Friday, June 1, 2012

Another day at the office for DND

Palais Wilson, Geneva HQ for the
  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;
formerly for the League of Nations

Turkeys are coming home to roost. The United Nations Committee against Torture (the "treaty body") of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, charged with monitoring State Parties adherence to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (that Canada signed up for) has issued a report on Canada.  Who knew?  Us?

In case anybody thinks this is some flaky group of Third World Rabble making frivolous and vexatious allegations about a serious civilized nation like Canada, the current members are listed on the Committee's site, as are the CV's.

These include the Vice-Chair, Felice Gaer of the United States, whose partial CV looks like this:

1983-present: Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights American Jewish Committee, Director

1991-1992: United Nations Association of the United States of America, Executive Director, European Programmes

1982-1991: International League for Human Rights, Executive Director

1974-1981: The Ford Foundation, Programme Officer International Division (1976-1981); Assistant Programme Officer (1974-1976); Member, Public Policy Committee (1976-1981)

Other service
- International Human Rights Council, the Carter Centre, Emory University, 1994-present
- Chair, Steering Committee, National Coalition on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1997-1999
- Board of Directors, Andrei Sakharov Foundation, 1993-present
- Steering Committee, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, 1996-present
- Founding member, Washington Working Group on the Human Rights of Women, 1994-present
- Vice-President and Board of Governors, International League for Human Rights, 1991-present
- President, International Friends of the Chilean Human Rights Commission, 1985-1990
- Committee on Human Rights, New York Academy of Sciences, 1982-1992
- Board of Directors, International Dispute Resolution Associates, 1995-present
- Advisory Panel on Ethnic Conflict, Minority and Individual Rights, The Atlantic Council, 1993-1995
- Advisory Board, Early Warning, Minorities and Conflict Resolution Project -Minority Rights Group, United States of America, 1994-1997
- Council on Foreign Relations, 1991-present
- Alumnae Achievement Award, Wellesley College, 1995
- Advisory Panel on Housing Rights, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat II), New York, January 1996
- Consultant, The Rockefeller Foundation, 1982-1983

Public member of United States delegation to:
- World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, June 1993
- Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, September 1995
- Preparatory Committee, Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), February 1996
- Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, 1994-1999

Excerpts from the report:


1.      The Committee against Torture considered the sixth periodic report of Canada (CAT/C/CAN/6) at its 1076th and 1079th meetings, held on 21 and 22  May 2012 (CAT/C/SR.1076 and 1079), and adopted the following concluding observations at its 1087th and 1088th meetings (CAT/C/SR.1087 and 1088).

 A.      Introduction

2.      The Committee welcomes the submission of the sixth periodic report by the State party, which broadly comply with the guidelines on the form and content of periodic reports, but regrets that it was submitted three years late.

3.      The Committee welcomes the open dialogue with the inter-ministerial delegation of the State party as well as its efforts to provide comprehensive responses to issues raised by Committee members during the dialogue. The Committee further commends the State party for the detailed written replies to the list of issues, which was however submitted three months late, just before the dialogue. Such delay prevented the Committee from conducting a careful analysis of the information provided by the State party.

4.      The Committee is aware that the State party has a federal structure, but recalls that Canada is a single State under international law and has the obligation to implement the Convention in full at the domestic level.


10.      The Committee regrets the State party’s failure to comply in every instance with the Committee’s decisions under article 22 of the Convention and requests for interim measures of protection, particularly in cases involving deportation and extradition (with reference to communications Nos. 258/2004, Mostafa Dadar v. Canada and 297/2006, Bachan Singh Sogi v. Canada), might undermine its commitment to the Convention. The Committee recalls that the State party, by ratifying the Convention and voluntarily accepting the Committee’s competence under article 22, undertook to cooperate with the Committee in good faith in applying and giving full effect to the procedure of individual complaints established thereunder. Consequently the Committee considers that, by deporting complainants despite the Committee’s decisions or requests for interim measures, the State party has committed a breach of its obligations under articles 3 and 22 of the Convention.  (arts. 3 and 22)

The State party should fully cooperate with the Committee, in particular by respecting in every instance its decisions and requests for interim measures. The Committee recommends the State party to review its policy in this respect, by considering requests for interim measures in good faith and in accordance with its obligations under articles 3 and 22 of the Convention.

11.      While noting the State party’s statement that the Canadian Forces assessed the risk of torture or ill-treatment before transferring a detainee into Afghan custody (CAT/C/CAN/Q/6/Add.1, para. 155), the Committee is concerned about several reports that some prisoners transferred by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan into the custody of other countries have experienced torture and ill-treatment. (art. 3) 

The State party should adopt a policy for future military operations which clearly prohibits the prisoner transfers to another country when there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture, and recognizes that diplomatic assurances and monitoring arrangements will not be relied upon to justify transfers when such substantial risk of torture exists

[emphasis added]

People at DND knew what was going on.