Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rendition Considered "Outsourcing"

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was detained at Kennedy Airport in 2002 and questioned for ten months in Syria under suspicion of Al Qaeda ties. Last Friday, in a lawsuit appeal, a New York federal appeals court justice characterized Arar’s rendition as “outsourcing.” Arar maintained that he was tortured in Syria and forced to issue a false confession before he was finally released in 2003. Canadian authorities apologized to Arar and paid millions of dollars in damages to him for falsely informing the U.S. that he was a suspected terrorist. However, Arar’s original lawsuit against U.S. authorities was thrown out of court because the court would not decide a case involving national security.

The case is controversial for a multitude of reasons. First, it raises the question of the human rights issues associated with the questioning techniques utilized by U.S. authorities on Mr. Arar in Syria. Also, how does the fact that Arar was not a U.S. citizen, but a Canadian citizen, factor into the case? A Justice Department lawyer stated that the Constitution is not applicable in Arar’s case because his torture took place in a foreign country and because he was not a U.S. citizen. What role does state sovereignty play when a country violates the human rights of a citizen of another nation? The appeals court is still in the process of deciding Arar’s lawsuit appeal, a decision that will have ramifications on a universal scale.


Dr. D said...

For another perspective on torture, see the linked article on torture by respected human rights theorist, Alison Brysk

pud2you said...

The way I see it, Arar’s citizenship should not factors into this case. Whether belongs to the United States or elsewhere, they are a human being regardless. By definition, they are guaranteed certain human rights like the freedom from torture which have been violated in Arar’s case.

Likewise, the location where the torture takes place should also not be an issue. Regardless of where he is located, he is a human nonetheless. One does not cease to be human when they cross a border into a different territory, therefore one’s human rights should be applied wherever they are.

If American officials were responsible for detaining and torturing Mr. Arar, especially when he was not even a real threat to safety, I believe America should take responsibility for their participation in violating his rights. Accepting the appeal to the dismissal of the civil case is the least of what the US should do in order to rectify it’s injustice.

Andrew said...

I completely agree with pud2you, however, due to state sovereignty and the international power of the US, there are very few ways to force our government to take responsibility. While this is definitely a case where the ICC could step in by I do not believe that they will. I also think that the major issue with torture in this country is that many people believe that what our government is doing is justified. I hope, that in the near future cases like those of Mr. Arar will cease to occur, but I just do not see a way for it to happen.

smg22 said...

Pud2you, I agree that Mr. Arar's case demonstrates torture that clearly violates his fundamental human rights and that the United States, as perpetrator, should be held responsible. However, I also agree with Andrew that state sovereignty makes that difficult. The ICC would be able to make the United States bear the responsibility for its misdeeds, except that it too has no authority in this country because our leaders neglected to recognize its legitimacy, presumably for fear of such prosecution.

pud2you said...

Andrew, you are absolutely right, this would be an appropriate case for ICC involvement. However the ICC has no power of jurisdiction in the United States so as smg22 said, nothing could really be accomplished. Here is just another example of the moral consequences faced by not joining the ICC.

Lukovica said...

ICC was established to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. So, I am not sure if this case would be “this would be an appropriate case for ICC involvement”. However, while we are on the topic of ICC, I want to note that I find it somewhat ironic that many Americans (at least my American friends in DC) do not know that US is not actually a party to ICC and, moreover, that US Congress has passed a lovely law, American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which protects American military personnel or government officials from prosecution by ICC.
And for those of you who are not servicemen or diplomats, but who still would prefer to be extradited to US if you commit crimes against humanity abroad, there is still hope: google: Article 98 agreements and see why US is coercing countries around the world into signing them.
“Here is just another example of the moral consequences faced by not joining the ICC.” I am not sure what is meant by “moral” consequences, but the obvious consequences are that US cannot be prosecuted by ICC for any kind of war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity.
It seems that “some are really “more equal than others”: some can be brought to court and tried for war crimes, but not others. But why would America want to be judged by a different set of standards?

Nicaragua 1984. In today’s world even this symbolic victory would not be possible.

p.s. I am not sure if there exists a more comprehensive list, but that’s what I found when I searched for the treaties that US has and hasn’t ratified.