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International Law - war on terrorism - Essay Example

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International Law - war on terrorism

Second, the role of the Italian government in the transfer of the prisoners. Third, the role of the Italian prosecutors in indicting members of its own government and fourth, the degree to which the United States should acquiesce to the Italian prosecutors and turn over the CIA agents for trial.
Dealing with the first section, it should initially be stated that the United States does have a duty to obey international law and treaties that it is a signatory to (Shaw, 2003). The fact that the United States is seen as the world's only super-power with supposedly overwhelming power (although the current Iraq debacle would put this in a problematic light) does not imply that it should ignore international laws because it can. Indeed, the very idea of "international law" was created in order to stop countries from doing what they wanted to when they had the power to do so - the prime examples being Germany and Japan during WWII. The more powerful the country, the more it should be seen to adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the law. It is with this background that the role of the United States should be seen.
The United States is a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948. This may be seen as the overarching "treaty" (even though it is not officially one) under which international agreements under human rights have been signed and enforced since this time. The Declaration is quite specific on a number of matters that directly relate to the case of the radical Muslim cleric, most notably article 3, which states that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person", Article 5, which states that "no-one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and Article 6, which states that "everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law" (UN, 1948).
It seems quite clear that the kidnapping of a prisoner and his transport to a country where the CIA knows that he is going to be tortured by the authorities, and indeed, the fact that he is specifically being transferred to that country in order to be tortured is a contravention of the Declaration that was signed in 1948. The United States has, more specifically, signed the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (UNICAT), which came into effect in 1987. The definition of torture according to the Convention is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from or a third person information or a confession" (United Nations, 1987).
The question which arises in cases such as the one here is whether the movement of a person from one jurisdiction to another, commonly known as "rendition" within the law (Higgins, 2000). Rendition has normally occurred, at least until recently, through legal channels such as extradition, which occurs between countries or from state to state within a single country that has a federal system. The problem that appears with so-called "extraordinary rendition", which occurs without any visible legal ...Show more

Summary

The sp-called "war on terrorism" has raised new questions as to the extent to which countries must adhere to their treaty agreements, convention signings and general principles of lawful practice. A number of countries, including the United States, have claimed the right to essentially rewrite their treaty obligations and even their own laws under, in the case of the US, the guise of "executive authority" in time of war…
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International Law - war on terrorism essay example
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