realpolitic have no limits?
real politic have no limits?
By Luc Debieuvre, Special to Gulf News
Can one remain the same if he copies the behaviour of his worst enemies? The answer, as we all know, would be No. Now take the case of the torture issue. Whoever today would support the idea that torture is acceptable, at least under some specific circumstances, would have simply forgotten that human dignity forbids the practice.
This is why the world was deeply shocked when 173 Sunni Iraqi prisoners were found on November 13 in the Jadriyah jail, Baghdad deeply shocked because the prisoners were victims of an "apparently systematic use of torture", to quote Louise Harbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The world was deeply angered as well, because this did not happen under the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain's dark days, but under the "democratic" government of new Iraq.
No free access
At least this dramatic event will shed some light on abuses that have followed the Afghan war, even though nothing new may emerge from the terror machine of Guantanamo Bay prison. Manfred Nowak, UN Special Envoy for Torture, confirmed that UN inspectors would not visit Guantanamo because they were denied free access to the prisoners. But the debate goes on, resulting in former CIA Chief Admiral Stanfield Turner expressing his "embarrassment to see the United States with a vice-president in favour of torture".
It is another reason why what the Washington Post disclosed on November 2 will appear to many as a supreme symbol of hypocrisy. Knowing the conclusions on any debate about torture, it seems US President George W Bush's administration found a way to bypass the question: pass it on to others. According to the newspaper, eight countries helped the CIA to transport, question and finally torture suspected terrorists caught by the US army. Some of them such as Spain and Sweden would have limited themselves to the logistics, sometimes unknowingly; others would simply "house" jails, including the new EU member Poland, which is usually so prompt in telling the rest of Europe how to be "a good European".
We can be confident that the American press will now disclose the whole list of the "CIA jails" abroad. Every one is aware of what goes on in Jordan or Morocco, but the disease, it appears, has spread on a much wider scale.
One country that seems not to care too much about such problems is the Western nations' new darling, Libya. As we know, five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor were given the death sentence in May 2004 on charges they voluntarily injected the Aids virus to 426 Libyan children, a few of whom have died since then. French Professor Luc Montagnier, a co-discoverer of the virus, was a witness and explained that, based on scientific grounds, the nurses could not have been responsible; most likely, the epidemic was due to a lack of hygiene in the Libyan hospitals. His testimony was rejected.
Meanwhile, the American NGO, Human Rights Watch, declared that four of the six suspected people told them they had been tortured, and ladies were raped regularly. They were also made to lie down naked on steel beds, given electric shock and injected with several kinds of venomous liquids to make them confess.
The Supreme Court of Libya was supposed to rule on the first instance's decision last week but postponed the ruling to January 31. The Libyan government meanwhile offered a solution: the prisoners would be released if a sum of $1 million was paid to each family of the affected children an amount equal, incidentally, to what Libya had to pay for being cleared of the Lockerbie case.
While torture and blackmail go on, people suffer and political leaders look the other way. Can some of them please remind their peers that when it comes to human beings, there are limits that cannot be breached?
Luc Debieuvre is a French political analyst and writer on economic issues. He is also a board member of IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques).