Friday, July 4, 2008

Extra! Extra! America Violates International Law!

Might is right. Thus it comes as no surprise to hear that they are killing people without due process in America. Imagine your surprise, when you! some difference, Reece's Peanut Butter Pieces inside. oops, sorry, a bit of a flashback from cartoon days... Anyways, the latest kerfuffle comes via Mexico. Can you imagine that, the Mexicans complaining about American mistreatment? What? 160 years after the US stole much of the south from them? Thank God (large G or small g, as you wish) the Canadians finished the railroad in time before Manifest Destiny kicked in.

The USA still has the death penalty. Much like the Saudis or Bangladesh, or wait a second, how could you tell me this isn't a test of how far a society has developed. The death penalty is like something out of the Koran or the Bible, look, capital letters and all for you believers. Here's a list of the countries that still perform capital punishment:
Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, China (People's Republic), Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Korea-North, Korea-South, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Ummm, that's kind of long. But look closer at the list, Japan is the only other country there besides the US that is considered a "developed" nation. Back to Mexico, who of course passed the death penalty phase of societal development in... wait a second, don't tell me that Mexico has never had the death penalty...Reader's please let me know if this is false. Anyway, Mexico has made an emergency appeal to the World Court to block the execution of its citizens in the US as they are in defiance or a previous World Court ruling (see below). The complaint is based on the fact that the Americans haven't been letting the accused know that they have the RIGHT to consular assistance. ummm, yeah, believe it or not, if people are accused of a crime in a nation other than their own, they can speak to people from their country before being put to death. Whether or not you believe that capital punishment is right on moral grounds, the biggest problem with it is the chance of mistaken convictions, so due process, no matter how insignificant, is of huge importance. In America alone, there have been 111 people released from death row because DNA evidence exonerated them after they were convicted.

Let's look at the organization of the World Court seeing as it's the first time I've written about it here. The International Court of Justice seems to be a force even too powerful for Google, as it's the Permanent Court of International Justice, the International Court of Justice (the real one now), or the International Criminal Court(genocide only) if you search under World Court (try it, this stuff is confusing). Basically the International Court is the judicial arm of the United Nations, responsible for resolving disputes between nations and at times giving other forms of legal advice. Upon its creation, the court's verdicts were binding on nations, but that is so passe, ever since 1986 when the US withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction. If you're wondering why well, it's, surprise, because the court ruled against America in favour of the Nicaraguan government when it lodged a complaint about the US mining its harbour in support of the Sandanistas.

The Mexicans' cases are quite serious, maybe one of them raped and killed a couple women (funny that's the only case they give any news about in the Reuter's report). The world's judicial forum, the court in the Hague must decide before the execution date of August 5 if a Mexican scheduled to die had his day in court. Oh yeah, there's 51 other Mexicans on death row paying attention to the ruling that could come in time to save their lives. The weirdest angle to the story is that Dubya, as in George W., gave the poor bastards waiting to be offed a bit of help; he ordered the states' attorneys, as in Texas', California's and Oklahoma's, to do a bit of work, to back check after a 2004 World Court ruling the US had violated international law. Somewhat ironically, his home state of Texas refused and then the US Supreme court ruled 6-3 that George didn't have the authority to force state courts to comply with World Court rulings. Dubya had overstepped his authority by saying the US and its states must adhere to its international treaty obligations.

George knows damn well that the US no longer needs to comply with the wishes of most of the world. In fact, shortly after the first World Court ruling regarding the necessity of reviews due to the lack of consular assistance, he quietly had Condeleeza Rice inform the UN that the US was withdrawing from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights, originally an American proposal from 1963. You can't find many things on the net from before '96, but a lot of it is from the Best of America Soundtrack of not give a fuck what the rest of the world says. Not a big surprise to see countries such as the Sudan now defy orders from the same organization, good example hmmm Darfur anyone? (Crazy Bush is good reporting here). The argument of the Texans is that states need not comply with international law, sounds a bit like the old Guantanamo gambit. At this moment in Guatanamo there are, umm, there were 619 prisoners in 2004, who really knows how many are left and where they're from anymore? (it's really difficult googling for Guantanamo these days, more than 5 years after the camp was set up, so many results, around 270 prisoners remain I believe)

Another strange development has to do with Guantanamo. The same Supreme Court ruled last week the Americans government had to abide by Habeas Corpus, yes, I do mean the accused in Guantanamo will have the right to full judicial review of their detention. Day in court and all that, maybe, 5 years later after being locked up. Of course this is a war on terror stuff that followed hot the heels of the illegal invasion of Iraq. Why else would the US refuse to ratify the treaty that established the International criminal court except for the fact that they know most of the men behind this war would be convicted there.

Back in the 1930's a pair of fascist states walked out of the League of Nations. Germany and Italy were not willing to allow international law to impose itself on their foreign policy objectives. Mussolini and Hitler both had to shake free of any kind of treaties, pact or alliances that would restrict their ambitions. It's not hard to see a parallel with the United States of George W. Bush. The term "unsigning" was practically invented to describe the Americans moves to withdraw from their obligations to the International Criminal Court, the CTBT, a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights and even Boundary treaties with Canada (Almost funny, check it out). Remember how they tried to fool the UN into giving permission for the Iraq War? Well, next time they probably won't even bother to ask.


dudleysharp said...

Some correction.

8 death row inmates have been released from death row in the US because of DNA exclusion, not 111.

And a bit more on the ICJ or World Court, regarding Mexico's claims.

A Review of the Vienna Convention and US detention of foreign nations
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

RE: The International Court of Justice's (hereinafter ICJ) decision in the case of US violations of the Vienna Convention (hereinafter VC), in a case brought by Mexico re: 52 Mexican nationals on US death row.
1. The ICJ decision violates the specific, unequivocal directive of the Vienna Convention that the Convention in:
 "Realizing that the purpose of such privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of functions by consular posts on behalf of their respective States"
2. This directive is given specific, additional support, within the subject Article 36 of the VC: within the opening and dominant directive of Paragraph 1:
 "With a view to facilitating the exercise of consular functions relating to nationals of the sending State"
3. The ICJ completely dismisses this unequivocal directive of the VC. Put bluntly, the ICJ has no respect for the spirit and specific directives of the VC, in this regard. Had the ICJ honored the specific directives of the VC, this case would have been dismissed.
4. The ICJ circumvents their own precedents. Go to  Separate opinion of Judge Vereshchetin (PDF 30 Kb)
As well as other comments.

 Practicalities of The Vienna Convention
1. The primary violation of the VC, from which all others are dependent, is that the US did not inform arrested foreign nationals of their right to contact their own consulate. That's it.

The police didn't say:

"You have the right to contact your conculate, if you want to."
2. It is very important to point out that
a.  all detainees could have contacted their consulates whenever they wanted to, absent that notification and
b. all 52 detainees had attorneys who all knew they could contact the consular offices, at any time, had they believed such contact could have been helpful. They didn't.
c. No one prevented anyone from contacting thier embassy
The main issue of this ICJ court case was not the violation of notification, which both parties had conceded to for some time, but one of the remedy for such violation. 

Ignoring the fact that the VC states that the VC has nothing to do with individual rights, and the fact that the ICJ doesn't care what the VC says on that issue, the ICJ  stated that the US must provide new hearings in these cases.
In the US, hearings are based upon meeting a threshold of evidence which can support the call for a hearing. If that threshold is not met, then the appellate courts will rule against a hearing. Overwhelmingly, the VC issues have been reviewed by courts and the claims have been dismissed.

They have been barred because of time limitations on originating the appeal or not preserving it at trial, properly, or that the VC issue resulted in harmless error, meaning that neither the sentence nor the verdict would have changed, had the VC been properly administered.
Many appellate claims for US citizens are denied in US courts for the exact same reasons.
Paragraph 2, article 36 states:

"2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be exercised in conformity with the laws and regulations of the receiving State, subject to the proviso, however, that the said laws and regulations must enable full effect to be given to the purposes for which the rights accorded under this Article are intended. "

The appeals, as reviewed above, have, already, fulfilled this requirement.
In the overwhelming majority of the 52 Mexican detainee cases, there is little doubt that the detainees received super due process and other protections within their cases.

Looking specifically at the dates of when these 52 detainees were originally arrested, and the history of Mexico's interest in Mexican nationals arrested in the US at such times, there is very little or no supportive evidence that Mexico would have provided any additional assistance, at all, or an additonal assistance  which would have impacted the end result in these cases, had their consulates been notified at that time.

dudleysharp said...

This, from the French daily Le Monde, December 2006 (1):

Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:  
Great Britain: 69%
France: 58%
Germany: 53%
Spain: 51%
Italy: 46%
USA: 82%

We are led to believe there isn't death penalty support in England or Europe. European governments won't allow executions when their populations support it: they're anti democratic. (2)

97%+ of Guatemalans support the death penalty. 2.6% oppose
(telephone survey, newspaper Prensa Libre, 2/14/08)

79% support the resumption of hanging in Jamaica. 16% oppose.  (Bill Johnson Polling for The Gleaner (Jamaica) Newspaper, 1/12-13/08

Two-thirds of Czechs for death penalty reintroduction - poll
Prague- Almost two-thirds of Czechs believe that death penalty should exist in the Czech Republic, while one-third believes the opposite, according to a poll the CVVM agency conducted in May and released.  June 12, 2008,

(1) The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harris for the French daily Le Monde on the death penalty shocked the editors and writers at Germany's left-leaning SPIEGEL ONLINE (Dec. 22, 2006). When asked whether they favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, a majority of respondents in Germany, France and Spain responded in the affirmative.

(2)An excellent article, “Death in Venice: Europe’s Death-penalty Elitism", details this anti democratic position (The New Republic,  by Joshua Micah Marshall, 7/31/2000). Another situation reflects this same mentality. "(Pres. Mandela says 'no' to reinstating the death penalty in South Africa - Nelson Mandela against death penalty though 93% of public favors it, according to poll. "(JET, 10/14/96). Pres. Mandela explained that ". . . it was necessary to inform the people about other strategies the government was using to combat crime." As if the people didn't understand. South Africa has had some of the highest crime rates in the world in the ten years, since Mandela's comments. "The number of murders committed each year in the country is as high as 47,000, according to Interpol statistics." As of 2006, 72% of South Africans want the death penalty back. ("South Africans Support Death Penalty",  5/14/2006,  Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research).

Troy said...

How ridiculous of a statement is "Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:.." ???

Is this supposed to mean that Europeans, really, no matter what public opinion states during election time (and nasty democratic elections where more than 2 parties are present), even if it is published in a French newspaper (or supposedly "left leaning" german der speigel!), reflect that they really do think killing is the way a civilized government should act?

Your statistics regarding Spain are ludicrous and taken completely out of context. It is possible that a few remaining supporters of the Franco regime and die hard Catholics would gladly head to the gallows with you to cheer on a public execution, but the vast majority of the population would be completely revolted to know that you are twisting some obscure poll to say that they would even conceive of supporting government sponsored Murder.

"We are lead to believe.." you say, do you have a passport, have you ever left the good 'ol US of A and actually spoken to people? Even without a passport you could head up north to Canada and find out exactly what others think of state sponsored murder.

But really, we are splitting hairs here. The question boils down to the following: "Do you support murder and revenge in the name of your government?" If your answer is yes, pick up the old testament and keep on praying for Armageddon!

dudleysharp said...

execution is not murder, unless you equate legal incarceration and illegal kidnapping.

There is a fundamental moral difference between punishment and crime.

And execution cannot be compared to revenge, either.

A death sentence requires pre existing statutes, trial and appeals, considerations of guilt and due process, to name but a few. Revenge requires none of these and, in fact, does not even require guilt or a crime.

The criminal justice system goes out of its way to take hatred and revenge out of the process. That is why we have a system of pre existing laws and legal procedures that offer extreme protections to defendants and those convicted and which limit punishments and prosecutions to specific crimes.

It is also why those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in the case.

The reality is that the pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much much greater time, money and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty - the opposite of a sytem marked with vengeance.

Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge is simply a way in which some death penalty opponents attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. It can also be a transparent insult which results in additional hurt to those victim survivors who have already suffered so much and who believe that execution is the appropriate punishment for those who murdered their loved one(s).

Far from moral superiority, those who call capital punishment an expression of hatred and revenge are often exhibiting their contempt for those who believe differently than they do.

The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances.

Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US - unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge - an unreasonable, unfounded position

Far from hatred and revenge, the death penalty represents our greatest condemnation for a crime of unequaled horror and consequence. Lesser punishments may suffice under some circumstances. A death sentence for certain heinous crimes is given in those special circumstances when a jury finds such is more just than a lesser sentence.

Less justice is not what we need.

A thorough review of the criminal justice system will often beg this question: Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims?

The punishment of death is, in no way, a balancing between harm and punishment, because the innocent murder victim did not deserve or earn their fate, whereas the murderer has earned their own, deserved punishment by the free will action of violating societies laws and an individuals life and, thereby, voluntarily subjecting themselves to that jurisdictions judgment.