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Justice within the rule of law is being heavily trampled upon both here in the UK and under the lawless authoritarian jackboot of the US stomping down on the collective necks of innocent citizens across the globe in just as lethal a manor as was used to extinguish the life of George Floyd. Britain’s incarceration and torture of political prisoner, outspoken Wikileaks Journalist Whistleblower Julian Assange is at the behest of the American Government determined to force through their illegal extradition hearing at all costs. The show trial is proceeding as expected with every move by defence Lawyers blocked, justice and human rights denied while public access limits the escape of real information. Craig made it into Court to report on the worst abuses, unprecedented restrictions and the Judge’s decisions formulate without hearing the arguments presented; she knows what is required of her: deliver the lamb to the slaughter. The global bully who decides all has passed judgement; subvert the law, whatever it takes: he will prevail.
Under Trump the US have ramped up their dictating to the world slapping sanctions on independent minded national leaders who would not bow to his demands and support the interests of US Corporations and subjecting the poorest citizens of those countries to untold hardship. With Iran it was the nuclear deal an Obama legacy had to be destroyed; Venezuela it was oil reserves he wants to control so he nominated a new Leader and organized coup attempts. He considers the whole of South America his territory to dominate and plunder resources; the ABC of Lithium wealth spells subjugation for Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Never missing an opportunity, the Navalny incident might be Trump’s chance to sabotage the Nordstrom pipeline. What would that achieve? It will keep Germany beholden to Poland for gas supplies routed through their territory with Poland’s hard right Government willing to bribe and be bribed by the US. Increase manufacturing costs and limit power within the EU, plus he can sell American LPG.
Boris Johnson is deluded if he thinks he can stand up to Trump once the UK is severed from the EU after crash-out Brexit. Right now, as China becomes more powerful with economic success, the Trump wrecking ball has found a new target. He unleashed faux outrage over human rights, then the ‘Chinese’ virus, Huawei: Trump does not like China’s leading position in tech so he will try to sabotage all their business ventures, not just in the US, but globally through sanction bullying. Trump is desperate to maintain the dominance of the US dollar as the premier world currency, but steeped in debt the greenback might be on the wane according to the Keiser Report. Trump has few friends left, but his buddy Bibi Netanyahu is grateful for support and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump favours corrupt, cruel despots like the sadistic Saudis who trimmed down the justice demanded for chopping Journalist Khashoggi into manageable chunks! Assange is in grave danger as Trump’s distain for Journalists is readily apparent.
But Trump is now attacking established global organizations like the WHO and now the ICC. In the Guardian Article entitled, “US imposes sanctions on top international criminal court officials,” they report that, “The US has imposed sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court, Fatou Bensouda, in the latest of a series of unilateral and radical foreign policy moves. Announcing the sanctions, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, did not give any specific reasons for the move other than to say the ICC ‘continues to target Americans’ and that Bensouda was ‘materially assisting’ that alleged effort. He also announced sanctions against Phakiso Mochochoko, the ICC’s director of jurisdiction, complementary and cooperation division. The US Treasury issued a statement saying Bensouda and Mochochoko had been deemed ‘specially designated nationals’, grouping them alongside terrorists and narcotics traffickers, blocking their assets and prohibited US citizens from having any dealings with them.”
Wikileaks contribution to the evidence exposed about US war crimes has angered Trump; silencing Assange in an inhumane way will send a message to Journalists globally. The Guardian report that, “In June, Donald Trump issued an executive order imposing sanctions on ICC officials involved in investigating Americans, in response to the court’s decision to open an inquiry into war crimes committed by all sides in Afghanistan. The US also opposes ICC scrutiny of potential Israeli crimes against Palestinians as part of an investigation that also looks at abuses carried out by Palestinian security forces. The US was roundly condemned for its anti-ICC campaign, which was not supported by any other western democracy or US ally apart from Israel. In a statement in response to the sanctions on Wednesday, the ICC said: ‘These coercive acts, directed at an international judicial institution and its civil servants, are unprecedented and constitute serious attacks against the Court…and the rule of law more generally’.”
According to the Guardian, “Richard Dicker, the international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said the announcement ‘marks a stunning perversion of US sanctions, devised to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrats, to persecute those tasked with prosecuting international crimes’. ‘The Trump administration has twisted these sanctions to obstruct justice, not only for certain war crimes victims, but for atrocity victims anywhere looking to the international criminal court for justice,’ Dicker said. The decision to escalate its campaign against the ICC is one of a series of radical steps the Trump administration has taken on foreign policy that have left it isolated on the world stage. On Monday, it was alone in voting against a counter-terrorism resolution in the UN security council. On other recent council votes involving US efforts to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, Washington has only managed to secure the support of the Dominican Republic.”
In another warped decision, the Guardian say that, “On Wednesday, Pompeo also confirmed that the US would not be taking part in an international effort to find a vaccine for Covid-19, because the World Health Organization was involved. The administration has sought to blame the WHO for the pandemic, against which the US has fared worse than any other major industrialised economy. ‘This administration wants multilateral institutions to function, to actually work, but multilateralism just for the sake of it, just to get together in a room and chat doesn’t add value,’ Pompeo said on Wednesday. ‘This should be a five-alarm fire for the UN,’ Mark Leon Goldberg, the editor of the UN Dispatch newsletter, said on Twitter. ‘It’s one small step from imposing sanctions against top WHO officials as part of Trump’s campaign to shift blame for his handling of Covid-19′.” Boris Johnson is emulating Trump: disbanding DfID was warped, but binning Public Health England in the midst of a Pandemic to avoid blame is insane.
In an Electronic Intifada Article entitled, “Trump goes nuclear against ICC,” they too report on how, “The Trump administration in Washington has placed economic sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and another senior official at the Hague. The move was announced on Wednesday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said the US would ‘not tolerate [the court’s] illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.’ Pompeo’s announcement came shortly after returning from a trip to Israel, during which he boarded the first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Sudan. The US and Israel face investigations by the court for suspected war crimes in Afghanistan and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively. The ICC’s probes, still in a preliminary stage, represent a challenge to the impunity of both states.”
According to EI this also represents a real “test of the credibility of the tribunal, which has so far only tried African nationals. The US and Israel reject the application of court jurisdiction that could see the indictment of their nationals and have teamed up to thwart the ICC’s scrutiny. The sanctions announced by Pompeo are by far the most severe measures taken thus far. The US Treasury now lists prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, director of the court’s prosecution jurisdiction division, among its “specially designated nationals.” By doing so, the Trump administration has put the court officials in the company of ‘terrorists and narcotics traffickers’ or individuals and groups working on behalf of countries sanctioned by the US.” However, under the Donald the US is becoming a lot more authoritarian and arbitrary about where they seek to impose sanctions and for the flimsiest of reasons, while expecting all other countries to unquestioningly follow the example of global tyrant Trump.
EI document the shocked reaction to the latest US “Attack on the rule of law.” They say that, “The ICC condemned the ‘coercive acts’ targeting its personnel as an attack on the court and ‘the rule of law more generally.’ Human Rights Watch accused the Trump administration of attempting to ‘block justice for the world’s worst crimes.’ The sanctions will ‘seriously affect’ Bensouda and Mochochoko, the New York-based group stated. They will lose access to assets in the US and be ‘cut off from commercial and financial dealings with ‘US persons,’ including banks and other companies.’ Human Rights Watch added that the sanctions will ‘also have a chilling effect’ on banks and companies outside the US ‘who fear losing access themselves to the US banking system if they do not help the US to effectively export the sanctions measures’.” Although there are expectations that Trump will lose the Presidential race and no longer be in a position to continue his damaging and disruptive coercion, we could face four more years!
EI say, “Amnesty International said that the move ‘penalizes not only the ICC, but civil society actors working for justice alongside the court worldwide.’ The sanctions on Bensouda and Mochochoko are extreme and unprecedented but not surprising. In June, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that threatened to impose such measures against parties that cooperated with the court’s probes into the situation in Afghanistan. The sweeping order declares that ‘any attempt by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute’ would constitute an ‘extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the US.’ The order includes in its declaration of ‘a national emergency’ any investigation of ‘personnel of countries that are US allies and who are not parties to the [ICC’s] Rome Statute,’ an oblique reference to Israel. Amnesty International USA warned that the vague and broad language used in Trump’s executive order means that anyone cooperating with the court may find themselves ‘implicated’.”
EI report, “Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy were among only a handful of members of Congress who spoke out against the sanctions against court officials: Silence among the Trump administration’s usual critics in Congress is also not surprising. In May, a bipartisan grouping of members of Congress in both houses encouraged Pompeo in his efforts to thwart justice at the court by signing letters authored by the Israel lobby group AIPAC. The European Union, whose cooperation or lack thereof will determine the success of the Trump administration’s sanctions, said it was ‘unwavering in its support’ of the ICC. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who welcomed the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates last month, was more guarded. A spokesperson for Guterres’ office said they would ‘continue to closely follow developments on this matter’.”
EI reported that, “Others who closely observe developments concerning the court noted that the sanctions target the two African nationals among the five top figures in the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor. The three non-Africans with top-level posts in that office were not designated by the US order. Writing for the Just Security website, Haley S. Anderson states that the ‘relatively unknown Mochochoko’ may have been designated because he has ‘allegedly supported the inquiry into potential US wrongdoing in Afghanistan.’ She adds that Mochochoko’s remit of jurisdiction, which the court exercises in Afghanistan, and which a panel of judges is currently considering in the case of Palestine, is the US’s ‘core objection to the Afghanistan investigation’.” As the Black Lives Matter protester continue to take to the streets this is one more outrage that selectively targeted African’s on the ICC a body that seriously need to demonstrate that America, Israel, and yes the UK too, are not beyond the law.
According to EI, “The legal scholar Kevin Jon Heller told Al Jazeera that the US is hardly the first to object to its treatment by the ICC. ‘The only real difference is that the US has the power to do this kind of overt action against the court in a way that most African states that feel unfairly targeted don’t,’ he said. He stated that there are diplomatic and court mechanisms that the US could pursue if it ‘took these allegations of torture by the CIA [in Afghanistan] seriously’. In the case of both Israel and the US, credible investigations and prosecutions of alleged abuses by its forces would prevent any formal investigation at the ICC. As a court of last resort, the ICC only exercises jurisdiction ‘where national legal systems fail to do so.’ Trump’s predecessor, Barrack Obama, declined to prosecute the authors and executors of the Bush administration’s torture regimes in Afghanistan and beyond.”
EI report that, “The US has chosen instead to ‘use the dominance of US financial markets,’ as Anderson puts it, to undermine the court and consolidate its impunity – and that of Israel.” Obama might have wanted to keep Pandora’s box tightly closed while he was in office, but it is precisely this pandering to the military industrial complex condoning past atrocities that make future violations a lot more likely. Idi Armene, Pinochet and other ruthless tyrants have died quietly in exile, while in the UK Tony Blair is treated like a celebrity; if there is never accountability for atrocities and war crimes the violence will continue unabated. It is not about seeking vengeance it’s the requirement for even-handed justice, sending a harsh message that no one is above the law and restoring the trust of ordinary citizens who in a growing number of countries are treated as worthless. So many of the US police officers caught on camera dispensing lethal arbitrary justice are never charged that police forces believe they can kill with impunity.
The Israeli Government will continue to persecute the Palestinians if they know they will never be held accountable for their crimes. Increasingly in the UK one is not even permitted to mention the crimes of the Israeli Government because such blasphemy has now been effectively coapted into an obscure form of anti-Semitism. We are not permitted to express solidarity with the Palestinian population who are also ethnically Semitic. Those who dare to show sympathy for the historic inhabitants of West Bank whose land is being seized or concern for Palestinians trapped within the open prison of Gaza as they battle deprivation and bombing are just ladled anti-Semitic. The disgusting fantisemitism witch hunt has trapped, demonized and excluded some of our finest civil rights activists, destroying political aspirations and the progressive agenda for our country to hide the shame of crimes perpetrated by a foreign power. SLAPP lawsuits moneyterized this deceitful operation to gag the finest of our Leaders and wreck our democracy.
When the Tories froth in faux outrage over a minor one day disruption by Extinction Rebellion targeting their vile propaganda hate spewing rags, I can only cheer at the momentary success XR managed to score. This Tory Government would have freedom of speech selectively applied; freedom of the press for the RIGHT press and the Far-RIGHT Press, but not for alternative progressive voices. The BBC functioning unashamedly as a Tory mouthpiece, ignoring the need for balanced presentation, even right through Purdah and beyond with their lopsided far-Right agenda, but do not expect ofcom to reign them in no matter how excessive their abuse gets; the Tories appear to control Ofcom too. No instead there are calls to shut down RT by removing the broadcasting licence of Russia Today in case they venture to supply an alternative perspective on the news.
A Canary Article sounded the alarm, “Astounding,” they exclaimed over the, “admission as minister confirms proposed change to Brexit deal would breach international law. A government plan to override elements of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with Brussels would breach international law, a senior minister has confirmed,” announcing it to the shocked the few MPs assembled in the Covid depleted House of Commons Chamber. “The comment by Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis provoked a furious reaction, including from some Tory MPs, and followed news that the head of the Government Legal Department had resigned amid reports he was ‘very unhappy’ with the proposal. Lewis told MPs legislation to ensure Northern Ireland could continue to enjoy unfettered access to markets in the rest of the UK would breach international law in a ‘very specific and limited way’.”
The Canary report that, “In the Commons, former prime minister, Theresa May warned the government was in danger of losing the trust of other countries that it would honour its international agreements. May said ministers were now seeking to change the operation of an agreement which the government had signed up to and parliament had passed into UK law and asked: ‘Given that, how can the Government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?!” This is relevant to another piece of fantasy brinkmanship: the UK will end negotiations and write off unpaid EU debt: prospective new trade partners would be truly spooked by that. “May said ministers were now seeking to change the operation of an agreement which the government had signed up to and parliament had passed into UK law and asked: ‘Given that, how can the Government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”
The Canary report on the shocked responses, “Labour described the admission as ‘absolutely astonishing” Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy Tweeted, “Astounded to hear the Northern Ireland Secretary calmly confirm the UK Government’s plans do break international law. The rule of law keeps us safe, defends our national interest, and allows us to hold others to account. They are diminishing us on the world stage.” Meanwhile they say, “Downing Street has sought to play down the changes in the Internal Market Bill – to be tabled on Wednesday – insisting they were simply ‘limited clarifications’ to protect the peace process if they failed to secure a free trade deal with the EU.”
The Canary say, “pressed in the Commons by the senior Tory MP Bob Neill as to whether they were consistent with the UK’s international legal obligations, Lewis said: ‘Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way’. He said that the powers the government were taking would enable ministers to ‘dis-apply’ the EU legal concept of ‘direct effect’ – which requires the enforcement of EU law – in ‘certain, very tightly defined circumstances’. He added: ‘There are clear precedents for the UK and indeed other countries needing to consider their international obligations as circumstances change.’ However, Neill, who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, said adherence to rule of law was ‘not negotiable’. Tweeting, ‘Any breach, or potential breach, of the international legal obligations we have entered into is unacceptable, regardless of whether it’s in a ‘specific’ or ‘limited way’.” This is just like Johnson’s Proroguing Parliament fiasco – he tried to get away with it, he failed; no apology, no shame… move on.
There is no honourable admission of guilt, never an apology, no one steps down; defying the law is almost a Tory right of passage: we still have Cummings in post. But this corrupt Tory cabal want even less scrutiny and less accountability as they ram through their unjust laws. The Judiciary are under fire, as the Tories are determined to reduce their power and effectiveness in holding this dysfunctional Tory Government to account. This is not a good time to be going to Court while these lawless bandits are in power; there is little hope of Justice for Julian at this time. Craig is making a herculean effort to get into Court and at least try to keep us posted. He wrote, “I went to the Old Bailey today expecting to be awed by the majesty of the law, and left revolted by the sordid administration of injustice.” We must Continue to Support Julian’s fight to block extradition; Whistleblower protections and freedom of the press depend on the outcome of this case. We must also support Craig’s efforts to help Julian and to fund his own defence.
Please: DO NOT MOVE ON!