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Friday, March 20, 2009

War Crimes Press Conference Today

Today, from 3:15 to 4:15 PM (Eastern Time) Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights will speak at a special session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. His remarks can be views at www.oas.org/OASpage/Live.
Ratner will put forward a three point plan.

• Issue official recommendations to the United States to engage in criminal investigations and prosecutions for torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
• Reform laws that prevent the victims of U.S. policies from learning the truth about these abuses; and
• Make reparation s to victims of human rights abuses committed by the U.S. government.

The word “victims” and the field of “victimology” have changed and grown in recent legal and historical scholarship. As a sub-field of legal history there are interesting and important debates about the elevation and deployment of this construct. Some French jurists have argued that the focus on victims can result in a perversion of criminal law and justice. They argue that the creation of specialized “Victim Judges” has undermined, twisted and perverted everyday criminal trials and reintroduced pre-revolutionary interpersonal vengeance into court proceedings.

It is important to note that the CCR proposal DOES NOT fall into such a trap. The ability of those who have been tortured to publicly confirm what they already know to be true is crucial for personal healing. Moreover, the process will enable each person to speak to us all and empower their voices in ways that will sustain a healing process. In many ways, the opportunity for on-going psychic reparation will be far more important than cash compensations that can never be commensurate with the damages and losses suffered by the human beings who have been abused.

When HAW was founded in 2003 we said, “We deplore the secrecy, deception, and distortion of history involved in the administration's conduct of a war that violates international law, intensifies attacks on civil liberties, and reaches toward domination of the Middle East and its resources.” The CCR initiative and approach offer us the best strategy to accomplish our goals and help create a historical record that “connects the dots” in our founding statement.

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