United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

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Craig Murray reports on the official statement by the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond:

“I reject the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorean embassy.”

These are the cvs of the group (including the ex-chair who started the work).[1] Hammond’s statement that they are lay people and not lawyers is a blatant, a massive, an enormous, a completely astonishing lie. Yet nowhere has the media called him on this lie.

Sètondji Adjovi (Benin, Second Vice-Chair) Adjovi, an academic and practitioner specialising in international criminal procedure and judicial reform, worked at the International Criminal Court and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda before his appointment to the UNWGAD.

Mads Andenas (Norway, Chair and member until mid-2015) Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention until mid-2015. Has previously held positions as Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London. Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo.

José Guevara (Mexico, First Vice-Chair) Guevara is a legal academic and practitioner who focuses on Human Rights Protection and International Criminal Law. Prior to joining the UNWGAD, worked in the NGO sector, Mexico City’s Ombudsman’s office and in government in the area of human rights. Guevara is the recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s New Executives Fund leading the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights.

Seong-Phil Hong (Chair-Rapporteur, Republic of Korea) An expert member of the Asian Council of Jurists of the Asia Pacific Forum and legal academic, Seong-Phil Hong has specialised in the case for reparations regarding Japan’s Enforced Sex Slavery during the Second World War and accountability for human rights violations by the North Korean regime.

Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine) A legal academic and practitioner whose expertise lies in international criminal justice and procedure. Tochilovsky was part of the Preparatory Committee and Commission that drafted the guidelines on criminal procedure for the International Criminal Court.

Leigh Toomey (Australia) An expert in the UN Human Rights system, Toomey has taught at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and has been a UN human rights expert both in the capacity as an NGO representative and as a representative for Australia at the UN General Assembly and Commission for Human Rights.

It is worth noting that the UN decision accords very closely with the minority verdicts of the two dissenting UK Supreme Court judges in the deeply split UK Supreme Court decision on the case. So by calling the UN panel “ridiculous”, Hammond is saying the same of two UK Supreme Court justices.

You will not recall much media coverage of the dissenting verdicts in the UK Supreme Court decision. There was almost none. By contrast, the media are showing an obsessive interest in the dissenting Ukrainian member’s opinion in this UN decision.

Norwegian Professor Mats Andenas, the chair of the Working Group who started the work, has today stated that the UK and US put enormous political pressure on the members of the UN working group, which they had resisted courageously. Can anybody think of a reason why the dissenting Ukrainian member might have been less able to resist enormous pressure from the UK and US governments?[2]


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