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Rummy on the Run

rummy.jpgOn Friday Donald Rumsfeld arrived in France to give a speech – but he had to leave via a back door that went directly into the US Embassy and then quickly scampered out of the country. Why? He was afraid French prosecutors would act on an indictment brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and several other NGOs.

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture – and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court – it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

While Rumsfeld had apparently gotten out of France before an arrest, the case can be prosecuted since he was in the country when it was filed. As Larry Johnson notes:

One thing is certain, Rummy is now part of an exclusive but growing club of Amcits who face legal peril in foreign lands because they participated (allegedly) in some kind of torture, disappearance, or other violation of international human rights. That means he won’t be going on any foreign junkets. Once outside the safe confines of the United States he can be snatched up and hauled off to France to face questioning.

You can listen to an interview with the attorney’s bringing the charge at Democracy Now and follow the case at the site for the International Federation for Human Rights. CCR is asking everyone to fax or call the French prosecutors and ask them to bring Rummy to justice – please take a minute to do so.

While Rumsfeld was playing hide and seek with French law, children in Iraq are not playing at all – in fact, this week the UN news service IRIN reported that children are being held in Iraqi prisons – and they too are being tortured:

“Children are being treated as adults in Iraqi prisons and our investigations have shown that they are being abused and tortured,” said Khalid Rabia’a, a spokesman for the Prisoners’ Association for Justice (PAJ).

“Our investigation started after families brought their five sons to our organisation looking for psychological help for their children who were recently released from prison, and what we found out was shocking,” Rabia’a added.

“The five children showed signs of torture all over their bodies. Three had marks of cigarettes burns over their legs and one couldn’t speak as the shock sessions affected his conversation,” Rabia’a said. “It is against international law that protects children and we call for interventions in all Iraqi prisons to save the lives of these children.”

However, another senior official from the ministry, who requested anonymity and who has been supplying the NGO with daily updates, told IRIN that every Iraqi prison is holding at least 20 children and they are all suffering abuse.

Rabia’a said the NGO had informants in many Iraqi prisons but since they did not want to be named, they could not go to court and prove the abuses were taking place.

At least 220 children are believed to be held in Iraqi prisons. IRIN requested permission to visit the prisons said to be holding child prisoners but the request was denied.

Along with ongoing coverage of this horror, GorillasGuides has links to a new and important book, Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond scheduled for publication in early November.

Our country’s use of torture – in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and hidden secret rendition sites has given the lie to claims that we wanted to save the Iraqi people from the crimes of Saddam. It is vital that we join Michael Ratner of the CCR in calling for international prosecutions of those responsible:

“We will only stop once the American authorities involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Donald Rumsfeld must understand that he has nowhere to hide. A torturer is an enemy of humanity.”

Image from the International Federation for Human Rights.

UPDATE: Several firepups suggested calling French Consulates in the US to urge prosecution of Rummy. A full list can be found here.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com