Thailand court approves US extradition of Viktor Bout

An appeals court in Thailand ruled Friday that accused Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout can be extradited to the US to face charges including conspiracy to kill US nationals and conspiracy to provide material support to a proscribe terrorist group. The court’s decision overturned a decision issued by the Bangkok Criminal Court last August, refusing to extradite Bout  on the basis that the accusations made by the US were not cognizable under Thai law. The appeals court ruled that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the group Bout is accused of supporting, is a cognizable terrorist group under Thai law and that Thailand is obligated to honor their extradition treaties with the US. Lawyers for Bout argued that his safety would be in jeopardy in the US and that he would be unable to receive a fair trial. They have also indicated that they will continue fighting Bout’s extradition by filing an appeal with the Thai government. A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice (DOJ), praised the court’s decision:

We are extremely pleased that the Appeals Court in Thailand has granted the extradition of Viktor Bout to the United States on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist organization for use in killing Americans. We have always felt that the facts of the case, the relevant Thai law and the terms of our bilateral extradition treaty clearly supported the extradition of Mr. Bout on these charges.

Political Science academic theses on counterterrorism

Ahrnens, Anette.  Lund University, Sweden; 2007
A Quest for Legitimacy: Debating UN Security Council Rules on Terrorism and Non-proliferation.

Alienated: A Reworking of the Racialization Thesis after September 11th

Using the Qur’an to Justify Terrorist Violence: Analysing Selective Application of the Qur’an in English-Language Militant Islamist Discourse

Berger, Michael Andrew. St Andrews University, U.K.; 2010
How resisting democracies can defeat substate terrorism : formulating a  theoretical framework for strategic coercion against nationalistic substate terrorist organizations.

Berrebi, Claude. Princeton University, U.S.A.; 2004
The causes and consequences of terrorism.

Biggio, Nancy Connors. The University of Alabama, U.S.A.; 2002
The rationality of the use of terrorism by secular and religious groups.

Binodah, Abdullah M. The University of Sheffield, U.K.; 2006
U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the Bush War on Terror : elite opinion and the failure of U.S. strategy.

Boukalas, Christos. Lancaster University, U.K.; 2007

Empire and Reich. War on Terrorism and the Political Metalaxis of the US.

Brannan, David. St. Andrews University, U.K.; 20007

Violence, terrorism and the role of theology : repentant and rebellious Christian identity.

Cockley, David. Texas A&M University, U.S.A: 2009 – The media spectacle of terrorism and response-able literature.

Cunningham, William G. George Mason University, U.S.A.; 2006 – Terrorism and conflict resolution: Theory and practice .

Dalby, Andrew Keith. St Andrews University, U.K.; 2004
European integrationist influences on member states’ counter-terrorist co-operation and co-ordination.

Derin Gure, Pinar. Boston University, U.S.A.; 2009.
Essays in public economics and economics of terrorism.

Dulin, Adam. ISVG; West  Haven ,CT, USA; May 2006
Development as Counterterrorism – An Examination of the Columbian Conflict

Egner, Michael. Pardee RAND Graduate School, U.S.A.; 2009
Between Slogans and Solutions: A Frame-Based Assessment Methodology for Public Diplomacy.

El-Ibiary, Rasha. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.; 2006
Televisual representation of the ‘War on Terror’ : comparative analysis of Al-Jazeera and CNN in covering the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Engene, Jan Oskar. University of Bergen, Norway; 1998
Patterns of terrorism in Western Europe, 1950-1995

Eser, Tarik. ISVG; West  Haven ,CT, USA; December; 2007
The Impact of the Turkish Policies Toward the PKK Terrorist Organization

Flarey, Dominick L. Breyer State University – Kamiah Idaho, U.S.A.; 2003
Terrorist Groups Are Aligning To Conduct Global Terrorism.

Franks, Jason. University of St. Andrews, U.K.; 2005
Rethinking the roots of terrorism: through the doors of perception.

Gatliff, Jason R. Bowling Green State University, U.S.A.; 2006  Terrorism and Just War Tradition: Issues of compatibility.

Ginbar, Yuval. University of Essex, U.K.; 2006
Torture, terrorists and ticking bombs : moral, societal and legal aspects of the ‘ticking bomb’ justification for torture in the struggle against terrorism.

Grevi, Giovanni. Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; 2007
The Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy of the European Union: Ever-Closer Cooperation. Dynamics of Regime Deepening.

Hadjimatheou, Katerina. The University of Essex, U.K.; 2009
Ethnic profiling in counter-terrorism: Justice in practice.

Hale, William Chris. ISVG;  West  Haven ,CT, USA; May 2005
Twenty-first Century Terrorism, Twenty-first  Century Answers – The Why and How of Collection, Analysis, and Dissemination of Open Source Intelligence

Harrison, John. St. Andrews University, U.K.; 2006
The evolution of international aviation security : from politics to warfare.

Jansen, Pia Therese. St. Andrews University, U.K.; 2008
The consequences of Israel’s counter terrorism policy.

Kalidheen, Rufus. University of South Africa, South Africa; 2008
Policing mechanisms to counter terrorist attacks in South Africa.

Kim, Joongho. University of Hawai’i at Manoa, U.S.A.; 2008
The sources of North Korean terrorism: Analyses at three levels.

Kiser, Steve. Pardee RAND Graduate School, U.S.A.; 2005
Financing Terror; An Analysis and Simulation to Affect Al Qaeda’s Financial Infrastructures.

Le Sage, André. University of Cambridge, UK; 2004
Somalia and the war on terrorism: political Islamic movements & US counter-terrorism efforts

Levi, Michael Abraham. King’s College (University of London), U.K.; 2006
Rethinking nuclear terrorism.

Markovic, Vesna. ISVG; West  Haven ,CT, USA; December 2008
Suicide  Bombings and Lethality – A Statistical Analysis of Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

Sproat, Peter Alan. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; 1997
An investigation of the concept of state terrorism .

Colombian president sues Venezuelan counterpart before ICC

Outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, a counsel for Uribe confirmed Friday.

Jaime Granados told reporters at the presidential office that he sent Friday the “corresponding complaint” to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in the hope that “action would be taken.” Uribe wants to testify as a civilian if the ICC wants him to.

Uribe, who leaves office on Saturday, has accused Venezuela of harboring Colombian guerrilla chiefs on its territory, a charge firmly rejected by Caracas. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s office said in a statement that

“Colombia has gone to the channels of international law and will continue insisting on those mechanisms so there is an instrument to make the Venezuelan government comply with its obligations not to harbour Colombian terrorists.”

Heller comments at Opinio Juris:

This is an interesting development, one that raises both substantive and procedural questions.  Substantively, on what basis does Colombia think Chavez is criminally responsible for FARC’s actions?  Soliciting or inducing?  Aiding and abetting?  Contributing to a group crime?  Aiding and abetting seems the most likely, given that Article 25(3)(c) singles out “providing the means” for the commission of a crime.  But that would require proof that Chavez is allowing FARC to set up camps in Venezuela “for the purpose of facilitating” FARC’s crimes — a very high standard.

The procedural questions, however, are even more interesting.  Most important, is this is a self-referral by the Colombian government?  It seems like it has to be — Article 25(3) criminalizes participating in a crime within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and here the relevant crimes have been and are being committed in Colombia, not in Venezuela.  Differently put, Colombia is not accusing Chavez of committing a crime in Venezuela; it is accusing Chavez of committing acts in Venezuela (permitting the camps to exist or perhaps even providing the camps) that make him responsible for crimes committed in Colombia.  So the Colombian government can refer Chavez to the Court only by self-referring the situation in Colombia.

That, of course, raises another question: what counts as a self-referral?

Granados added that another lawsuit was filed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), demanding Venezuela answer for what he called “very serious” violations of human rights by the country.

In the meantime Colombian journalist Felipe Zuleta announced that he plans to take Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to the  International Criminal Court over the army’s extrajudicial killings of  civilians who they then reported as rebels killed in combat, known as  “false positives,” in the town of Soacha, central Colombia. Zuleta made the announcement after a prosecutor sent by the Colombian Supreme Court shelved an investigation into Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos’ alleged responsibility for the Soacha false positives. Santos was Colombian defense minister at the time of the murders.

In an effort to end the conflict, the Colombian government claims it is  turning to transitional justice and with the Justice and Peace Law,  creating accountability and providing reparations for victims. According to one observer.

Yet, upon careful examination of the politics of justice in Colombia, it appears as though the passage of the Justice and Peace Law may be merely an attempt to shield human rights abusers from criminal liability and evade ICC intervention. How the ICC interprets and evaluates the actions of Colombia will determine the application of complementarity and the future of international criminal law. In this paper, I focus on the need for an interpretation of complementarity as found in Article 17 of the Rome Statute, and propose a method of interpreting Article 17 that will reduce states’ exploitation of ambiguities in the Rome Statute. I argue that ICC involvement in Colombia will solidify the tenuous principle of complementarity, and will provide a much needed “guiding principle” to this emerging intersection between domestic and international law. By using Colombia as an example of a state genuinely unwilling to prosecute, the ICC will not only provide justice to Colombians, but it will also reduce the likelihood of mimicry from other states that may follow in the footsteps of Colombia’s impunity if it is allowed to succeed.

Allegations of secret Colombian plan to undermine EU

(EU Observer) A group of MEPs is calling for action as further details of an alleged covert operation conducted by the Colombian intelligence agency (DAS) continue to emerge, with one of its reported aims being to undermine the authority of the European Parliament.

Recently released documents that were confiscated from the DAS by the Colombian Attorney General’s office highlight the nature of “Operation Europe.” Its objective was to “neutralise the influence of the European judicial system, the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” reads one text seen by this website.

Former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe introduced legislation late last year to overhaul the controversial agency, although it has yet to be approved by the country’s legislature.

However, a group of MEPs, primarily from the European Parliament’s Green group, are not satisfied, fearing that the reported campaign of close surveillance and threat-making against Bogota’s critics may simply continue under a different guise, and ask for full police and judicial investigation of the alleged crimes.

The situation is expected to change with Belgium taking over the EU’s rotating presidency on 1st July.

“The Spanish government is very in favour of the free trade agreement with Colombia [initialed in May], and they don’t want anything to jeopardise that,” the Austrian deputy told EUobserver. “But then the Belgians will take over the presidency and they have citizens that have been proven to have suffered phone tapping by the DAS.”

Among the Belgian citizens who claim to have been victims of DAS activities is Paul-Emile Dupret, a Belgian political advisor to the European Parliament’s left-wing United European Left (GUE) group.

“My name is mentioned on the DAS file several times,” he says, believing it to be partially the result of his involvement in the organisation of an anti-Uribe protest in 2004 when the ex-President visited the European Parliament.

Several months after the protest, Mr Dupret was arrested upon landing in the United States. “I was interrogated when I arrived, put in prison for 24 hours, asked dozens of questions about by views on Colombia,” he says. “Since then I have been prevented from returning to the US. They now consider me a terrorist.”

The Belgian citizen is currently working with a group of other victims and a team of lawyers, and plans to present their collective case against the Colombian agency in the Belgian courts this July, the first European citizens to do so.

Certain European NGOs also claim to have been the target of a concerted campaign to discredit their activities and tarnish their reputations.

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions releases report on Colombia

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston released his latest report, which focuses on his last mission to Colombia.

In his report, Alston describes the Colombian Government’s June 2003 Democratic Security Policy, which defined “terrorism” as the central threat to peace in Colombia, together with drug and arms trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and homicide.  Alston reports that this policy sought to “defeat the FARC and ELN and regain territory taken by them; eliminate drug trafficking; demobilize paramilitaries and reintegrate former members into society; and increase security by strengthening, integrating and expanding the armed forces”.

The Rapporteur stresses that at present

“The existence of an armed conflict in Colombia is the subject of some controversy. The Government’s position is that Colombia is not engaged in an armed conflict and that the FARC and ELN are terrorists, not belligerents under IHL. Some officials were concerned that admitting the existence of an armed conflict would signal a failure of Colombian security policies and negate their successes.” Nonetheless, Alston remarks that in many occasions International Humanitarian Law “will apply in the context of military operations against the FARC or ELN”. Moreover, “whether or not IHL applies in the context of actions against other armed non-State actors will also depend on whether the objective criteria are met. Generally, operations against such groups should be undertaken by the police, in accordance with human rights law.”

The UN independent expert reports that a significant number of civilian murders presented as “killed in combat” (so-called “false positives”) have been carried out by security forces. Although it is not proven that these killings were part of a State policy, Alston highlights that they may have occurred under the pressure to show success against guerrillas, accompanied by a system of incentives to kill or provide information on guerrillas, combined with a general failure of accountability.

In this respect, Alston also notes that in some occasions human rights defenders raising concerns about false positives killings, have been accused by Government officials of  undermining security policies and even of terrorism.

“Unfounded accusations of this type put individuals at great risk and are unworthy of a democratic Government. The Government can address the concerns of its critics without recklessly endangering them”, Alston says.

A recent interview with Philip Alston you can read here.

Chiquita sued in US court for aiding Colombian terrorists

(JURIST) Victims of paramilitary violence in Colombia filed suit Wednesday 14 April against Chiquita Banana International [corporate website], which has admitted to funding Marxist rebels in Colombia. In the complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 242 Colombians alleged that they had been seriously injured or had family members killed by the right-wing paramilitary group, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The AUC has been accused of mass killings during the Colombia guerrilla warfare movement before disarmament in 2003. The plaintiffs, who are seeking over $1 billion in damages, brought suit under a 1992 law that allows US citizens to sue for terrorist acts committed by US firms abroad. The complaint alleges that Chiquita aided and abetted in the murders and provided material support and resources to terrorists.

In February, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit accusing Chiquita of assisting Marxist rebels who killed Colombian missionaries may go forward. The suit was brought by family members of five North American missionaries who had worked for the New Tribes Mission (NTM) in South America and were killed in separate incidents between 1995 and 1996. Chiquita admitted it had paid paramilitary group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), for protection of its workers but it argued that it did not condone the killings. In 2007, Chiquita was fined $25 million after it admitted to making payments of around $1.7 million from 1997 to 2004 to FARC and AUC. Following that admission, hundreds of family members of Colombians killed by FARC filed lawsuits in the US against Chiquita under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). In January, Chiquita settled a shareholder lawsuit over the illegal payments.

Colombia criticizes European Court of Human Rights for barring extradition of terrorist suspect over torture concerns in Klein vs. Russia

ECHR Case of Klein v. Russia (Application no. 24268/08, Jdugment of 1 April)

Klein is an Israeli citizen who was sentenced by a Colombian court for “instruction in and teaching of military and terrorist tactics, techniques and methods, committed with mercenaries and accomplices.” An interpol notice was issued, and Klein was arrested in Russia in August 2007. On 29 January 2008 the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia ordered the applicant’s extradition to Colombia. It was mentioned that the acts for which the applicant had been sentenced were punishable under Russian law and corresponded to the crime provided for by Article 205 § 1 of the Russian Criminal Code (“assistance to terrorist activities”).

Klein appealed the decision and contended that he might be subject to ill-treatment. He submitted that recent reports by the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International showed a questionable human rights situation in Colombia and provided

“compelling evidence about overcrowding, insecurity, corruption, and insufficient budget in the prison system and detention conditions, and deadly violence amongst inmates as well as excessive force and brutality by prison guards. Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police, military and prison guards continued to be reported.”

The Colombian authorities had provided written assurances that the applicant would not be subjected to the death penalty or ill-treatment, that he would be punished only for the crime referred to in the extradition request, that he would not be persecuted on the grounds of his race, ethnic origin, religion, nationality or political views and that upon serving his sentence he would be free to leave Colombia and would not be expelled or extradited to a third State without the Russian authorities’ consent.

The Court considered whether “the general political climate in Colombia” could give reasons to assume that the applicant would be subjected to ill-treatment and concluded that “the overall human-rights situation in Colombia is far from perfect”

53.  The main argument raised by the applicant under Article 3 is the danger of ill-treatment in Colombia, exacerbated by the nature of the crime that he had been convicted of. The Court observes in this respect that the Committee Against Torture expressed its concerns that measures adopted or being adopted by Colombia against terrorism and illegal armed groups could encourage the practice of torture (see paragraph 31 above). The Court further notes that the evidence before it demonstrates that problems still persist in Colombia in connection with the ill-treatment of detainees.

54.  Furthermore, turning to the applicant’s personal situation, the Court observes that the applicant fears that he would be singled out as a target of ill-treatment when in Colombia because Vice-President Santos reportedly stated that the applicant should “rot in jail”. It considers that, regrettably, it is unable to assess fully the nature of the statement and the connotations it might have had in the original language, i.e. Spanish, since the applicant has not indicated the source of the information concerning the statement in question. However, it appears that the statement expressing the wish of a high-ranking executive official to have a convicted prisoner “rot in jail” may be regarded as an indication that the person in question runs a serious risk of being subjected to ill-treatment while in detention.

55.  The Court notes that the Government invoked assurances from the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the effect that the applicant would not be subjected to ill-treatment there (see paragraph 16 above). However, the Court observes that the assurances in question were rather vague and lacked precision; hence, it is bound to question their value. The Court also reiterates that diplomatic assurances are not in themselves sufficient to ensure adequate protection against the risk of ill-treatment where reliable sources have reported practices resorted to or tolerated by the authorities which are manifestly contrary to the principles of the Convention (see Saadi, cited above, §§ 147-148).

56.  Lastly, the Court will examine the applicant’s argument that the Russian authorities did not conduct a serious investigation into possible ill-treatment in the receiving country. It notes in this respect that the applicant informed the Russian courts about poor human-rights situation in Colombia referring to the fact that there had been a lengthy internal armed conflict between State forces and paramilitaries and citing the UN General Assembly’s Resolution and the materials of the meeting of the Human Rights Committee (see paragraph 18 above). Furthermore, the applicant brought to the authorities’ attention the fact that the Colombian Vice-President had threatened to have him rot in jail. The Supreme Court of Russia limited its assessment of the alleged individualised risk of ill-treatment deriving from Vice-President Santos’s statement to a mere observation that the Colombian judiciary were independent from the executive branch of power and thus could not be affected by the statement in question (see paragraph 21 above). The Court is therefore unable to conclude that the Russian authorities duly addressed the applicant’s concerns with regard to Article 3 in the domestic extradition proceedings.

57.  The Court finds therefore that, in the particular circumstances of the present case, implementation of the extradition order against the applicant would breach Article 3 of the Convention.

Colombian vice-president Francisco Santos commented upon the decision:

“The court’s decision is a black mark for human rights in the world; it backs impunity for the crimes Mr Klein and his paramilitary students carried out in Colombia and denies truth and justice to their victims,” Vice President Francisco Santos said.

The EU court’s decision “shames humanity, (Klein’s) victims and the cause of human rights,” Santos said in a statement.

He rejected as “false” the court’s concerns that Klein’s rights or physical welfare would be at risk in Colombia.

“The Colombian government… voices its concern over decisions of this kind that show a double standard in dealing with human rights violators: while Colombia is called on to eliminate impunity, (the court) enables impunity for a self-confessed war criminal,” Santos said.