Govt simply ignoring obligations after UN rep condemns ‘psychological torture’ of Assange

Asked whether govt will carry out obligatory investigation, MoJ responds by sending ‘factsheet’ – which makes no reference to question

On New Year’s Eve Nils Melzer, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, went onto social media to publish his October letter to the UK government and his conclusions that the UK had participated in subjecting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to “psychological torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”:

But Melzer’s findings are not merely advisory – they trigger an obligation on the UK government under the UN’s convention on torture, as Melzer was careful to point out:

But two and a half months after Melzer wrote to the Tory government with his report, it appears that the government has not made any move to fulfil its treaty obligations – and has no intention of doing so.

The SKWAWKBOX called the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which is responsible for the Assange situation, to ask whether the government had taken any steps to act on Melzer’s call or even had any statement about it after he published it on social media.

In response, the MOJ sent this response by email:

Thank you for your query, please see a link to our factsheet on the extradition process below.

Julian Assange statement and extradition factsheet

However, the ‘factsheet’ – which refers specifically to the Assange case but generic in content – makes no reference whatever to Melzer’s findings, let alone to his call for the UK to carry out the investigation it is legally obliged to conduct. In fact, it is nine months old, published months before Melzer sent his letter and called on the UK to carry out its obligations:

At the conclusion of his thread on his findings, Melzer spells out the consequences for Assange and British justice of the grim reality he encountered:

From the MOJ’s email, it seems that the UK government’s response to Melzer’s findings and call is simply to pretend they never happened. Whatever your opinion of Julian Assange, the UK government should not simply be disregarding its obligations as a United Nations member.

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  1. This is an important point to make and would wisely be taken on board by labour leadership candidates who would like to lead our party to victory in a future GE:
    Traditional labour voters who exist outside the Westminster wine bar bubble do not give a fuck about Julian Assange.

    1. “Westminster wine bar bubble” suggests you think those outside it are right to “not give a fuck about Julian Assange.”
      If that is indeed the point you’re struggling to make – you’re a fucking idiot.
      Google “first they came for”

      1. For heavens sake. Of course people care even if he were an ordinary soul, they disapprove of his treatment. He has support in my family and friends up here in North Yorkshire. You are better than that. Regards.

      2. alexanderscottish, if your comment is directed at me because you thought I accepted Plain citizen’s evidence-free assumption about the attitudes of “traditional Labour voters” – I didn’t.
        When people say “THIS is what REAL people think” they’re expressing either the views of a limited number of contacts, something they’ve read or heard, poll results etc. or, very often, their own opinion which they attribute to unnamed “others” to avoid criticism of themselves.
        My default assumption is that Labour supporters are decent people and therefore – they care.

    2. If the immediate interests and attention span of the lumpen part of the electorate were the only concern of the Labour Party, we’d be the Tory Party. They’re quite good at winning elections by nurturing simple mindedness.

    3. Plain citizen is plain stupid,but that comes as no surprise to those of us who have seen your previous “contributions here.

    4. Starmer particularly should be taking note as he was DPP when CPS sent emails to Sweden asking Sweden not to drop investigations into Assange ( because of lack of evidence) and not to interview Assange in London.

  2. I fear for Assange now that the country has opted for kissing Trump’s bum (the short definition of Brexit).

  3. Their are ways of breaking a person’s ability to function using the lighting,in the cell,cold and sleep deprivation and withdrawal of time.till you dont know whether it is day or night.You are woken up every hour on the hour for 3or 4days…you are unable to consult with lawyers despite thinking its your dont know who the people are who come in your cell and scream at you..You try counting the length and width of your cell and you slowly start to hallucinate and you see water and fish swimming round your feet,but its not real and you worry because you don’t want them the guards to realise that in 4 days you have been reduced to a lunatic who sees fish and your dead relatives and thats what happens in Britain today and in the past and theirs nobody to listen or care and that was just 4 days for me and Julian has suffered for years and this is Britain and I know what can be done to people who are not criminal and are fighting for a cause.And some people do care and some are just evil.

    1. Unfortunately, we have a history or the use of torture. As anyone across the water. Best wishes.

  4. It’s regrettable that the judiciary isn’t proactive in the UK. The inquisitorial system in France and some other EU countries allows for examining magistrates, which the English adversarial system doesn’t.
    Here the judiciary can only speak to cases brought before them I believe, so activists like Gina Miller have to start the ball rolling.
    The judiciary should be able to challenge governmental abuse of the law unasked.
    Yes, judges tend to be tories but the law to them isn’t something to be ignored, sidestepped, misquoted or abused – unlike every other tory they take pride in their judgements being based on fact and not propaganda.

    1. “judges tend to be tories”

      So they have a strong empathy with the “Labour Heartlands”? 🙂

      (Actually, I’m not sure that the assumption is true or that simple – the Tories don’t seem to think so with their animosity towards the judiciary, and people like Brenda Hale give Boris the squits more than most of the PLP)

      1. Tories with a t, ie members of the establishment.
        Nobody mentioned Labour Heartlands.
        Tory animosity towards the judiciary arises when the nod & wink shoe-in they expect from their ‘natural allies’ is withheld.
        The fact that Brenda Hale is not unique among judges in holding the government to the law was the whole point of my comment.
        If Isaac & Hilsenrath had been judges instead of (I assume) typical money-grubbing spin-it-out lawyers the EHRC would have taken pains to report on Corbyn and Labour’s innocence long before the election instead of dragging their heels like lawyers.

      2. I take your general point, David about the legal profession belonging in general to the well-favoured part of society.

        But I was kicking against the assumption that political views at an individual level simply align with social position. Thus the ironic comment about ‘Labour Heartlands’.

        Whilst they may not be paid-up members of Labour, there have been significant members of the judiciary who have been instinctively a long way from being Tory, beyond the constraints of the occupation.

        It’s not a trivial point – I get concerned about general antagonism towards the judiciary expressed by some (I know this doesn’t apply to you) on the grounds that the restraint placed on politicians is in itself political. It’s an incredibly short-sighted and naive view.

        As to the EHRC – I reckon that quasi-judicial bodies can be a useful extension. But this ‘investigation’ should never have been initiated in its present form with the clear political motivations behind the ‘complaints’, and the whole thing was compromised by the pre-judgment of Hildenrath. The rigour is far less than would be expected of any local authority exercising quasi-judicial powers.

        If there had been a general investigation of the handling of prejudice by political parties, I could have lived with that – but this rush to proceed stank. The outcome will be interesting – and will be, in fact, more crucial for the credibility of the EHRC than for the Labour Party.

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