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.

229 thoughts on “Kafka 2016

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  • Ba'al Zevul

    John, as one of our practising lawyers remarked on Twitter, the next time I have to wait at home for a TNT parcel which doesn’t arrive, I’ll take the matter to the UN.

  • Clark

    Ba’al, 12:09 am; interesting. I dissent from Tochilovsky dissent:

    Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador; he is therefore entitled to liberty in Ecuador. But Assange can’t enjoy that liberty since, to access any other part of Ecuador he has to pass through the United Kingdom and would be arrested there – he would lose the benefit of the political asylum that he has been granted. Therefore, he is arbitrarily detained by the UK.

  • tony_0pmoc

    Do you know what it is like to be studying at one of The Best Universities in England (WORLD)…

    Sure the first year is great – you have money from your parents – and you are living in Student Accomodation – part of the University..and yo are doing so well and have made friends that for next year ..well we will all rent a Student House….

    A Very Very Old House…

    Does The Landlord Pay The Bills in a Crisis which is His Responsibilty???

    Do the Parents of the Other Kids..even visit..their Children in the Student House???

    Does Her Brother turn up …

    Does her Mum and Dad turn up???

    She says I am already working all hours God sends Dad..and she does…as well as being a Student for her Degree

    But so much Responsibility on a 19 year old Girl..then 20..21…22… 23

    and she just got so incredibly thin ..and really ill – Bell’s Palsy and the Rest

    Well Our Daughter has Back Home Now for over 3 months….and is Gradually getting Better.

    My Wife and I do mostly Fresh Food (in fact she grows a lot of the Vegetables herself).

    Life can be a Traumatic experience for quite some time..it may seem that you are at the bottom of the well..and you simply do not have the strength to climb back up…so you rest..to regain your strength…do your best to try and climb back up ..and there is a Beautiful Angel at The top…She Tied Her Feet To The Rope at The Top of The Well and With All – everything She could do…She is Reaching Her Hand down the Well For You…

    When I got back up to the Surface…I thought Blimey

    I’m O.K.

    Will You Marry Me?

    She Say’s O.K.

    So we did.


  • Clark

    Let’s look at it another way. The law was changed recently so the following is hypothetical, but if that law still stood…

    A UK activist group raised charges of war crimes against certain Israeli politicians regarding an Israeli attack upon Gaza. Had any of those politicians been in the UK when the charges were raised they might have taken refuge in the Israeli Embassy. Holding Israeli citizenship, and no charges in Israeli law having been raised against them they would be entitled to liberty within Israel. But within the Israeli Embassy they would be being deprived of that liberty because stepping outside would get them arrested by the UK. So that too would be arbitrary detention.

  • tony_0pmoc

    Clark You and Me wrote The Law in around 1066

    It was the Ultimate Declaration of Human Rights…

    If You Kings and Queens don’t let us Peasants live without Fucking Us Over…

    Then We Will.. Fucking Kill You


    Let us live Free


  • tony_0pmoc

    Its about Turning The Fear Around and Having a Bit of Courage…

    Just Stand Up

    One Man

    One Woman

    To These EVIL Bastards

    and they will melt away..

    No money in the world will sustain this Evil

    We are here…so do something..

    what ..well I don’t know..

    have you got any ideas???

    I am all ears.


  • Dr Leslie Dean Brown (@VayaQuorum)

    I have been following this since whole saga since the Manning trial.

    Honestly, our governments are not accountable for the war crimes they appear to have committed. They manipulate, they control, they persecute. We all knew politicians were liars to begin with.

    Let’s face it, this whole smear-campaign against Assange is just that: a very ugly smear campaign. DOes ANYONE believe that he is a sex offender? I mean really. Here is a man trying to make governments more transparent and accountable. As if he is going to jeopardise that by doing so plain dumb. So I don’t believe it. Not for a split second.

    Sure, let him be trialled in Sweden. But we all know that he probably won’t get a fair trial because either the jury would be rigged or else he’d be extradited to the US (and that wouldn’t go down too well either).

    THESE GOVERNMENTS ARE FUCKED. They need to realise that and start back-pedalling and I mean really fast. They need to start telling the truth.

    Because otherwise this is going to keep snowballing… more and more people are waking up to this every single day.

  • tony_0pmoc

    When they threaten Violence To You…and They Did…(even though you know they are going to Smash You to a Pulp)..

    Stand Up To Them…and Fight as Hard as You Can

    and when you are on the school playground when you are 5 years old..get back up on your feet – and try to beat them to shitt

    sure they knock you to the ground again and the teachers don’t notice but all the girls do

    and you get back up again

    The Bullies Never Take You On Again


  • BrianFujisan

    Tony… Good as you say For Children… Fighting one minit…Best friends next…..As the Native americans would say..” we can learn much from Children

    Not so easy for Adults…

  • tony_0pmoc

    Its really hard and painful for the first few days and then your nipples harden up – and its the easiest thing in the world.

    1. You do not need a microwave oven.

    2. You do not need any bottles…

    You just take Your Baby Everywhere with You…

    You are Now a Mum

    Its The Most Natural Thing In The World…

    Look at Him…Breastfed till he was 15 months old..

    Is there Anything Wrong With Dad?

    You made a Baby with him.

    My Wife is Not Going To Breastfeed Your Baby…nor even Babysit for him…unless you Two take Full Responsibility for him.

    (They are of course trying to do their Nesting Thing according to the books and what they see on TV)

    I am going to be Grandad soon and I can’t Breastfeed the kid unless she expresses her milk from her Breast before she goes to work…

    Well That is what we Did…

    Breast Milk is The Real Thing

    Its just so important for both Mum and Baby.


  • tony_0pmoc

    We are going to have a Baby in our Home AGAIN…

    And I am a Very Happy Man

    My Wife and I just Love Babies…

    Baby is due in about 3 weeks but could happen any time

    The thing to do is pant as if you are having a good crap.

    If you are cool about it – they come out nearly as easily as they go in.

    and its even more Wonderful.


  • fwl

    1) law academics are not necessarily lawyers;

    2) what does it matter if a panel is comprised of lawyers or not. Judicial decisions on the law are best made by judges. Factual decisions are best made by juries ie lay people;

    3) what is the status of the UN panel? Is it anything more than a lay or an extra-judicial panel?

  • giyane


    “I have never had the fortune of not knowing the UK as fascist, so this is business as usual for me, but with an attempt to disguise the stench by throwing yet more excrement in your face.”

    If Craig had the slightest affection for Tories, based on the fact that he was persecuted by the other party, or he formerly had some friends of the Jolyon Forsyte ilk (deceased in the 1890s) among the Tory ranks, or he never saw the Savile side of Mrs Thatcher’s feminism/ sadism, the time to abandon that affection is now.

    Phillip Hammond has the same rictus politic grin as Rifkind, another Tory friend to jettison while you’re there. the Tory mind is predicated on acquisition of wealth and power, while holding a fig-leaf of socialism to lubricate the engine of acquisitiveness.

    What Hammond means when he states that the UN lawyers are not lawyers is that they are not Tories, jackal-scavengers for money and power. They represent the interests of those the Tories, including red Tories, who are to be scavanged from.

    As a person who decided as a child that all the professions were professional liars, I think this is a rare display of truth by Hammond. Faced with a possy armed with rifles and torches he has been photoed by flash-light with his jackal grin and jackal tribe.

  • Chris Rogers

    As a regular reader, although not a ‘poster’, its quite clear in my humble opinion that at least one of the most prolific posters here does his posting as a full-time job, so in essence they are a paid troll. As with others, one won’t mention names, but most are aware who this troll is. Now, do we feed the troll or ignore him?

    I may also start contributing more to the dialogue given I’m back in ‘pre-moderation’ on The Guardian having had the temerity to engage with more lies espoused in the pages of that once decent newspaper, this time over it’s appalling coverage of Syria. Its funny that mostly I get banned/modded for sticking up for the truth and pointing out obvious deceit, if not outright lies. Last weeks Guardian coverage was a disgrace on so many levels that its really time they just close it down given we have enough propaganda as it is.

    Oh, and I post under my real name as have no fear of those who deny the truth or corrupt the truth.

  • Doug Scorgie


    7 Feb, 2016 – 6:42 am

    “1) law academics are not necessarily lawyers;

    “2) what does it matter if a panel is comprised of lawyers or not. Judicial decisions on the law are best made by judges. Factual decisions are best made by juries ie lay people;

    “3) what is the status of the UN panel? Is it anything more than a lay or an extra-judicial panel?”


    1 They may not be “practicing lawyers” but are nonetheless experts at law and have the qualifications to prove it.

    2. Judges are lawyers with a wig. Juries are randomly selected members of the public with no legal training which is quite different to the UN panel.

    3 It is a panel of legal experts.

  • Macky

    The BBC site states this;

    “Who is on the panel?

    The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – to give it its full title – is made up of five legal experts from around the world. Established in 1991, it has made hundreds of rulings on whether imprisonment or detention is lawful, which have helped to influence governments to release people.

    High profile complainants include Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who was released in Iran last month, former pro-democracy President Mohamed Nasheed, released in the Maldives last year, and Myanmar party leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Previous rulings by the panel have gone against countries with some of the world’s worst human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Egypt. The decision against Sweden and Britain in favour of Mr Assange is likely to be controversial.”


    Seems reasonable ? However note that final sentence, the use of the word “controversial” is a deliberate ploy to belittle the verdict, and of course no mention as to exactly as to whom this verdict appears “controversial” to.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “The odious troll has repeated on this very thread his call for Craig to terminate this forum. He obviously has no desire to make any real contributions to the discussion here.”

    Not really a call, just a suggestion, or an option, if you will.

    As for “real contributions”, one could of course ask oneself whether questions and refutations (to which those refuted or questioned could provide an answer if they were willing/able to do so…) are more “real” or less “real” than periodic reports on the breadth of one particular contributor’s reading, occasional dribbles of personal information (designed to show I know not what) and his frequent re-hawking of various conspiracy theories.

  • fwl

    Doug, I haven’t looked at this working group in detail and I have not formed a view as to the Foreign Secretary’s comments save to assume that his intent was ti undermine the credibility if the decision and its significance. If I have time I will look at the composition of the group, their academic and professional qualifications and standing, their mandate and its significance.

    But, in the meanwhile and very generally”

    1) legal academics including professors are often not lawyers and without any professional qualification or experience ({I don’t know about here);

    2) My point here was not necessarily supportive of the Foreign Secretary, ie do we in Britain not believe that the best judges if fact are lay people ie juries who are not case hardened, and do we also not make use of lay magistrates and empower them to send people to prison. Therefore, I suspect the Foreign Secretary was shooting from the hip and may not have best thought out how to undermine the decision;

    3)Thanks, that is a funny concept. A panel if legal experts, who would want to stand trial before a panel of legal experts.

    I will look into this further….for my part I still don’t know, who benefitted and who gained from WikiLeaks. We sure learnt a lot, but at the end of the day didn’t it open the door for states to manufacture fake disclosures. I’m not saying that wasn’t always the case…….

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Meaning that what the person whom I have just been asked not to call an odious troll (without naming him, mind) calls me with impunity does not amount to taunting?”

    Assuming the author of the above is referring to me, I fail to see how expression such as “our Transatlantic Friend” or “the Oxford Greatsman”* could be considered as taunts – all the more so as they are based on information freely (and liberally) offered by the contributor in question.

    Nor more so than than referring on occasion to said contributor’s commendably wide range of experience (service in the US military garrison in Berlin, studies at both Oxford and now Yale universities, service as a US Navy officer both in the US and various stations abroad, several “higher degrees”, work as a lawyer in Washington, etc…) can and should be interpreted as taunting.


    * Greats – the four year Oxford course in classical Greek and Latin studies.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “If I don’t name whom I am calling an odious troll”


    Well, you make it fairly clear whom you’re referring to,, wouldn’t you say?


    “… doesn’t that leave it up to the reader to decide who he thinks fits that description?~”

    Exactly right. The intelligent reader should be free to male his own mind up. Guidance from you is neither necessary nor illuminating.

  • Dec

    Removing abusive exchanges here would be like removing punches from boxing. This is a place for people to talk, not to listen, still less to change their minds in response to argument. Of course, many wish to pretend otherwise, but none could point to a single person whose fundamental ideological position has been changed by anything said here.

    As violence goes, this is trivial anyway, abusing an nameless faceless placeless digital handle is like kicking the memory of a shadow. You have to want it for it to hurt you.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    “The whole idea is to stop and stifle any debate about the shitty strip of land (as per French prime minster).”

    1/. Garbage.

    2/. It was the French Perm Rep to the UN, not the French PM.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Dr Leslie Dean Brown

    “Sure, let him be trialled in Sweden. But we all know that he probably won’t get a fair trial because either the jury would be rigged”

    But that’s exactly what we don’t know, isn’t it? It is speculation (or opinion, to put is more kindly).


    “…or else he’d be extradited to the US”

    This has nothing to do with whether he gets a fair trial or not – it is a distinct point.

    But, again, it is speculation (or opinion).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Too stay chez Assange for the moment: Macky says

    “Previous rulings by the panel have gone against countries with some of the world’s worst human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Egypt. The decision against Sweden and Britain in favour of Mr Assange is likely to be controversial.”


    Seems reasonable ? However note that final sentence, the use of the word “controversial” is a deliberate ploy to belittle the verdict, and of course no mention as to exactly as to whom this verdict appears “controversial” to.”

    I wonder if the above reaction is not a little over the top. “Controversial” appears to be exactly the right word given the reaction of the UK govt and the amount of comment the finding has aroused in both the MSM and the cyberworld (including on here).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    And still on Mr Assange:

    I recall hearing one of the members of the UN Panel being interviewed on the BBC a couple of days ago: if memory serves, he said that the Panel was not allowed by its rules to reveal WHO had made the complaint of arbitrary detention in the first case.

    Did I mishear? If I didn’t, it would be interesting to know who it was.

    The obvious answer is “Mr Assange himself” but it does seem strange that this cannot be confirmed.

    I should have thought the public should have the right to know.

  • Iain Orr

    I think Phil is wrong to be so dismissive of Craig’s distinction between propaganda and outright lies. There are many circumstances where political and personal morality and what is “liertally” true or not and what is “legal” or not matters a great deal. Two examples are tax avoidance (often strictly “within the rules) and consensual sex (which is rape if one of the partners is one day under the leagal age of consent).

    A great deal of political debate should, rightly, draw strength from exposing the reliance of official spokesmen on being “economical with the actualité”. When outright lies are accepted as being no different from putting a spin or being selective in one’s use of statistics, the basis for political debate is completely undermined, just as is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” if one accepts outright lies under oath.

    Admittedly, there are far fewer prosecutions for perjury than there should be, but I hope Phil, that you do not want to add to the armoury available to an oppressive government by removing perjury from the list of criminal offences.

  • craig Post author


    Actually we know that the jury will not be fixed because there is no jury in a Swedish rape trial. And the evidence and cross-examination is held entirely in secret. I firmly believe myself that the judges will be fixed.

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