Daily Archives: February 5, 2016


Kafka 2016

To my astonishment, the FCO Official Spokesman has just confirmed to me that the FCO stands by Phillip Hammond’s statement that the members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are lay persons, and not lawyers. Even though every single one of them is an extremely distinguished lawyer.

I confess I am utterly astonished. I know there is nothing more dull than an old buffer like me droning on about falling standards in public life. But when I was in the FCO, the vast majority of colleagues would have refused to advance what is a total and outright lie, about which it cannot be argued there is an area of interpretation, doubt or nuance.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office officially states that the members of the UN Working Group are all lay people, and not lawyers. Given a chance to retract, they confirm to me that this is their official position.

I repeat again the cvs of all the Working Group.

Sètondji Adjovi (Benin, Second Vice-Chair) Adjovi, an academic and practitioner specialising in international criminal procedure and judicial reform, worked at the International Criminal Court and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda before his appointment to the UN WGAD.

Mads Andenas (Norway, Chair and member until mid-2015) Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention until mid-2015. Has previously held positions as Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London. Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo.

Mr. José Guevara (Mexico, First Vice-Chair) Guevara is a legal academic and practitioner who focuses on Human Rights Protection and International Criminal Law. Prior to joining the WGAD, worked in the NGO sector, Mexico City’s Ombudsman’s office and in government in the area of human rights. Guevara is the recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s New Executives Fund leading the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights.

Seong-Phil Hong (Chair-Rapporteur, Republic of Korea) An expert member of the Asian Council of Jurists of the Asia Pacific Forum and legal academic, Seong-Phil Hong has specialised in the case for reparations regarding Japan’s Enforced Sex Slavery during the Second World War and accountability for human rights violations by the North Korean regime.

Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine) A legal academic and practitioner whose expertise lies in international criminal justice and procedure. Tochilovsky was part of the Preparatory Committee and Commission that drafted the guidelines on criminal procedure for the International Criminal Court.

I honestly don’t know what to say, or to think, any more. When you have a government which believes it does not even have to pretend that its words and actions have even the remotest relationship to truth, I cannot conceive how society can continue to function in any direction other than fascist.

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Philip Hammond’s Astonishing Lie

The official statement by the UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond:

“I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.”

These are the cvs of the group (including the ex-chair who started the work). Hammond’s statement that they are lay people and not lawyers is a blatant, a massive, an enormous, a completely astonishing lie. Yet nowhere has the media called him on this lie.

Sètondji Adjovi (Benin, Second Vice-Chair) Adjovi, an academic and practitioner specialising in international criminal procedure and judicial reform, worked at the International Criminal Court and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda before his appointment to the UN WGAD.

Mads Andenas (Norway, Chair and member until mid-2015) Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention until mid-2015. Has previously held positions as Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London. Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo.

Mr. José Guevara (Mexico, First Vice-Chair) Guevara is a legal academic and practitioner who focuses on Human Rights Protection and International Criminal Law. Prior to joining the WGAD, worked in the NGO sector, Mexico City’s Ombudsman’s office and in government in the area of human rights. Guevara is the recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s New Executives Fund leading the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights.

Seong-Phil Hong (Chair-Rapporteur, Republic of Korea) An expert member of the Asian Council of Jurists of the Asia Pacific Forum and legal academic, Seong-Phil Hong has specialised in the case for reparations regarding Japan’s Enforced Sex Slavery during the Second World War and accountability for human rights violations by the North Korean regime.

Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine) A legal academic and practitioner whose expertise lies in international criminal justice and procedure. Tochilovsky was part of the Preparatory Committee and Commission that drafted the guidelines on criminal procedure for the International Criminal Court.

Leigh Toomey (Australia) An expert in the UN Human Rights system, Toomey has taught at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and has served as a UN human rights expert both in the capacity as an NGO representative and as a representative for Australia at the UN General Assembly and Commission for Human Rights.

It is worth noting that the UN decision accords very closely with the minority verdicts of the two dissenting UK Supreme Court judges in the deeply split UK Supreme Court decision on the case. So by calling the UN panel “ridiculous”, Hammond is saying the same of two UK Supreme Court justices.

You will not recall much media coverage of the dissenting verdicts in the UK Supreme Court decision. There was almost none. By contrast, the media are showing an obsessive interest in the dissenting Ukrainian member’s opinion in this UN decision.

Norwegian Professor Mats Andenas, the chair of the Working Group who started the work, has today stated that the UK and US put enormous political pressure on the members of the UN working group, which they had resisted courageously. Can anybody think of a reason why the dissenting Ukrainian member might have been less able to resist enormous pressure from the UK and US governments?

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Establishment Family Values

There has been a touching display of family values in the establishment’s full-throated attempt to roar down the United Nations today.

Joanna Gosling of BBC News won my prize for the news presenter who exuded the highest level of shrill indignation that the UN should dare to query the actions of the British Government. There was not, of course, any acknowledgement by the BBC that she is married to Craig Oliver, Cameron’s spin doctor in chief.

Meanwhile, over at Sky, Joan Smith of London Women against Violence was allowed a mind-numbingly long and uninterrupted interview in order to express her unmitigated certainty of Assange’s guilt. Nobody mentioned that at the time of the war crimes WikiLeaks revealed, she was the long-term partner of the Foreign Office minister, Dennis McShane (subsequently convicted and imprisoned for expenses fraud). Nor that she was appointed to her right-on sounding position by Boris Johnson, to whom she has been close.

To complete the picture Joshua Rozenberg writes as the Guardian’s legal expert. His piece is full of outright lies, including the remarkable one that Assange’s case was predicated on a claim of diplomatic immunity. The Guardian does not mention that Rozenberg is married to Melanie Phillips, the most barkingly right wing columnist in Britain (she still believes, you may recall, that Iraqi WMD lurk in a secret chamber under the Euphrates). Rozenberg shares with her the most ultra of Zionist beliefs.

Neo-con family values. You have to love them.

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Assange – A Fundamental Vindication

Julian Assange has never been charged with any offence. His detention has been unlawful since his very first arrest in the United Kingdom in 2010. There has never been any genuine attempt by the Swedish authorities to investigate the allegations against him. Those are the findings of the United Nations.

The UK and Swedish governments both participated fully, and at great expense to their taxpayers, in this UN process which is a mechanism that both recognise. States including Iran, Burma and Russia have released prisoners following determination by this UN panel, which consists not of politicians or diplomats but of some of the world’s most respected lawyers, who are not representing their national governments.

Countries who have ignored rulings by this UN panel are rare. No democracy has ever done so. Recent examples are Egypt and Uzbekistan. The UK is putting itself in pretty company.

It would be an act of extraordinary dereliction by the UK and Swedish governments to accept the authority of the tribunal, participate fully in the process, and then refuse to accept the outcome.

It is worth noting that the UN judgement vindicates precisely the arguments advanced by Assange’s lawyers before the UK supreme court, that there was no genuine judicial process in train against Assange in Sweden. I cannot express this better than John Pilger:

The Assange case has never been primarily about allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden – where the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the case, saying, “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape”, and one of the women involved accused the police of fabricating evidence and “railroading” her, protesting she “did not want to accuse JA of anything” – and a second prosecutor mysteriously re-opened the case after political intervention, then stalled it.

The British mainstream media has never fairly reported the ludicrous nature of the allegations against Assange. The establishment is very keen that the public do not know. It is worth noting that the only notice this blog has ever received from Google, that an article has been removed from search results, referred to the article in which I detailed and demolished the allegations against Assange. The UK mainstream media today are reporting with astonishment the UN decision and still refuse to report the details of the allegations against him, or the fact that they were dismissed by Sweden’s most senior prosecutor before being taken up (as Swedish law permits) by an openly politically motivated prosecutor from another region.

It is absolutely normal procedure, all around the world, for regime opponents to be charged with trumped up criminal charges rather than with political dissent. And not just in China or Russia. They tried it on me when I blew the whistle on torture and extraordinary rendition, with eighteen formal allegations against me, several of them criminal. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the most senior woman in the US Army, testified that Donald Rumsfeld personally approved the torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib and the very next day she was “caught shoplifting”. Scott Ritter, US Marine officer and WMD inspector in Iraq, was convicted of engaging, just after going public on absence of WMD, in online paedophile activity. We don’t know for certain what they did to David Kelly.

Anybody who believes the neo-con countries do not persecute dissidents is naïve in the extreme. The indignation at the UN calling them on it is both hilarious and chilling.

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