Tag Archives: Extraordinary Rendition

Extraordinary Rendition……

14 Dec

‘Rendition is more commonly known as extradition and concerns the repatriation/deportation of someone accused of a crime within an internationally agreed legal framework. Extraordinary Rendition is different……’

 

To make it perfectly clear; Extraordinary Rendition is illegal, not subject to judicial process and in violation of Article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The United States used Extraordinary Rendition as far back as the 1960s but it is in the past 13 years that the extraordinary has become the ordinary. 1,245 flights have been used for Extraordinary Rendition since 9/11……

 

The scale of British involvement is not yet clear as all details contained in the first 480 pages of a 6,000 page report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee have been redacted (at the request of the UK Government). However, flights have landed on UK soil and given passage through UK airspace which makes our Government complicit in Extraordinary Rendition. Plausible deniability cannot be used as a defence because all air traffic is monitored by either civilian or military resources. An aircraft cannot land or be given passage without its call sign and registration number being logged, or to put it another way, a ‘black’ unmarked aircraft cannot slip in and out of an airport unrecorded; civilian or military. This makes the UK and other EU countries duplicitous in an illegal activity. The UKs Prime Ministers are the Commanders in Chief of our armed forces (including MI5 and MI6) making them ultimately responsible. They are briefed almost daily by the Security Services……

Flightplan

The head of the Intelligence and Security Committee of the House of Commons is requesting the classified information redacted from the 480 page summary. The full report will not be available until January 2015 (presumably when the bulk order of thick black marker pens has arrived)……

 

In 2005 Condoleezza Rice said, “The United States has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country when we believe he will be tortured. Where appropriate, the United States seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured”.  That statement was not true……

 

Extraordinary Rendition and torture are illegal and the perpetrators should be indicted by the International Criminal Court, period……

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Britain’s Guantanamo Bay……

29 May

‘Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Defence, has today been forced to admit that up to 90 foreign nationals are being held illegally at a secret military detention centre……’

The Secretary of State insisted that the detention centre at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, is not secret and was discussed in the House of Commons last year.  Although it may not be an ‘eyes only’ secret, this is the first time the majority of the public will have heard about it.

Philip Hammond & Some Bombs

Philip Hammond & Some Bombs

The detainees, some of whom have been held for 14 months, have been denied access to legal representation and have not been charged with any offences but Philip Hammond said “Many of those held posed a danger to troops”.  He claimed the reason they had not been handed over to the Afghan authorities was because of concerns that they would be mistreated.

UK lawyers acting for eight of the men have launched habeas corpus applications in the High Court in a bid to have them released, raising comparisons with the outrage over the GuantanamoBay prison camp.  The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) rules dictate that British Forces are only allowed to hold suspects for 96 hours.

Gitmo_SignpostPhil Shiner, the lawyer for eight of the men, said the Government had failed to train Afghan Security Forces how to treat people lawfully and humanely, leading to the secret detention facility to protect their human rights, ironic though this seem.  Shiner again reaffirmed that the prisoners has not been told what they were accused of and denied access to legal representation, except for two men who had been allowed a one hour phone call each with a lawyer on Wednesday.  Hammond again said that many of the detainees were suspected killers of British troops or known to be involved in the preparation, facilitating or laying of improvised explosive devices and it would be wrong to put them “back on the battlefield”.

“We would like nothing more than to hand these people over to the Afghan authorities so they can be dealt with by the Afghan judicial system,” he told the Radio 4 Today programme, dismissing the description of Camp Bastion as a secret facility as “absurd”, but then he’s not the one being illegally detained there.

Yet again we see the erosion of basic human rights by our Government, indefinite detention without trial and access to legal advice and the ‘rebirth’ of the Data Communications Bill allowing access to your private email, text messages and internet searches.

And while the Data Communications Bill is on the agenda; my understanding is that one of the intentions is to stop people ‘preaching’ hatred and inciting attacks on one group by another.  Does this extend to the vile rhetoric of politicians misleading statements about immigrants or the divisive ‘them and us’ approach to the ‘shirkers and strivers’, those who want to ‘work hard and get on’, as opposed to those, who by implication, don’t want to work hard and get on?

As for the 90 detainees at Camp Bastion, when the coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan they should be released, as is standard practice for prisoners of war unless they are responsible for crimes against humanity.  An Afghan national who attacks the invading forces with whom they profoundly disagree should be treated as any other prisoner of war at the end of a conflict and released.  After all, the invasion was carried out under the pretext of dismantling ‘Al Qaeda’ training camps which were abandoned long before American boots hit the ground.  In the interim the coalition forces, under the control of the new world order, have sought to impose their ideological ‘democratic’ model on a country which as never operated such a system and probably never will.  Instead, imposing a government comprising ex-warlords and some very shady characters that will fall apart the minute foreign forces withdraw.

Will we also be bringing American and UK forces to the International Criminal Court for the extra-judicial execution of Wanted01innocent civilians and their families by drone aircraft in another sovereign country’s airspace and one which is not involved in the Afghan dispute?  I doubt it……

 

Blue backgrounds

Abu Qatada Sticks Two Prongs up at the Establishment……

24 Apr

‘Home Secretaries come and go, ex Prime Ministers die and Elton John’s hair is still just wrong, but in these uncertain times you can rely on Abu Qatada to bring some nostalgic certainty into our austere lives……’

 

Theresa_May_Home_SecretaryFeckless Home Secretary Theresa May, 56, has announced that a new treaty signed by the British and Jordanians will ‘finally make possible’ the deportation of Abu Qatada.  However, she warned that once the treaty is fully ratified it does not mean that Abu Qatada will be ‘on a plane to Jordan within days’.  Clearly, these considerations were not taken into account when the British Government were complicit in the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of UK citizens to Guantanamo Bay and straight into the hands of a country that does torture terrorist suspects; America.

Presumably the latest treaty is part of the tireless work successive Home Secretaries have undertaken to protect the human rights of the Jordanian people.  We can be assured that the Jordanian Government will honour the treaty based on their current record.  Areas of concern expressed by Human Rights Organisations include:

  • limitations on the right of citizens to change their government peacefully
  • cases of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest, denial of due process and prolonged detention without trial
  • limited freedom of speech and state interference of the ‘free’ press
  • restricted freedom of assembly and the right to demonstrate
  • legal discrimination and harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities
  • restricted labour rights and abuse of immigrant workers
  • loss of Jordanian nationality and discrimination against Palestinians

So, no reason for Theresa May to question the reliability of the new treaty, or believe that the Jordanian authorities are likely to ignore it……

Even without the treaty other options are available.  One proposal is the ‘temporary’ withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.  Mrs May even suggested that we withdraw completely; clearly an advancement of justice for all of humanity and one familiar to her husband.  Details of when, and for how long, any temporary withdrawal from the ECHR will last are unclear but when Mrs May provides this information perhaps it will offer up an opportunity for the BNP, EDL and other right wing groups to ‘clear up’ some of their ‘problems’ at the same time……

Dangerous Cleric

Another Dangerous Cleric

If all else fails, maybe we should take a leaf out of the American’s rule book and use our newly aquired drones to summarily execute Mr Qatada when he pops out to Waitrose; taking care not to kill too many ‘innocent’ civilians with the exception of his wife and children of course.  Obviously, Abu Qatada will shop at Waitrose being one of the many beneficiaries of our generous welfare system that is solely responsible for the appalling state of the economy, stagnant growth and complete failure to reduce the budget deficit.  However, if we do ‘deal’ with the Abu Qatada problem I’m certain the economic benefits will be immediately apparent, even to Gideon……

Why does the Government so desperately want to deport Abu Qatada?  After all, surely he is less dangerous living in the UK where we can continue to breach many of his fundamental human rights and deny him access to his army of loyal followers.  If by some miracle intervention of the prophet the Jordanian court found him not guilty he would be free to start plotting the overthrow of the British Government.  With enough votes and the help of the Lib Dems he could seize power and lock up Theresa May for years without charge and effectively suspend Habeas Corpus, take control of the drones and indiscriminately order the extra-judicial execution of ‘suspected’ terrorists and even invade sovereign states on the untrue premise that they possess WMD’s.  Doubtless he would do this in the name of our security whilst secretly lining the pockets of his newly found filthy rich ‘friends’ who would surround him like flies jockeying for position on a freshly laid dog turd……

AND THEN WHAT SORT OF A ‘DEMOCRACY’ WOULD WE BE LIVING IN…..?

The Exploitation of Conflict for Political Capital…….

17 Mar

‘There are almost no depths to which our politicians will plummet to make political capital from the suffering their illegal conflicts have caused……’

First Things First……

The UK’s Armed Forces are an incredibly brave and honourable group of professional fighters who never fail to step up to whatever challenge they face.  I have nothing but praise for what they selflessly do in the name of the protection of us all.

I do, however, question the motivation of the politicians that place them in unnecessary danger in the name of our nation’s security……

Direct Threats to the UK……

We are surrounded by friendly nations on all sides.  None of our neighbours have any desire to invade or attack the UK.  Any distant nation, none of which has made any plausible threat to the UK has the capability of attacking us.  The few nations who have nuclear weapons know that to launch an attack of this nature would be futile as they would face the wrath of our allies.  Therefore, to support the military industrial complex and the financial benefits it brings a threat was needed.  Whatever you believe about the attacks in America on 9/11 they were not the work of a disparate group of Islamic extremist.  They were simply the patsy for a much larger agenda……

 

Recent Conflicts……

Since 9/11 our troops have been sent into the theatre of war in Iraq and Afghanistan under what could best be described as dubious circumstances and most probably a pack of lies……

Iraq……

There is little doubt that the reasons we were given for the invasion of Iraq was not ‘bad intelligence’, it was based on misinformation and outright lies.  The ’45 minute threat’ never existed, a fact which they were aware of.  And, the existence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was also a lie, backed up by all credible intelligence sources.  Whether you choose to believe the political rhetoric or not, Iraq posed no threat to the UK and the invasion cost the lives of 179 British troops and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Tony Blair and his cabinet are responsible for nothing less than a war crime……

Afghanistan……

The invasion of Afghanistan was the result of our ‘special relationship’ with the US Government.  The apparent hide out of Osama Bin Laden who the US had at the top of their ‘most wanted’ list and was allegedly hiding out in the mountains, despite the failure of US authorities to prove any link of Osama Bin Laden to 9/11 and for which, to this day, he has not been indicted was the catalyst for the invasion.  The Al Qaeda training camps which we were told were a major threat to the west vanished along with their residents.  We are now told that the threat from Al Qaeda has dispersed to numerous other countries.  Interestingly, most of the enemy combatants (as defined by the intelligence services) who have been executed by drone aircraft have been in Pakistan, one of our allies.

The conflict in Afghanistan has caused the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and severe life changing injuries to hundreds of others.  The death toll amongst Afghan nationals numbers into the tens of thousands……

Extraordinary Rendition and Guantanamo Bay……

The British Government has been complicit in the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of UK citizens to many different countries where, it is claimed, the victims have been tortured and some have ended up in Guantanamo Bay, deemed by almost all human rights organisations as an illegal detention camp where the basic principals of justice are not abided by.

If the UK intelligence agencies have proof that the victims of extraordinary rendition have committed crimes worthy of extradition, then we have a perfectly adequate legal system with which to deal with such cases.  Allowing a foreign government to kidnap people from the streets and whisk them away to another country amounts to a breach of human rights and complicity in a war crime……

Drones……An MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada

The UK now owns and operates drone aircraft with the capability to take lives by remote control.  This is happening over other sovereign territories without any legal process being applied and amounts to an act of war.  We are told by our trustworthy politicians that the targets of these attacks are ‘terrorists’ and pose a direct threat to the UK.  I find this hard to believe.

Since 9/11 the American and British Governments have acted with impunity, invading countries at will and under false pretences.  They have cost hundreds of thousands of lives of innocent civilians whose only crime is to live in a target country.  They have cost the lives of hundreds of troops and irreparably ruined the lives of hundreds of others.  They continue to detain ‘enemy combatants’ without access to legal representation and without charge.  Their justification for these actions is ‘the war on terror’; a war which has only been exacerbated by their actions and the only people we have to trust for information about the alleged threat comes from the politicians who pull the strings.  I would go as far as to postulate that the war on terror has put us a greater risk from radical groups.  Every act of terrorism wherever it happens and by which ever group we are told is ‘linked to Al Qaeda’ although this has never been proven in a court.

Should you wish to perpetuate a war with no end goal what better than an undefined, non-geographical enemy.  The ‘war on terror’ is a media war, not a credible, organised threat orchestrated by a central command……

The Rules of Engagement……

15 Oct

The Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War……

As five Royal Marines are currently under investigation for their treatment of a captured Afghani insurgent the Rules of Engagement are in the media spotlight.  Little information has been released to the press surrounding the allegations of the mistreatment of the Afghani but it would appear that during an engagement he was wounded and taken prisoner.  What happens next is unknown.  However, under the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 75 U.N.T.S. 135, entered into force Oct. 21, 1950, there is a very clear set of rules which need to be followed.

Specifically and most applicably, Article 3, which states:

Part I:  ‘Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria’

 

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

 

(a)   Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture

(b)   Taking of hostages

(c)    Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment

(d)   The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples

 

Part II:  ‘The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for’

 

‘An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict’

In short, you must provide care for a wounded party and treat them with dignity.  The suggestion from media sources is that the five Royal Marines failed to follow these basic requirements to some degree.

What Justification was There for the Military to be in Afghanistan…..?

The attacks on Afghanistan were instigated by the United States in the aftermath of 9/11 and before any concrete links were established.  The justification came from the idea that Osama Bin Laden had ‘terrorist’ training camps and was controlling his worldwide network of terror from the hills of Tora Bora.  The evidence for this was pure fabrication.  The 19 hijackers were almost all Saudi nationals and all trained in the US.  It is now widely accepted amongst the media that videos showing the alleged training camps in action were staged for the cameras.  Dick Cheyney went on national television with an elaborate plan showing the scale of the underground bunkers from which Bin Laden was allegedly operating.  As you can see from the diagram presented by Cheyney, after extensive bombing raids when the troops on the ground reached the caves they found only small, naturally formed caves, some with small stockpiles of ammunition.  It was a far cry from the highly advanced war machine sold to us by the US Department of Defence.  Despite this the full might of the US military machine rolled into Afghanistan……

And on the Subject of the Geneva Conventions……

I would like first to address the issue of ‘insurgents’, or rather its meaning which has become distorted by the media.  Various definitions can be found but the main thread is that of a person acting in revolt against an invading army, a revolutionary or defender of sovereign territory.  The portrayal in the media has tainted the term ‘insurgent’ with connotations of ‘a terrorist’ when in reality it would be better described as an uprising against tyranny.

The reason I raise this is again in relation to the use of unmanned Predator Drone strikes against ‘insurgents’ in the north of Pakistan.  It is difficult to establish the number of civilian casualties but since the Obama administration took office figures suggest a number of around 600 innocent civilians, 60 of which are though to be children.  Of the others killed in the attacks we have only the confirmation of the administration that they were in fact ‘enemy combatants’ and what imminent threat was posed by them is unclear.

Despite the Geneva Conventions and other internally accepted rules of engagement, the US military continues to use its 7,500 drones to kill people on the ground without presenting any evidence that they were a threat to US national security or any other ally.

This extrajudicial execution of individuals at the will of the US, illegal detention without trial in Camp Delta, torture of detainees and any other unmonitored activity carried out by the state has to stop and the Rules of Engagement re-examined.

What Would you do…..?

Imagining that you were to swap places with the people of northern Pakistan or Afghanistan and you witnessed terror reigning down from the skies, killing innocent members of your family and your children; would you be more or less likely to seek revenge for these killings, carried out by the supposed most democratic country on Earth?

The United States of America and its allies are not fighting a ‘war on terror’, they are creating one.  One which suits the plans of the Neo-Conservatives who wrote the Project for a New American Century’ calling for a ‘war without end’ against ‘an invisible enemy’.  A war where ‘thought crime’ is now a reality.

‘The United States of America is the most dangerous country on Earth.  Their crimes against humanity and violation of human rights make Iran and North Korea appear benign in comparison.  The next big conflict will be instigated by the USA and it will be they who make the first moves of aggression’……

 

UK Courts Set a Dangerous Precedent in Hamza Extradition Case……

5 Oct

The Constitution & Bill of Rights……

The United States of America has long thought of itself as a beacon of democracy with a Constitution and Bill of Rights which guarantee an individual certain statutes in law.  The US Constitution was originally intended to protect the individual citizen from the power of state and, to define the separation of church and state, guaranteeing freedom from religious persecution.

Since, and indeed before the attacks of September 2001, the gradual erosion of the Constitution has been taking place more often than not under the guise of public protection from ‘terrorism’.  The Patriot Acts I & II and the Homeland Security Act have undermined many of the statutes enshrined in the Constitution, giving the Government and its agencies unprecedented powers to detain, search and seize property without the need for a Warrant.  The power to ‘spy’ on individuals has also been ‘watered down’ and, most worryingly, the absolute separation of civil policing and the military has been effectively suspended.

There are some groups who are vehemently opposed to the undermining of the Constitution such as Infowars.com and Prisonplanet.com, the websites run by the outspoken radio host Alex Jones.  Alex is very well informed and I strongly recommend you check out some of these links to gain a better insight into the American domestic situation.

‘The Fall of the Republic’      ‘The End Game – New World Order Defined’

The UK’s Complicity and the Implications for Justice……

We are all aware of GuantanamoBay, the ‘ghost site’ that operates outside of the US boarders and abuses the human rights of the detainees with impunity.  Extended periods of solitary confinement, water-boarding, sleep deprivation and extreme interrogation techniques (including the use of dogs) are a daily occurrence and, I use the word ‘extreme’; the US authorities call it ‘enhanced’.  The US authorities admit that this takes place but deny that water-boarding is torture.  Accusations of insults against the detainee’s religion have been denied but in light of the other abuses we have no reason to believe otherwise.  We know the UK Government has been complicit in the ‘extraordinary rendition, of UK nationals from our SovereignTerritory.  The Government has taken no official position on the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen which have killed innocent civilians alongside the ‘terrorists’ whose designation as ‘enemy combatants’ we only have the US Government’s word that they are who they say they are.

Today, the extradition of Abu Hamza and four other suspected ‘terrorists’, is setting another dangerous precedent.  Hamza may well be guilty of involvement in terrorism but can we be assured he will be treated in accordance with international laws and receive a fair trial.  The facility at which he will be held is ADX Florence and he will most likely be subject to Special Administrate Measures (SAMS).  This means he will be held in solitary confinement in an acoustically isolated cell, with no access to newspapers or the media.  He will only be allowed to communicate with his immediate family and legal team and written communications can be subject to a six month delay.  Under SAMS, limitations can be placed on the media reporting of his case.

Take a Stand……

I abhor any act of terrorism and loss of life but I also abhor acts of aggression taken by governments in the name of ‘national security, in which many hundreds of thousands of innocent lives are lost as collateral damage.  The same protagonists, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, have been at the centre of US politics for the past 40 years and have an unhealthy relationship with the military industrial complex that makes billions of dollars as a result of conflict.  The policy makers, financiers and arms manufacturers form the iron triangle that is happy to business with the Saudis and dictatorships all over the world, provided they are on the ‘right’ side.  Meanwhile, they turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of their allies and the ones committed by them in ‘the war on terror’.

I put it to you:  Who is the More Dangerous? 

A few poorly funded, disorganised, fanatical groups operating out of the dust bowls in the boarders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen; whom, coincidentally, have committed very few acts of terrorism over the past ten years and not because they have been invaded by the might of the United States Military?

Or:

The largest, and only, multi-billion dollar military superpower in the world, acting with impunity and executing whomever it sees fit, unchallenged by the rest of the civilised world, arming other military dictatorships and in its quest in the ‘war on terror’ probably giving incentive to the very people it wants to destroy.  Were they not pursuing the ‘war on terror’, those they are fighting would return to fighting within their own local struggles for power, which although not ideal for anybody caught up in the fighting at a local level, has been happening for centuries before the CIA funded the Mujahadeen and created Al Queda in doing so.

America is the problem; not Islam……

‘Please support Reprieve in the fight for justice’

 

Thank you

Steve…

The International Criminal Court……

27 Apr

The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 for the purpose of bringing to trial Dictators, Rebel Forces Leaders and other undesirables accused of committing Human Rights violations and Crimes against Humanity.  I have not been able to find a definitive figure for the costs of running the ICC, although it is almost certainly into hundreds of millions of Pounds annually, paid for by the tax payers of signatory countries.  With no shortage of candidates responsible for Human Rights violations, one would have expected the ICC to proudly list its achievements.  However, to date they have secured only one such conviction, that of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor……

Charles Taylor was found guilty of ‘Aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting the rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone, in return for ‘blood diamonds’.  Some of the abhorrent crimes committed in Sierra Leone range from the raping of women and children, amputation of limbs, the burning down of villages and the use of child soldiers.  The sentence has yet to be announced but the ICC does not have the death penalty in its remit.  Life, or 25 years is likely to be the sentence handed down.  And where will Charles Taylor be incarcerated; in aUK high security prison at an estimated cost of £100,000 per year.  Again, I have not been able to establish who will bare the cost of this……

I am fully committed to the trials of Human Rights abusers but with many, many candidates who could be brought before the ICC, a poultry single successful conviction in over ten years of operation appears to show that the ICC has very little practical use for the purpose for which it was set up.  It is merely the ICC in name only and whist the rest of the world faces austerity, slave labour and starvation for many, you can be fairly confident that the ICC big-wigs and employees will be getting well remunerated……

There are many candidates who could be brought before the ICC.  The Chinese Government, former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and Sri Lankan rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, to name but a few.  The question of the United Kingdom and United State’s complicity into the illegal ‘extraordinary rendition’ of their own citizens to face torture in 3rd party states and subsequent detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase, could easily be defined as Human Rights abuses by many.  The issue of innocent civilians losing their lives in the drone attacks against alleged ‘enemy combatants’, killed by the US Government on foreign sovereign territories, without being subject to any judicial process, could also amount to contraventions of Human Rights law and international criminal acts.  Somehow, I don’t imagine George W. Bush, Tony Blair or any high ranking officials being summoned to face charges at the ICC any time soon……

The International Criminal Court is little more than a folly set up to satisfy the West’s interpretation of crimes against humanity and appears to apply to Middle Eastern and African countries.  The West has chosen to apply its own version of what constitutes a war crime and human rights abuse by a definition which suits them and absolves them from the application of unilateral standards……

Charles Taylor intends to appeal his conviction by the ICC, a process which could take even more time and cost you and I even more in tax contributions.  Watch this space……