EJIL Analysis

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Prosecutions of US Officials for Torture? Some Issues

Leon Panetta, US President Obama's nominee to be Director of the CIA, stated in his confirmation hearings last Thursday that he believes waterboarding to be torture (see here). This is the third admission in recent weeks by senior US officials (or prospective officials) that the US has tortured some of the persons detained now detained in Guantanamo Bay. Similar statements were made  by Susan Crawford, Convening Authority for the Military Commisions (see here) and by the new Attorney General Eric Holder (see this Youtube clip). These statements have given rise to intense discussions about whether the US is under an obligation to prosecute those CIA officials who participated in the interrogations and higher level administration officials who approved them. It is therefore of particular interest that Leon Panetta stated categorically that the US will not prosecute those CIA officials who had been involved in harsh interrogations (see here). Kevin Jon Heller and Philippe Sands have an excellent exchange at Opinio Juris (see here and here)  pointing out that under Art. 7(1) of the Torture Convention, the  US' obligation is not quite to…

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One step forward, two steps backward: The ICJ interprets Mexico’s Request for Interpretation of Avena and other Mexican Nationals

On 19 January 2009, the International Court of Justice formally declined to interpret its judgment in the Case of Avena and Certain Other Mexican Nationals (Avena), which dealt, as did its “predecessor”, the LaGrand case, with the US non-implementation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Both LaGrand and Avena ended with the clear…

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Sayadi: The Human Rights Committee’s Kadi (or a pretty poor excuse for one…)

In October 2008, the Human Rights Committee decided the Sayadi case (CCPR/C/94/D/1472/2006) regarding UN Security Council terrorist blacklists, and the decision has now been made public (h/t to Bill Schabas, who made available the text of the views). As I will now explain, the Committee regrettably failed to do justice to the many complex issues of international law that…

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The OLC Memoranda on Iraq: Revisiting the Case for War

Yesterday, the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice released some of its secret memoranda to President Bush, several of which are of interest for international lawyers. Two of them deal with questions of IHL, that is the applicability of the Third Geneva Convention to the Taliban, and of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the…

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A Follow-Up on Israel and Gaza

I just wanted to add a few thoughts after Dapo’s excellent post on the Gaza conflict, of which there seems to be no end in sight. First, a word of warning. As Dapo pointed out, talking about these matters without knowing all the facts is truly dangerous. Indeed, it only tends to expose the speaker’s political and ideological…

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