A Fail Grade for UN Panel

Would the three panelists of the UN working group that found this week in Julian Assange’s favor pass a law exam at any serious law faculty?

Their reasoning is utterly shocking. They fail to note even the UK Supreme Court’s dismissal of his appeal against extradition, a rather reckless attitude to the rule of law and due process by the panel.

As to his current abode at the Ecuadorian embassy, they say this: “Placing individuals in temporary custody in stations, ports and airports or any other facilities where they remain under constant surveillance may not only amount to restrictions to personal freedom of movement, but also constitute a de facto deprivation of liberty.” They fail to note that no authority forced him to take up his current residence.

And then this astonishing statement: “It defeats the purpose and efficiency of justice and the interest of the concerned victims to put this matter of investigation to a state of indefinite procrastination.” Yes, and who was responsible for the procrastination?

The dissenter on the panel, Ukraine’s Vladimir Tochilovsky, deals with the embassy stay thus: “In fact, Mr. Assange fled the bail in June 2012 and since then stays at the premises of the Embassy using them as a safe haven to evade arrest. Indeed, fugitives are often self-confined within the places where they evade arrest and detention. This could be some premises, as in Mr. Assange’s situation, or the territory of the State that does not recognise the arrest warrant. However, these territories and premises of self-confinement cannot be considered as places of detention for the purposes of the mandate of the Working Group.” Quite.

Enduring Assad’s Prisons

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — “She wrestles with demons. The memories of her nine-month imprisonment and the beatings and abuse she suffered at the hands of a Syrian interrogator still burn inside her. Now that she’s in southern Turkey. She works as a journalist under an assumed name. And she prefers living with other women who understand the humiliation she went through. Others, as she knows only too well, suffered worse than she did the harsh regime of Bashar al-Assad’s prisons and secret detention centers…

Rowaida Yousef, as she calls herself, used to be a math teacher and citizen journalist in Damascus…

In Adraa prison Yousef had the opportunity to hear the stories of more than a hundred women. “I heard many accounts of women being raped in Damascus by Shabiha after they had been picked up at checkpoints or at buildings they controlled, and before they were handed over to the security branches,” says Yousef. “But I didn’t hear accounts of rapes in the official security detention centers in Damascus.” The picture is different in Homs and Aleppo, she says.”

You can read my dispatch for the Daily Beast here.

Libya To Make Conflict Rape A War Crime

Interesting piece and a hopeful one from the London Guardian about an upcoming vote in the Libyan General National Congress to make rape carried out during war a war crime. But it might have been useful to put some stronger qualifiers in: the lack of counseling for women (and men) who suffered sexual violence during the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi; the pressure in the past and (have heard by word of mouth) now on women to marry their rapists; and the failure to mention that some rebels were also involved in inflicting sexual violence. The Guardian article is here.

Syria: A Haunting Rape Testimony

Syria

From my latest depressing filing from inside Syria for the Daily Beast:

“She speaks haltingly. Telling the story isn’t easy for the 38-year-old Syrian Sunni Muslim, and she won’t be explicit about the physical details that suggest her friend had been raped before dying….Her story adds to mounting allegations that Syrian forces—most especially the pro-government Shabiha civilian militia, the ultraloyal enforcers of embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime—are using sexual violence and rape to terrify and punish rebels.”

Libya: Two Competing Realities of Women

Tripoli

Will they be heard?

From article in Newsweek/Daily Beast: “At times there are two competing realities in post-Gaddafi Libya. For most ordinary Libyan women, there’s domestic drudgery and subordination to their men. For the more educated, drawn from higher ranks and involved in newly minted nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), there’s hope of change and greater opportunities. The two realities seldom meet…

Another fight will be over changing the judicial code. Currently, there’s no such crime as spousal rape. Activists want to see that changed and want to see the banning of rape victims being prosecuted for adultery or judges coercing rape victims and rapists to marry in order to restore “family honor,” something that condemns a woman to a life of injustice.”