March 22, 2013. Geneva. A new report from the United Nations accuses past and current US officials of withholding details regarding which specific individuals were responsible for the nation’s policy of enhanced interrogation, known throughout the rest of the world as torture. While the illegal acts were approved at the highest level of the US government, the UN insists those responsible still must be tried for war crimes, and if convicted, imprisoned.
Ben Emmerson, UN human rights chief investigator.
UN Commission for Human Rights
In 2005, in response to global accusations of American war crimes, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights passed Resolution 2005/80. It created a special investigator for a period of three years and specifically empowered him to investigate the US-backed War on Terror. The first appointed UN investigator was Martin Scheinin of Finland. Currently, the UK’s Ben Emmerson is the lead investigator. And it’s Mr. Emmerson that has criticized both the Bush and Obama administrations for withholding evidence of war crimes.
The UN committee originally charged the special investigator with carrying out seven individual mandates. Six of the tasks revolve around developing a modern UN policy to work with US and NATO-backed forces to insure human rights are respected in the midst of their international war on terror. But one of the seven UN mandates, the one the US is accused of stymieing, reads (from the UN Human Rights Commission):
‘To gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with all relevant sources, including Governments, the individuals concerned and their families, representatives and organizations, including through country visits, with the consent of the State concerned, on alleged violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.’
UN isn’t playing games with US and UK
After eight years of stonewalling and resistance by US and UK authorities, the UN special investigator addressed the world body’s Human Rights Commission publicly, demanding the two nations cooperate with the investigation.
Ben Emmerson, the lead special investigator, described to the gathered UN dignitaries a setting of self-approved legal immunity among US and UK national leaders. He called the two governments’ standing policy, “A policy of de facto immunity for public officials who engaged in acts of torture, rendition and secret detention, and their superiors and political masters who authorized these acts.”
In his speech before the UN commission, Emmerson described how African and Middle Eastern citizens and their governments are demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice. Many have watched their own national leaders arrested and charged with war crimes for virtually the same acts that US and UK officials are currently accused.
“Words are not enough,” UN investigator Emmerson remarked, speaking indirectly to Western leaders, “Platitudinous repetition of statements affirming opposition to torture ring hollow to many in those parts of the Middle East and North Africa that have undergone, or are undergoing, major upheaval, since they have first-hand experience of living under repressive regimes that used torture in private whilst making similar statements in public.”
Then, speaking specifically of those same Western regimes, Emmerson said, “The skepticism of these communities can only be reinforced if Western governments continue to demonstrate resolute indifference to the crimes committed by their predecessor administrations.”
Global demands for justice reaching “critical mass”
Marches and protests across the globe would seem to support Ben Emmerson and his team’s conclusions. However, Western officials have remained steadfast in their resistance to being held accountable. But the world may not wait much longer Emmerson suggests, “Calls for accountability are fast approaching a critical mass.” And moments prior to his condemning speech to the UN committee, the chief investigator is reported to have spoken candidly to the UK’s Guardian.
As quoted by ReaderSupportedNews.org, Ben Emmerson told the British news outlet, “In South America, it took up to thirty years before the officials responsible for crimes like these were held fully accountable. With the conspiracy organized by the Bush-ear CIA, it has taken a decade. But the campaign for securing the right to truth has now reached a critical point.”
In a separate report of the speech by RT News, the outlet quotes UN investigator Emmerson as explaining that one of the most glaring examples of CIA human rights violations are the agency’s secret ‘black sites’, “There is now credible evidence to show that CIA black sites were located on the territory of Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, and that the officials of at least 49 other states allowed their airspace or airports to be used for rendition flights.”
Emmerson went on to explain, “Despite this clear repudiation of the unlawful actions carried out by the Bush-era CIA, many of the facts remain classified, and no public official has so far been brought to justice in the United States.”
It’s apparent that the United Nations is serious about bringing US and UK public officials to trial for international war crimes related to torture and the West’s war on terror. But without the cooperation of the current governments of the two nations, UN human rights investigators will have a difficult time producing the evidence needed to do so.