Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Circumvention (by proxy)

Illegal activities conducted through third parties or in places not subject to national or international law.
Governments have always abused the law, of course, as Moise Finkelbaum points out in his seminal study of the phenomenon33. Circumvention by proxy, however, came into its own in the early years of the second millennium when the United States - enthusiastically supported by Great Britain - established offshore concentration camps in places beyond any legal jurisdiction so as to be able to abuse prisoners at will and detain them indefinitely without trial. Both countries also acquired the habit of quietly sending detainees off to be tortured by nasty regimes in distant parts of the world.
But to what purpose? Finkelbaum provides a credible answer. “No one considers information obtained under torture as in the least reliable,” he writes, “Truth is not the aim. What matters is to obtain confessions or simply to fabricate evidence that can be used to convince people back home that their lives are in permanent and irremediable danger, that repressive methods are necessary for their protection, that they too must accept injustice, suspension of democratic rights and limits on their freedom, and that their best hope of safety and security lies in this government and this party and no other.”34

33 Power, Principle and the Law, São Paulo 2111.
34 Finkelbaum, op.cit. pp 214-5.

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