Friday, February 8, 2008

U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights denounces waterboarding

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken out unequivocally on the use of waterboarding by the United States while interrogating terrorism suspects. "I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture,"said the Honourable Louise Arbour in response to a question about whether U.S. officials could be prosecuted for employing the technique against suspected terrorists.
Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said.

"There are several precedents worldwide of states exercising their universal jurisdiction ... to enforce the torture convention and we can only hope that we will see more and more of these avenues of redress," Arbour said.
She pointed to the arrest warrant issued for Chilean thug Augusto Pinochet by a Spanish court in 1998, for crimes against humanity committed on the sovereign soil of Chile while he ruled the country by fear, intimidation and terror.

For those who might not be familiar with Ms. Arbour, she is a quite impressive woman. In 1996, she was appointed Chief Prosecutor of War Crimes for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia at The Hague. It was in that capacity that she served the indictment on then-president Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 for war crimes and genocide. Her actions were unprecedented. A sitting president or other head of state had never been called to account in front of an international court before she served her indictment.

She is also widely published on topics of criminal procedure, civil liberties and human rights, in both English and French. She is also a 2005 recipient of the Thomas J. Dodd Prize, awarded by the University of Connecticut for outstanding service in the areas of Human Rights and International Justice. The Dodd Prize is awarded biannually to an individual or group that has worked in an exceptional manner to promote global justice and human rights, and commemorates the exemplary life and career of Thomas Dodd, who is best known as the prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg - and did not let them off the hook when they claimed they were only following orders.

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