On that UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

Speaking of Gitmo…The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak gave an interview to a German television statement in which he apparently ( I don’t speak German) called on the United States government to prosecute former president George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for ordering the torture of detainees at Guantanamo. Via Think Progress.

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

There are two points to make about this. 1) President Ronald Reagan signed the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988 and the United States Senate ratified the treaty in 1990. Under the United States constitution, treaties ratified by the senate carry the force of law. Violations of the treaty would therefore be punishable under American jurisprudence. 2). This is not the most politic thing for Mr. Nowak to say. It puts the incoming administration in the unfortunate position of probably having to issue some sort of statement rebuking the Nowak as one of its first actions at the UN.