When George Bush’s term of office is over, he won’t be traveling abroad much. Why? Because he could end up in jail. How? Read on.
From: Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
…shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) 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;
I think it’s safe to say that in Iraq we broke this provision of the Geneva Convention. If your reaction is ‘no we didn’t!’ I direct you to sections (a) and (c) above. So the next question to answer is, are we bound by these rules? Attourney General Alberto Gonzolas doesn’t think so, but what does the UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 118, ? 2441 have to say?
2441. War crimes
(a) Offense.? Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
(b) Circumstances.? The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
(c) Definition.? As used in this section the term ?war crime? means any conduct?
(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or
(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.
I see specific references to the Geneva Convention quoted earlier. It is tied together quite nicely. So basically our Uniform Code of Military Justice ties our military to the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. But you might say, ‘these aren’t real prisoners of war.’ I say to you, that acording to US law, it doesn’t matter! Consider the following.
18 USC Sec. 2340A
Title 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure
Part I – Crimes
Chapter 113C – Torture
Sec. 2340A. Torture
(a) Offense. – Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction. – There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if –
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.? A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
Pay particular attention to section (c) above. Some believe that a directive to torture prisoners came from the highest levels of the executive branch of our government. I have wondered why Attourney General Alberto Gonzolas has spent so much time trying to tell us why the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners does not apply to Iraq while at the same time we prosecute military prison guards for violating these same rules.
Which brings us to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). See the full text here if interested: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm
Here is the jucy bit…
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
I feel bad for our convicted prison guards, but this puts them squarely on the hook. Even if the US Military were to forgive them for following a superior’s orders, UNCAT puts them once again at risk.
Augusto Pinochet traveled to England in 1998 and was arrested on a warrent issued by Baltasar Garzon of Spain. The charges included 94 counts of torture of Spanish citizens. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augusto_Pinochet)
Despite his release on grounds of ill-health, the unprecedented detention of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, a senator and former head of state of Chile, in a foreign country, for crimes against humanity committed in his own country while he was head of state, without a warrant or request for extradition from his own country, marks a watershed in international law, one of the most important events since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon’s case was largely founded on the principle of universal jurisdiction?that certain crimes are so egregious that they constitute crimes against humanity and can therefore be prosecuted in any court in the world. The British House of Lords ruled that Pinochet had no right to immunity from prosecution as a former head of state, and could be put on trial.
So what does this say to President Bush? He should enjoy his retirement stateside if he knows what’s good for him.