees, by 2004 there was still no legal guarantee of the rights of those deprived of their liberty to notify their next of kin and to have access to a lawyer from the outset. Also, it appears that little had been done to reduce inter-prisoner violence. Likewise, acts of violence against Roma still occurred and an alleged reluctance on the part of the police to provide protection and to investigate such crimes remained. In addition, despite the Committee's recommendation in 2001 that information be provided in the state's next periodic report on the possibilities for redress for victims of torture, it seems that this request was not met. It is, however, true that the state did take steps to ensure the independence of investigations involving offences allegedly committed by members of the police.
The Committee against Torture considered the state of Iceland in 2003. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee noted with satisfaction that it had not received any complaints of torture having occurred in Iceland.66 It welcomed certain legislative developments, such as amendments to the Police Act, which provided for allegations of offences having been committed by members of the police force to be submitted directly to the General Prosecutor for investigation.67 The Committee noted with satisfaction that remand prisoners who were kept in solitary confinement had the right to have this measure reviewed by a court and that they must be informed of the existence of this right.68 In the Committee's Concluding Observations on the state's previous report, concern had been expressed about the use of solitary confinement, particularly as a preventive measure during pre-trial detention.69 It had been recommended that the Government review the provisions regulating pre-trial detention in order to reduce the number of cases to which solitary confinement could be applicable.70 On the evidence of the Committee's comments in 2003, it seems that significant progress had been made on this issue.
However, in 2003 the Committee commented that it remained concerned that Icelandic law did not contain specific provisions to ensure that any statement made as a result of torture could not be invoked as evidence in judicial proceedings.71 In its previous Concluding Observations in 1998, the Committee had recommended that the relevant national legislation be amended explicitly to exclude any statement made as a result of torture.72 It is clear therefore that the state did not comply with this recommendation. In 2003 the Committee again urged the state to make the necessary legislative amendment.73 Another issue that remained problematic was the fact that torture was not considered to be a specific crime in the penal legislation of Iceland. In 1998 the Committee had urged the state to make torture a specific crime in national legislation,74 however, this statement was ignored and the Committee had to reiterate its recommendation in 2003.75
Iceland was next considered by the Committee in 2008. In its Concluding Observations, the Committee regretted that the state had still not incorporated torture as a specific crime into national criminal legislation.76 It also remained concerned that evidence that might have been obtained through torture could still be used in judicial proceedings.77 The Committee again reiterated its previous recommendations on both these matters. As regards the issue of solitary confinement in custody, the Committee expressed concern about reports of the frequent and excessive use of this measure. It urged the state to investigate the matter and adopt measures to restrict the use of solitary confinement.78
The recommendations of the Committee against Torture seem to be having very little impact on the policies and practices of Iceland. Despite repeated urging by the Committee, the state has still not made torture a specific crime under national legislation. Similarly, it has not made the necessary legislative amendments to ensure that evidence that may have been obtained by the use of torture is inadmissible in judicial proceedings. In 2003 it appeared that progress had been achieved on the issue of solitary confinement; however in 2008 the excessive use of this measure had again become problematic.
The state of Luxembourg was considered by the Committee in 2002. In responding to the state's report, the Committee welcomed the fact that torture had been incorporated into the Penal Code as a specific crime and also as an aggravating circumstance of crimes against the person. It welcomed the establishment of an Advisory Commission on Human Rights and the ratification by Luxembourg of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.79 However, the Committee expressed concern that minors ordered to be placed in disciplinary centres were put in adult prisons, and urged the state to refrain from this practice. In addition, it expressed concern about the use of solitary confinement in custody, particularly as a preventive measure during pre-trial detention. It was recommended that solitary confinement be strictly regulated by law and that judicial supervision of this measure be strengthened, with a view to its abolition.80
Luxembourg was next considered in 2007. In its Concluding Observations on the state's report, the Committee again expressed concern about the placement of minors in adult prisons and urgently reiterated its previous recommendation that this practice be abolished. It also regretted Luxembourg's persistent use of solitary confinement and the state's intention to maintain the use of this measure despite the Committee's previous comments on the issue. Again the Committee urgently reiterated its recommendation that solitary confinement be strictly and specifically regulated by law and that judicial supervision be strengthened. The state was urged to take the necessary steps to put an end to the practice of solitary confinement and alter the relevant regulations accordingly.81
The recommendations of the Committee against Torture seem to be having very little impact in the state of Luxembourg. In 2002 the Committee had emphatically urged the state to refrain from putting minors into adult prisons and to regulate strictly the use of solitary confinement, with a view to the abolition of this measure. However, in 2007 minors were still being placed in adult prisons and it was Luxembourg's stated intention to maintain its use of solitary confinement, despite the Committee's views on this issue. It certainly appears that the Committee's recommendations are having little, if any, effect on the policies and practices of Luxembourg.
It seems that the recommendations of the Committee against Torture are having a very substantial impact in Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal, and a significant effect in Sweden. However, they appear to be having only a limited impact in Denmark and the Czech Republic, and little or no effect in Iceland and Luxembourg. This inconsistency leads to concerns regarding the effectiveness of the Committee against Torture, particularly as the states surveyed are all relatively wealthy and should therefore have the resources to implement the Committee's recommendations in their entirety.
There are certainly significant problems with the enforcement of international human rights standards. Copelon remarks that ‘the international human rights system still operates more in rhetoric than in reality.’82 Although governments will usually acknowledge that human rights considerations should have a part to play in their decisions, nevertheless they may also argue that other factors are of greater importance.83 As Byrnes comments, ‘The limitations of international law generally when it comes to enforcement of binding standards are well known, and international human rights law is no exception in that regard.’84 For example, the UN has no real method of forcing governments to alter their policies. The human rights treaty bodies can highlight the shortcomings of states, thus bringing international pressure to bear on governments and shaming them into compliance. As Risse and Sikkink comment, ‘Countries most sensitive to pressure are not those that are economically weakest, but those that care about their international image.’85 However, if a state still consistently refuses to act in accordance with human rights principles, there appears to be little that can be done. It seems that the impact of the UN human rights treaties depends largely on the degree of commitment held by states to give effect to their obligations. A major difficulty with the enforcement of the Convention against Torture is that it has no official ‘teeth’. If a state refuses to comply with its provisions, the Committee against Torture cannot impose sanctions: for example, no fines can be ordered. Essentially, as Vesa comments when dealing with international human rights systems, ‘one should remain aware of an overarching issue that straddles all human rights systems; enforceability is still a lingering weakness’.86
However, a major part of the value of the statements of international human rights bodies lies in the fact that they can be used by Non-Governmental Organizations to put pressure on governments to comply with their obligations. National NGOs can play a substantial role in ensuring that the Convention against Torture is firmly embedded in local cultures. Essentially NGOs can publicize the fact that the state has obligations under the Convention and that it is failing to comply with these duties. The government may then be shamed into fulfilling its obligations. It seems that the effectiveness of the Convention against Torture and its Committee would certainly be increased by a greater awareness of the potential of the Convention to be used in such a manner.
Our police officers do not need to take on the dangers of a global militarized zone-----it is bad for police and citizens.
Below you see what will become the elimination of convention protections for refugees of war and civil displacement. Today, the top crime against humanity is the global labor pool that is the human capital global distribution system and it has operated these few decades while the UN remains tied to the nations building these International Economic Zones creating expanded slave trade and blurring the definition of what A REFUGEE is. If a citizen is running away from International Economic Zone brutalities and militaristic repression-----they are refugees. With Wall Street global pols appointing these UN folks----there will be no mention of International Economic Zones being the top cause of refugee status----they focus only on civil wars in creating refugees.
As Congress passes laws directed at Homeland Security and defining US citizens and people on our soil as potential terrorists......the more immigrants from around the world come ----the more our entire nation will be under the threat of terrorism and these laws get more and more authoritarian and repressive.
THAT IS WHERE 1% WALL STREET GLOBAL POLS ARE MOVING WITH THESE LAWS AND FAILURES TO ENFORCE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. THEY ARE SETTING THE STAGE TO OPERATE IN THE US AS THEY DO OVERSEAS.
When American citizens are pushed to become that EX-PAT overseas looking for work----where will these lines be drawn over refugee and global labor pool?
'The comments are in response to the Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who said last week that he wanted to “change the rules of the game” by rolling back the 1951 refugee convention, the UN treaty signed in Geneva in the aftermath of the second world war that obliges its signatories to offer asylum to people fleeing danger'.
We will discuss policy this week taking these concepts locally----looking at how our lawyers and justice departments are restructuring towards this stance being taken globally. Did you know the Black Lives Matters' movement is tied to these international stances----where police actions are defined as those taken globally in International Economic Zones and not by our US Constitution. These police actions are tied to what is called INSURGENTS---NON-COMBATANTS----and not citizens. Black citizens may think this is about race---but it is more about breaking down social norms in the US to broaden these policing actions to all population groups.
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
Adopted on 28 July 1951 by the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons convened
under General Assembly resolution 429 (V) of 14 December 1950
Entry into force: 22 April 1954, in accordance with article 43Preamble
The High Contracting Parties,
Considering that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly have affirmed the principle that human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms without discrimination,
Considering that the United Nations has, on various occasions, manifested its profound concern for refugees and endeavoured to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of these fundamental rights and freedoms,
Considering that it is desirable to revise and consolidate previous international agreements relating to the status of refugees and to extend the scope of and the protection accorded by such instruments by means of a new agreement,
Considering that the grant of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries, and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations has recognized the international scope and nature cannot therefore be achieved without international co-operation,
Expressing the wish that all States, recognizing the social and humanitarian nature of the problem of refugees, will do everything within their power to prevent this problem from becoming a cause of tension between States,
Noting that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is charged with the task of supervising international conventions providing for the protection of refugees, and recognizing that the effective co-ordination of measures taken to deal with this problem will depend upon the co-operation of States with the High Commissioner,
Have agreed as follows :
Article 1 - Definition of the term "refugee"
A. For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "refugee" shall apply to any person who:
(1) Has been considered a refugee under the Arrangements of 12 May 1926 and 30 June 1928 or under the Conventions of 28 October 1933 and 10 February 1938, the Protocol of 14 September 1939 or the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization;
Decisions of non-eligibility taken by the International Refugee Organization during the period of its activities shall not prevent the status of refugee being accorded to persons who fulfil the conditions of paragraph 2 of this section;
(2) As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
In the case of a person who has more than one nationality, the term "the country of his nationality" shall mean each of the countries of which he is a national, and a person shall not be deemed to be lacking the protection of the country of his nationality if, without any valid reason based on well-founded fear, he has not availed himself of the protection of one of the countries of which he is a national.
UN backlash against call to scale back Geneva convention on refugees
Senior officials warn against Danish prime minister’s proposal to revise 1951 UN treaty, saying it risks the destruction of ‘a milestone of humanity’
Wednesday 6 January 2016 10.30 EST Last modified on Wednesday 6 January 2016 10.50 EST
A high-level proposal to reduce western obligations to refugees risks the destruction of “a milestone of humanity” and would “renounce millennia” of human progress, two senior UN officials have said in separate interviews.
The comments are in response to the Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who said last week that he wanted to “change the rules of the game” by rolling back the 1951 refugee convention, the UN treaty signed in Geneva in the aftermath of the second world war that obliges its signatories to offer asylum to people fleeing danger.
Rasmussen mooted changing the treaty so that refugees can be sent back to transit countries such as Turkey, the springboard for most Syrian and Afghan refugees who attempt to reach Europe. Under the terms of the convention, refugees cannot be returned to Turkey because it does not recognise the rights of refugees from the Middle East.
With more than a million asylum seekers reaching Europe by sea last year, and with no legislative means of rejecting many of their applications, Rasmussen now wants to scale back Europe’s obligation to provide them with sanctuary.
In a television interview, he was quoted as saying: “If this continues or gets worse … we will get to the point where we’ll have to talk – and Denmark won’t be able to do it alone – about adjusting the rules of the game.”
In response, two UN officials have warned against dismantling a treaty that rights watchdogs see as one of the crowning achievements of the post-Holocaust era.
In an interview with the Guardian, François Crépeau, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said: “We shouldn’t touch the Geneva convention … The refugee convention is the embodiment of an age-old institution. In every civilisation, there has always been [the concept of] asylum – in Greek tragedy, in the Bible – [and] the refugee convention is an modern embodiment of this age-old asylum tradition. Refugee protection is at the root of many civilisations and to take that away would be to renounce millennia of a tradition of hospitality.”
In separate comments, Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, said: “The refugee convention has saved millions of lives and is one of the greatest human rights instruments that has ever been put into effect. It is a milestone of humanity developed in the wake of massive population movements that exceeded even the magnitude of what we see today. At its core the convention embodies fundamental humanitarian values.
“The biggest challenge to refugee protection is most certainly not the convention itself but rather ensuring states comply with it. The real need is to find more effective ways to implement it in a spirit of international cooperation and responsibility-sharing.”
Crépeau, a law professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, argued that the refugee crisis need not place a particularly high burden on western countries if they all play their part in resettling refugees in a methodical fashion. He cites the aftermath of the Vietnam war as a useful precedent, when the countries of the global north resettled millions of refugees from Indochina with no long-term negative effects.
Crépeau said: “If we decided collectively as global north countries – the 28 EU countries plus US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, representing 900 million inhabitants – that we would resettle 4 million Syrians over the next eight years at 500,000 per year, [which is] half the number that Germany has received this year … divided between the 32 countries, it would be very small. For the UK it would be around 35,000. It’s a very manageable number.”
If not, Crépeau warns that people will come anyway. “As long as Europeans are not able to sit down and agree such a programme, well it’ll [continue to] be chaos on the beaches … It’s shooting oneself in the foot because there will be another 1 million more people coming this year. If people are coming in the winter when it’s cold, imagine the rate in the summer.”
He added: “It’s going to continue. It’s not going to stop.”
In an attempt to reduce the flow of refugees across Europe, several countries including Denmark have introduced border checks – upending the concept of free movement within most of the EU that was enshrined by the Schengen agreement in 1985, a treaty that is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of European integration.
Nevertheless, the flow of refugees to Greece, the main migrant gateway to Europe, remains at record levels. Despite worsening weather, an increasingly hostile welcome in Europe, and a crackdown on smugglers in Turkey, January’s daily arrival figures are about 11 times higher than this time last year.
The Danish prime minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment.