The Guardian May 19, 2004


Open letter to Attorney-General on Torture Convention

Dear Mr Ruddock

Could you please explain:

1. The legal basis of Australia's participation in the war on 
Iraq, given that 43 Australian experts in international law and 
human rights legislation issued a declaration on February 26, 
2003 that an invasion of Iraq would be an open breach of 
international law and a crime against humanity, even if it took 
place with the authorisation of the UN Security Council.

2. What are the government's current preparations for the 
possibility that the Howard Government and Australian military 
personnel may be liable for prosecution in the International 
Criminal Court? This was the legal opinion of the experts cited 
above.

3. What is the extent, definition and legal basis of the 
jurisdiction the US exercises in Iraq.

4. What is the extent, definition and legal basis of Australia's 
jurisdiction in Iraq as a member of the Coalition of the Willing.

5. Why the US and only about half the Coalition of the Willing 
have ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT)?

6. What steps the Howard Government is taking to enhance 
ratification of the CAT particularly by our ANZUS ally the US and 
particularly in light of the 1800 photos and video clips showing 
the most appalling torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqi 
prisoners?  The following italicised quotations are from the CAT. 

7. Each State Party shall ensure that education and 
information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully 
included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or 
military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons 
who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of 
any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or 
imprisonment. (Article 10.1)
Has the Howard Government ensured that the education of all 
Australian personnel in the specified categories complies with 
this requirement?

8. Each State Party shall include this prohibition in the 
rules or instructions issued in regard to the duties and 
functions of any such persons. (Article 10.2)
Has the Howard Government ensured compliance with this 
requirement?

9. Each State Party shall keep under systematic review 
interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices as well 
as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons 
subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment in any 
territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any 
cases of torture. (Article 11)
Given that the US, unlike Australia, has not ratified the CAT, 
how can the Howard Government fulfil its legal obligation under 
Article 11? Will the Howard government make it a pre-condition 
that, before Australian military personnel transfer Iraqi 
prisoners to the custody of US military forces, the US ratify the 
CAT?

10. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the 
victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an 
enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the 
means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the 
death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his 
dependents shall be entitled to compensation. (Article 14.1)

11. In what ways is the Howard government implementing this 
requirement?

Yours sincerely

Gareth W R Smith
16 May 2004

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