Mr. Despouy and Mr. Nowak co-authored the February 2006 UN Report on Guantanamo which found that interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense which Mr. Rumsfeld headed at the time, constituted torture and cruel treatment and were a direct violation of the Convention against Torture. In June 2007, in his annual report before the U.N. Human Rights Council, Mr. Despouy requested German authorities to act with the required independence in a similar lawsuit filed against Rumsfeld and others for torture and war crimes before Germany’s Federal Prosecutor.
On Thursday, October 25, 2007, a criminal complaint was filed with the Paris Prosecutor before the “Court of First Instance” charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. Rumsfeld was in Paris on Friday morning for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, and left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.
Rumsfeld’s presence on French territory gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him for having ordered and authorized torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
Despite the fact that the plaintiffs’ attorney in Paris personally informed the Prosecutor in charge of the case a day in advance of Rumsfeld’s presence in Paris on Friday morning, no action was taken by the Prosecutor to serve Rumsfeld with a witness warrant or to prevent him from leaving the territory.
In response to this inaction, an urgent appeal was filed before the two Special Rapporteurs, in which the complainants argue that given the French Prosecutor’s inaction, and the serious risks of Mr. Rumsfeld leaving the territory before being served, Mr. Despouy and Mr. Nowak should request from the French judicial authorities that they act independently from political pressure, and in accordance with France’s obligations under the 1984 Convention against Torture, which is to detain, arrest and prosecute any individual suspected of torture and if they are present on French territory.
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