Saturday, November 24, 2007

Torture prosecution as point of comparison

Posted a while back on legal developments in the United States' case against Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor, Jr., in recognition that the defendant's father is former Liberian President Charles Taylor, himself facing "restart" on January 7, 2008, of his war crimes/crimes against humanity trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. (See here for developments last week in the trial of Taylor père.) Notable was the rejection by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of defense objections that 18 U.S.C. § 2340A, the statute that implements U.S. ratification of the Convention Against Torture, was unconstitutionally vague.
While awaiting Emmanuel's trial in Miami, also set to begin early next year, check out this commentary comparing the anti-vagueness arguments that U.S. Department of Justice attorneys made in Emmanuel with the pro-vagueness arguments their superiors've made in the course of the post-9/11 campaign against terrorism (arguments recently echoed, in defense of the testimony of newly inaugurated U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, by former Mary Jo White (above left, a Manhattan-based former U.S. Attorney). Author of the critique is Elizabeth de la Vega (right), whose 20-plus-year career as a federal prosecutor included membership on the Organized Crime Strike Force and heading the San Jose branch of the Office of the U.S. Attorney.

1 comment:

Naomi Roht-Arriaza said...

It might also be instructive to compare the prosecution of Chuckie Taylor to the recent refusal of a French court to investigate Donald Rumsfeld, on a visit there, for torture. Despite the Pinochet case and other precedents, the court held that customary international law gave Rumsfeld permanent immunity even after leaving office for anything done while he was in office.
Thus does the sad legacy of the ICJ's decision in the Arrest warrant case come home to roost. Proving yet again to people all over the world that the US can dish it out but can't take it...