Sunday, November 23, 2014

That Spanish torture case

Arturo Maira Rodríguez, a retired Spanish naval captain, has written this op-ed for El Huffington Post concerning the decision not to pursue torture charges arising from a 2004 incident in Iraq in the military justice system:
We must also critically analyze the performance of Military Justice. The facts discussed constitute a "war crime of torture," according to the legal texts of the ICC. The UN Commission on Human Rights has published principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity. Principle 29 (restrictions on the jurisdiction of military courts) provides:
"The jurisdiction of military courts should be limited to specifically military offenses committed by military personnel, excluding violations of human rights, which are the responsibility of the ordinary domestic courts or, where appropriate, in the case of offenses serious under international law, international or internationalized criminal court."
Definition B in the same document lists torture among the serious crimes under international law. Spanish Military Justice should have been blocked in order for the regular courts to know the facts. To do so now, when the regular courts are unable to complete the proceedings because of the statute of limitation is a mockery of citizenship and the rule of law.
Military Justice, created for military discipline, and whose career advancement depends on their chiefs, is not independent of either the command of the Armed Forces or the Government. It makes decisions tailored by command, protecting an alleged discipline that always works only from the top down, and often protects the excesses of the upper ranks from the just claims of lower ranking personnel, and ignores, as in the case before us shows, the standards and recommendations of international treaties and the UN. Military Justice must be suppressed for the sake of a single jurisdiction for all Spaniards. The most advanced countries in Europe in this regard, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway and Denmark, have transformed their systems, incorporating military jurisdiction within the ordinary courts and allocating jurisdiction to specialized chambers.
The dignity of our country and the protection of victims of torture are at stake and require closing the road to impunity. [Rough Google translation]

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