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OpEdNews Exclusive: United States is not a signatory to United Nations Human Rights and Torture Convention!

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Over ten years ago, I filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Attorney Generals office that Government officials in Montgomery County Pennsylvania had intentionally physically harmed me using cruel and inhuman tactics in January of 1998. Copies of this complaint were given to Pennsylvania's two senators at the time, Senator Specter being one. State Representative John Fichter and Congressman Joseph Hoeffel directly participated in the filings and follow-ups. The main person to handle the information was Kandy Heckman who now works for Hon. Mike Vereb (State Rep) after John Fichter's retirement.

Being that my complaint had been "red taped" for 10 years, it was suggested that I file a Article 22 complaint with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, alleging Torture and Abuse by the United States of America, State of Pennsylvania, County of Montgomery. My complaint meet the criteria and laws contained in the UN Treaty and US Law and therefore qualified. On December 18, 2007, the complaint was filed.

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the purview of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world.

The Convention advises states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their borders, and forbids states to return people to their home country if there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
The text of the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and, following ratification by the 20th state party, it came into force on 26 June 1987; 26 June is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, in honor of the Convention. To date, 142 nations are parties to it, with another nine having signed but not yet ratified. The United States signed the Treaty on April 18th 1988 and ratified the Treaty on October 21st 1994.
The United Nations Committee against Torture defines torture as the following in Article 1:

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

The United Nations also requires that each state that is a signatory to the Treaty include within that states laws provisions to include offences and penalties applicable to this type of criminal activity. These are contained in

Article 4:

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

As part of the treaty signed in 1984 by the United States, the following Addendums were added to the Treaty on behalf of the United States as drafted by the US Senate:
United States of America

Upon signature :

Declaration:

"The Government of the United States of America reserves the right to communicate, upon ratification, such reservations, interpretive understandings, or declarations as are deemed necessary."

Upon ratification :

Reservations:

"I. The Senate's advice and consent is subject to the following reservations:

(1) That the United States considers itself bound by the obligation under article 16 to prevent 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment', only insofar as the term 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

(2) That pursuant to article 30 (2) the United States declares that it does not consider itself bound by Article 30 (1), but reserves the right specifically to agree to follow this or any other procedure for arbitration in a particular case.

II. The Senate's advice and consent is subject to the following understandings, which shall apply to the obligations of the United States under this Convention:

(1) (a) That with reference to article 1, the United States understands that, in order to constitute torture, an act must be specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering and that mental pain or suffering refers to prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from (1) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (2) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (3) the threat of imminent death; or (4) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.
(b) That the United States understands that the definition of torture in article 1 is intended to apply only to acts directed against persons in the offender's custody or physical control.
(c) That with reference to article 1 of the Convention, the United States understands that 'sanctions' includes judicially-imposed sanctions and other enforcement actions authorized by United States law or by judicial interpretation of such law. Nonetheless, the United States understands that a State Party could not through its domestic sanctions defeat the object and purpose of the Convention to prohibit torture.
(d) That with reference to article 1 of the Convention, the United States understands that the term 'acquiescence' requires that the public official, prior to the activity constituting torture, have awareness of such activity and thereafter breach his legal responsibility to intervene to prevent such activity.
(e) That with reference to article 1 of the Convention, the Unites States understands that non compliance with applicable legal procedural standards does not per se constitute torture.

(2) That the United States understands the phrase, 'where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture,' as used in article 3 of the Convention, to mean 'if it is more likely than not that he would be tortured.'

(3) That it is the understanding of the United States that article 14 requires a State Party to provide a private right of action for damages only for acts of torture committed in territory under the jurisdiction of that State Party.

(4) That the United States understands that international law does not prohibit the death penalty, and does not consider this Convention to restrict or prohibit the United States from applying the death penalty consistent with the Fifth, Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, including any constitutional period of confinement prior to the imposition of the death penalty.

(5) That the United States understands that this Convention shall be implemented by the United States Government to the extent that it exercises legislative and judicial jurisdiction over the matters covered by the Convention and otherwise by the state and local governments. Accordingly, in implementing articles 10-14 and 16, the United States Government shall take measures appropriate to the Federal system to the end that the competent authorities of the constituent units of the United States of America may take appropriate measures for the fulfillment of the Convention.

III. The Senate's advice and consent is subject to the following declarations:

(1) That the United States declares that the provisions of articles 1 through 16 of the Convention are not self-executing.

On February 6th 2008 I received a letter from and the contents of that letter (see below) astounded me. In short, it says that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights can not prosecute the United States of America for Human Rights violations under Article 22 because after the 2002 re-ratification of the Treaty, the United States did not sign the new Treaty.


United Nations Letter Page 1



United Nations Letter Page 2


What does all of this mean? Let's break it down into manageable parts with Treaties for the average person.
The Constitution is the "supreme Law of the Land." It is controlling as to all officials of the three Branches of the Federal government--Executive, Legislative and Judicial--with regard to all of their pronouncements, actions, decisions, agreements and legislative Acts. Each of them is sworn, by oath of office, to support the Constitution only. To be valid, any treaty must be strictly in conformity to--free from any conflict with--the Constitution. A treaty is like a Federal law in this respect.

The Constitution is supreme over laws and treaties; it expressly states (Article VI, Section 2) that: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . ." This means that any such Law (Act of Congress) which violates the Constitution is automatically made null and void to start with--nullified by the Constitution itself--and therefore cannot be a part of the "supreme Law of the Land." This is also true as to treaties.

In short, the United States signed a Treaty that they would not violate Human Rights and Torture people within our boundaries and can only do so if it does not conflict and is in line with the US Constitution. The United States then put in provisions to provide the loop holes by which the United States and government officials could not be prosecuted by the World Court if they violated what was contained in the Treaty and in effect our Constitution.

In I(2) the Senate made sure that the United States would never be held to outside interpretation by another State (country) if a complaint filed against the United State had merit via arbitration or a court outside US control.

In short-short, it's not a crime until we (the US) say it is a crime even if the rest of the world says it is a crime. Article 30 reads as follows:
Article 30

1. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

2. Each State may, at the time of signature or ratification of this Convention or accession thereto, declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph I of this article. The other States Parties shall not be bound by paragraph I of this article with respect to any State Party having made such a reservation.

In II(1)(e) the Unite States says that violation of legal procedures does not per se mean a violation of the law and that a person was tortured. What the hell does that mean? Do legal procedures involve torture or can they, Gitmo maybe?

In II(3) that if you are tortured by the United States you can only receive damages if it happened on US soil. In a story by John Burton, he wrote about the US courts decision rejecting the claim of four British citizens tortured by the United States and he wrote:

On January 11, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a case brought by four British citizens seeking money damages to compensate them for having been tortured by the US government. The four individuals were held for more than two years at the United States Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

With an outlandish display of convoluted and specious logic, the three-judge panel issued a precedent establishing that non-US citizens outside US national borders cannot seek any redress in any US court for torture or other deprivations of constitutional and statutory rights inflicted by US government officials.

In reality the Senate in this Treaty created the out for the US courts to deny damages to anyone who is tortured if it happened outside the US soil. Gitmo again, pattern getting clearer.

In II(5) the United States guarantees that all law enforcement personal, federal, state and local will be bound by this Convention and the appropriate "avenues" will be available to make sure that these personal are trained on Articles 10-14 and 16, which are as follows:

Article 10

1. Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

2. Each State Party shall include this prohibition in the rules or instructions issued in regard to the duties and functions of any such person.

Article 11

Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any cases of torture.

Article 12

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

Article 13

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.

Article 14

1. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependants shall be entitled to compensation.

2. Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the victim or other persons to compensation which may exist under national law.

Article 16

1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or expulsion.

In my case and many we have all seen on CNN, YouTube and so on all of the above Articles have been violated. These sections clearly spell out along with our Constitution and Bill of Rights what treatment we should receive when in the custody of the State.

But there is one more piece we have to discuss prior to commenting on what all of this means and that is the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2002 and in force since 22 June 2006. This has some very important provisions added after what happened on 911. The adjustments or additions of the Convention Against Torture are as follows:

Article 1

1. Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

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.

Article 3

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Article 16

1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

There are several points which need highlighting:

Section 1: torture is defined as severe pain or suffering, which means there must be levels of pain and suffering which are not severe enough to be called torture (often termed "cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment"). However, "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is independently proscribed by Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Discussions on this area of international law are influenced by a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on sensory deprivation.

Section 2: If a state has signed the treaty without reservations,[1] then there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever where a state can use torture and not break its treaty obligations. However the worst sanction which can be applied to a powerful country is the publishing of the information that they have broken their treaty obligations. In certain exceptional cases the authorities in those countries may consider that with plausible deniability that this is an acceptable risk to take as the definition of severe is open to flexible interpretation.

Section 16: contains the phrase territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, so if the government of a state authorises its personnel to use sensory deprivation on a detainee in territory not under its jurisdiction then it is suggested that that government has not broken its treaty obligations.

The above letter from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights is directly related to the 2002 Convention as the U.S.A. did not sign the Treaty. Also noticeably absent from the list is ALL of the countries that have been identified as working with the US on the suspected transport and torture of POWs, excuse me detainee's or is it enemy combatants.

Link to list of signatories. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/9_b.htm

I know this is allot to digest but you have to have all the facts prior to explaining what was the thought process that this administration has used to conduct itself with citizens and non-citizens in custody of the State.

After 911 this country went wild, as we did after Perl Harbor, to seek and destroy the person(s) responsible for the attack in NYC. Like the McCarthy era it has become terrorists coming out of the wood work instead of communists. While we knew it was sponsored by a mid-eastern terrorist group it was not until President Bush identified Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden did we have a face and a target. With that we obtained permission from the Afghanistan Government to help rout Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from the mountains bordering Pakistan and to bring in "Dead or Alive" Osama Bin Laden to justice. As all of this was happening, the UN was trying to put into force the Treaty signed in 1984 and add new or reworded Articles as they had information that Articles of the Treaty were being violated by the United States in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

Remember the United States is a signatory to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POW's and would never dare to openly violate that Treaty, but they had a problem with the 1984 signing of the Convention for Human Rights and Torture. Also remember that ALL Treaties signed and ratified become the Supreme Law of the Land, become, for all purposes, part of the Constitution.

Being that the US Legal system can twist a beam of light in mid air with its lingo and nonsense, the World decided to write the additional clarifications to the 1984 Convention with the hope of at a minimum curtailing the illegal activities of the United States and its Allies after 911.

In the Section 1, referencing Article 1 of the Optional Protocols, of the point that needs highlighting, the Convention added the wording that severe pain and suffering often termed "cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment" is added to the original 1984 Treaty. By doing this the UN amended the Treaty to use the laws and definitions of US laws to define torture. Under US law, it is not torture unless we say so, remember? If you remember the massive discussions, where even Senator McCain spoke if water boarding was torture and said it was, was all about this section. If the US is in violation of that section of the 1984 Treaty, the US could be held accountable in the world court.

Section 2, referencing Article 2 of the Optional Protocols, is directed squarely at the US. It says that under no circumstance can we use any excuse to break the Treaty, including 911. It also directs this section square at our courts that they do not have the right to order torture or "cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment" at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.

Section 16 , referencing Article 16 of the Optional Protocols, is to address what happened at Gitmo. Even though not on our soil, it still counts, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo again.

Article 3 in the Optional Protocols deals with transport of prisoners who are transported to other States that will do torture. The World knew what we were doing not only to circumvent international law, but our own laws as well.

Bottom line, it would seem that the US would not sign this Treaty because the US did not want to be held accountable for torture on the world stage or at home. This level of a decision not to sign a Treaty can only come from a cabinet level position which means that the President has to be informed. (Unless someone is willing to fall on his/her sword) It would also seem to verify that because the US was knowingly violating Human Rights and using what the people of the US would call torture, but what this administration light bending legal definitions has twisted into "extreme interrogations", this administration twisted and buried the truth once again from the American People with the heading of National Security.

The CIA tapes that were destroyed may have contained not only evidence that we violated our own laws, but international laws as well. Does anyone remember that DONALD RUMSFELD WAS CHARGED WITH TORTURE DURING A TRIP TO FRANCE!

The world knew what was happening, but the US did not care and though its actions and lack of action made every American citizen complacent in torture and abuse. Do you not remember how the world, including the US, viewed the German people when we all learned the truth of the Nazi death camps?

What is the monkey wrench in all of this elaborate planning for the past 20 plus years, me!

I am an American citizen, I am not an enemy combatant or POW (not yet at least), my rights are covered by the Constitution and therefore the Treaty signed in 1984 (which was in effect in January of 1998) as it had become the Supreme Law of the Land. Article 10 of the 1984 Treaty includes ALL local and Federal law enforcement personal under this Treaty. Because the laws were in effect, the sanctions that can be taken are in effect and the US had the duty to investigate my complaint. Nothing has ever been done in 10 years as the paper has gone round and round.

How the law works here in the US is if my allegations were openly heard and my case proven in a court of law in the US, it would set the precedence for all such violations to not only be prosecuted as civil rights violations in US Courts but as Human Rights violations in a World Court. This "legal trail" of precedence and testimony in the case of the four British citizens is why John Burton wrote "With an outlandish display of convoluted and specious logic" because while there was never a chance of paying damages, as that was covered in the Treaty for non-citizens and not on US soil, the court could not acknowledge that it was covered by the Treaty because to do so would affirm that the Treaty was in force and that all actions in violation of that Treaty would have to be prosecuted. Oh what tangled webs we have allowed to be woven. Deny, deny, deny and hope it all goes away.

If America was held to the Supreme Law of the Land as the Constitution enforces, most of this administration, the law enforcement personnel involved in my case, the case of the woman in Ohio, the lady who died in the Phoenix Airport, the man tazered to death in front of his 12 year old daughter, would all have to face criminal charges in a World Court and if our Courts refused to prosecute, world sanctions, such as those WE have imposed on Countries that WE say are Human Rights violators could be imposed upon us, in effect, crashing our economy into the ground. America knows that on the world stage we have very few friends and the numbers are getting smaller each and every day.

I would suggest that all readers click the links below as these links go far more in depth into the 1984 and 2002 Treaties that I have in this article. You the reader must decide if we as a nation can pick and choose what laws we will obey and ones we will not, but remember, creditability of our word as a nation not only to our own people but to those we must live with on this planet is the only way to peace. Once we elect to violate one law, we have open the doors to violating them all at will and will be despised by the world seeking to eliminate the nation that calls the kettle black. Such is the true State of the Union.


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law of the United_Nations_Convention_Against_Torture
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm
http://rinf.com/alt-news/war-terrorism/gitmo-torture-appeal-rejected/2226/
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/9_a.htm
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/9_b.htm

 

Michael C. Morris has been involved in racing since the age of twelve (12) when he took a summer job working at Terry 's Speed Shop located in Phoenixville PA. With the help of his brother John Morris, they teamed up and joined Razzberry Racing. (more...)
 
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You are obviously living in another time when all ... by Mr M on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:32:24 PM
But I still think that the People of the United St... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:54:06 PM
Will you be willing to shed your own and other'... by Kahnaya Wasahtoha on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 1:18:49 PM
and never let it touch the ground even upon my dem... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 1:46:57 PM
And I say again - good for you. I on the other han... by Mr M on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 3:45:49 PM
We humans are mortal and the price of each of our ... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 8:38:26 PM
All I see here is the Congress stating that they w... by Watching on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 6:58:39 PM
All I see here is the Congress stating that they w... by Watching on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 6:59:36 PM
of the Constitution that states that all treaties ... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 7:05:32 PM
From your comments elsewhere I'd formed the op... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 8:05:19 PM
Thank you for your comments and you are dead on ta... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 9:42:13 PM
is that even though treaties become part of the Su... by Watching on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 8:41:39 PM
is that even though treaties become part of the Su... by Watching on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 8:42:28 PM
and that was in the article...but what was adopted... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 9:43:46 PM
Isn't it remarkable that we are even discussin... by shirley reese on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 7:18:27 PM
I've heard others say Bush said it, and it is ... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 7:42:15 PM
that the mentality of the people in control of thi... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 9:47:21 PM