Thursday, December 08, 2005

The US and torture

There has been a lot going around about Condi touring Europe 'clarifying US policy'.

Apparently, the UN Convention on Torture now applies to the US military, whether operating in the US or elsewhere. This is a matter of 'policy' because the CAT is not a 'self-executing treaty' at US law.

To be frank, this really pisses me off. Australia has a similar system whereby international law, including customary international law, is not incorporated into domestic law until done so by legislation. Some treaties in the US are self-executing, which means they do not require Congressional and Senate approval before becoming binding domestic law.

To hide behind a system like this is rubbish. You do not 'choose' whether to activate a 'policy' of banning your Executive officials, employees and contractors from torturing alien or domestic persons. This prohibition is so strong at international law it is not just customary, it is ius cogens. I think I have discussed this before, but torture is a norm of law which simply cannot be breached. It is not up to governments to decide whether this law applies to them or not.

This, of course, is a purely legal discussion. I can't even stand to go into the moral and geopolitical implications of the Executive branch of the sole superpower not being forthright and clear in its abhorrence of such a disgusting way to behave.

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