Kafka 2016 229

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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229 thoughts on “Kafka 2016

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  • fwl

    Craig, if you can be so certain that the Swedish judiciary would lack backbone and judicial independence (and I am not necessarily against you there but have no facts to form a view, only a suspicion) then do you not also anticipate some bias in the UN Working Group?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    07/02/2016 6:36am

    Extremely grateful for this link. I was not aware of it, and I commend it to all: it is of the first importance that a scholar in international law is prepared to defend in public the Working Group’s conclusions, given the immediate barrage of condemnation they have attracted. I’ll be so bold as to post the link again if you don’t mind.


    My belief is that, after the convocation of hired liars promptly wheeled out to rubbish the Working Group has returned to the shadows, scholars keeping their heads down at the moment will get going on this, and it will be quietly discovered that the Working Group are actually not a bunch of nutters after all.

    I am looking forward, in particular, to examining Rosenberg’s article in detail. Who knows, perhaps he will even show his face on here as he once did before.

    Many thanks,


  • fwl

    Thanks for that link JS-D. Any articles on the extent to which the working group’s decisions have resulted in a government releasing a detainee?

    The media should be clear that the decision is an advisory one not a judicial one.

    The Foreign Secretary’s objection is basically (1) its not a court therefore so what an (2) they are not qualified to speak as experts.

    Of course all governments routinely rely on complacent commissioned reports to support whatever they wish to do.

    They don’t like it when what appears to be an independent report advises against them. Should we be surprised?

    Did the Foreign Secretary lie? Well, that depends on whether the panel are practising as lawyers? If not then he spun the truth, which is not lying. I will look further, but I would hope that the panel are not practising lawyers. One expects the Foreign Secretary to have skill with dissembling the actuality.

    As to the underlying charges against Assange; yup suspect its a stitch up.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “I firmly believe myself that the judges will be fixed.”

    That is a view (but not a fact) you’re entitled to.

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that you’re right and Mr Assange is convicted of whatever charge is finally brought against him.

    What happens then? I suppose he would have to serve time in Sweden irrespective of whether the US asks for his extradition?

    Another thought occurs: suppose you’re wrong and the court isn’t fixed and that Mr Assange therefore walks free. Would he then not be at risk of extradition to the US – assuming the US were to ask for his extradition – from almost any country he were to find himself in?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    “One expects the Foreign Secretary to have skill with dissembling the actuality.”

    Or, more to the point, his officials. 🙂

    As Craig will be happy to confirm.

  • fwl

    Habbs – quite. I approve of Craig’s blog, but wish he didn’t go in for polemic. I can see why he does it, but in my view it undermines his argument more so than the subsequent melange of our motley posts. Peter Dale Scott is forensic, but wisely pulls his punches. Punching is not for diplomats. That for the followers!

  • John Spencer-Davis

    07/02/2016 12:44pm

    Not my link – AAMVN gets the credit.

    Craig Murray says at least three members of the Working Group are practising lawyers. I assume he knows what he is talking about.

    Kind regards,


  • Dave Lawton

    @Craig “I firmly believe myself that the judges will be fixed.”

    And if they are Freemasons they will definitely be fixed for sure.And this is a fact not a fiction.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    07/02/2016 1:22pm

    I don’t know, I suggest you ask Craig. I raised this point myself before, and so did Fred, and in response Craig said that three were practising lawyers. That’s all I know.

    Kind regards,


  • Fwl

    I appreciate that there has been criticism of reading elsewhere and posting so forgive me.

    The working group’s mandate is (a) to (f) below and in so doing it should follow the principles (1) to (3).

    It is not a court and its work is to be carried out with discretion.

    If it finds that there has been arbitrary deprivation of liberty (an interesting test, which has been ignored, it would seem to me, by the various journalists who just bang on about how can it be an arrest if he chooses to be in the embassy) it reports to the Government to encourage action, but is charged with creating a public debate on a particular detention.

    It at first presents to the Government concerned and then due course its opinion may find its way into the annual report.


    (a) To investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or otherwise inconsistently with the relevant international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the relevant international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned;

    (b) To seek and receive information from Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and receive information from the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives;

    (c) To act on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and to bring to their attention these cases;

    (d) To conduct field missions upon the invitation of Government, in order to understand better the situations prevailing in countries, as well as the underlying reasons for instances of arbitrary deprivation of liberty;

    (e) To formulate deliberations on issues of a general nature in order to assist States to prevent and guard against the practice of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and to facilitate consideration of future cases;

    (f) To present an annual report to the Human Rights Council presenting its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

    Furthermore, the Human Rights Council encourages the Working Group in fulfilling its mandate:

    (1) To work in cooperation and dialogue with all those concerned by the cases submitted to it, and in particular with States that provide information which should be given due consideration;

    (2) To work in coordination with other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, with other competent United Nations bodies and with treaty bodies, bearing in mind the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in such coordination, and to take all necessary measures to avoid duplication with those mechanisms, in particular regarding the treatment of the communications it receives and field missions;

    (3) To carry out its task with discretion, objectivity and independence.

    If the Group considers that the case is not one of the arbitrary deprivation of liberty, it shall render an opinion to this effect;

    (i) If the Group considers that further information is required from the Government or the source, it may keep the case pending until that information is received;

    (ii) If the Group considers that it is unable to obtain sufficient information on the case, it may file the case provisionally or definitively;

    (iii) If the Group decides that the arbitrary nature of the deprivation of liberty is established, it shall render an opinion to that effect and make recommendations to the Government.

    The opinion is sent to the Government, together with the recommendations. Two weeks after this notification, the opinion is also conveyed to the source for information.

    The opinions are published in an addendum to the report presented annually by the Working Group to the Human Rights Council at the Group’s scheduled reporting session.

  • Fwl

    JS-D, sorry Craig did name which members are said to be practitioners in his post. Mr Adjovi , Mr Guevara and Dr Tochilovsky. The UN profiles seem to use more express terminology for Tochilovsky than for the other two, but this may be inadvertent.

    I see that the UN security council are to meet to discuss the Republic of North Korea missile test and so it will be interesting to consider the credentials of those who opinions are brought forward.

  • Fwl

    The previous decisions of the working group make for interesting reading eg opinion 33/2006 on Tariq Aziz.

  • Phil


    I see the minister for Murdoch was on the gogglebox this morning.

    Spin or lie is, in reality, a matter of perspective and to debate the nature of truth is largely moot. We do not need philosophy to recognise that power, influence and an expensive legal team is what counts in law. Nor do we need philosophy to know that The FCO has always existed to provide propaganda for the British establishment. To draw argument about what distinguishes between outright lies and other types of lies in response to these statements is indeed sophistry.

    Hammond nor the civil servants will be damaged. They will be rewarded for doing their job. Same as it ever was. That we have lost a golden age in the functionaries of empire is a delusion. It is Craig and you who have probably changed. Certainly not the FCO.

  • nevermind, Lord Feldmannn? RESIGN!

    thanks for your first post here, Chris Rogers, and welcome. Many posters here agree with your view that the Guardian is beyond rescue or redemption, hence it barely feature’s here now, and if, mostly for its outrageous flippancy, lies, or deliberate distortion of facts.

    @Arbed. Once again thanks for your excellent guidance. I shall also say thanks to an old pal from nearby, Vaughan Smith for speaking up so eloquently for JA during the last few days.

    After reading much of what has been written in the case against Julian, having read a little about Sweden’s peculiar ‘wing it Justice’, it is hard to believe that our justice system is much better, as the foreign secretary seems to agree with the Swedish limbo, the arbitrary ‘go slow’ which has been recognised by the WGAD.

    Craig’s opinion on the judges is spot on, imho, once Assange is in Swedish custody, his fate will be sealed, whether Anna and Sophie give different accounts, or not, they might not even be asked to appear, he’ll be toast and end up in the US.

  • Ben-Outraged by the Cannabigots

    Surprising Sweden has no jury system. WIthout 12 men/women good and true, it’s nothing but a Star Chamber. We don’ ‘nee’ no steenking judges, even for a parking ticket.

  • Chris Rogers


    Thank you for the welcome, however I have posted a few times previously, but to no great extent. Suffice to say I cannot be bothered to re-registered with The Guardian, which I’ve done on more than a dozen occasions, but it saddens me greatly that a once ‘liberal’ newspaper is now nothing but a soapbox for neoliberals and neoconservatives. Indeed, in my youth when i first started reading The Guardian it really was the paper of teachers, lecturers and city hall types and had a circulation of approx. 400,000, but the censorship and blatant lies it now produces daily is an insult to many old readers, hence I’m forced to comment on blogs such as Craig’s.

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