Category Archives: Political

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Recognize International Law? Ask Doc Bonn!

The world community has been concerned about genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes throughout the centuries.  In 2002, a treaty-based court, called the International Criminal Court (ICC), was established in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the prosecution of international war crimes committed on or after that date.

The ICC is the first ever permanent international institution, with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals responsible for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.  The ICC was established by the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, so named because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.  The Rome Statute is an international treaty, binding only on those states which formally express their consent to be bound by its provisions.  Upon ratifying it, these states become formal “Parties” to the Rome Statute.  The Rome Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.  To date, 121 countries, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and China, have become Parties to the Statute.

The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system.  However, the jurisdiction and functioning of the ICC are governed by the Rome Statue, which is a treaty that was initiated by the United Nations.  The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Each of these crimes is clearly defined in the Rome Statute and other relevant texts such as the Geneva Conventions.   The Rome Statute clearly stipulates that acting in an official capacity as a head of state, member of government or parliament or as an elected representative or public official in no way exempts a person from prosecution or criminal responsibility.  Superiors or military commanders may be held responsible for criminal offenses committed by persons under their effective command and control or effective authority and control.

According to the Rome Statute, the specific crimes of war that may be prosecuted by the ICC include:

Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:

1) Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health 2)Torture or inhumane treatment

3) Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property

4) Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power

5) Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial

6) Unlawful deportation, confinement or transfer

7) Taking hostages

 

 The following acts as part of an international conflict:

1) Directing attacks against civilians

2) Directing attacks against humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Killing a surrendered combatant

4) Misusing a flag of truce

5) Settlement of occupied territory

6) Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory

7) Using poison weapons

8) Using civilians as shields

9) Using child soldiers

 

 The following acts as part of a non-international conflict:

1) Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture

2) Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Taking hostages

4) Summary execution

5) Pillage

6) Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy

 

Significantly, the ICC only has jurisdiction over these crimes where they are part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.  Additionally, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes, and due to resource limitations (as it is primarily funded by state parties) it is not in a position to bring to justice every person who has committed crimes of concern to the international community.

The ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal justice systems.  In this regard, the ICC is a court of last resort.  Proceedings before the ICC may be initiated by a state party, the prosecutor or the United Nations Security Council.  It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine; for example, if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility.  Also, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or by one of its nationals.  These conditions, however, do not apply if a situation is referred to the prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, whose resolutions are binding on all U.N. member states, or if a state makes a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Although the U.S. originally voted against the adoption of the Rome Statute, President Bill Clinton unexpectedly reversed his position on December 31, 2000, and signed the treaty but indicated that he would not recommend that his successor, George W. Bush, submit it to the Senate for ratification.  On May 6, 2002, the Bush administration announced that it was nullifying the U.S. signature of the treaty.  The main objections to the ICC offered by the Bush administration were interference with national sovereignty and a fear of politically motivated prosecutions.  President Barack Obama has taken no action to change the U.S. position on the ICC he inherited from G.W. Bush.

The refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC over its citizens places it at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations.  Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority.  The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with the G.W. Bush administration’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.

How does the refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC make you feel?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please submit your comments below or email me directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.  Follow me @DocBonn on Twitter.

Tune in for “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” at high noon ET on Friday, Nov. 9th when Dr. Scott Bonn is joined by Dr. Jonathan Golden, Associate Director of Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict.  Professor Golden is an expert in global conflict and religious studies.  They will discuss international law, terrorism and war crime in the post-9/11 era.  Listen live http://groups.drew.edu/wmnj/

 

Dr. Scott Bonnis Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the possibility of finding hope and redemption behind prison walls.   

 

 

 

 

 

Doc Bonn Says, Julia Davis is an American Hero; We NEED Whistleblowers.

Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc Bonn

Do you know the name Julia Davis?  She is the most important whistleblower you have probably never heard of.  After exposing serious problems in the processing of aliens from suspected terrorist countries, admitted into the U.S. without proper scrutiny, former Customs and Border Protection Officer Julia Davis became a target for the beleaguered agency.

She was falsely branded a Domestic Terrorist, accused of being a convicted murderer, maliciously prosecuted for alleged immigration violations and weapons charges.  Nevertheless, Davis ultimately prevailed over her accusers in the court of law.

The public needs whistleblowers. Why? Whistleblowers keep the system in check by telling the public about alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption.

As Julia Davis found out the hard way, whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under state or federal law.

Unlike U.S. Army whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning, who has received an outpouring of support and has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after being arrested on suspicion of passing classified documents to the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks, the ordeal of Julia Davis has been largely absent from the media and public discourse.  That is about to change.

Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc BonnJulia Davis is now seeking justice in the court of public opinion.  A documentary film “Top Priority: The Terror Within” about Julia Davis is finally breaking through the wall of cover-up and obstruction in the U.S. This incredible but true story exposes whistleblower retaliation of an unprecedented magnitude, unleashed by the Department of Homeland Security against one of its own law enforcement officials.  The film sheds the light on what is perhaps the most suppressed story of a prevailing whistleblower in U.S. history.

The Department of Homeland Security’s best kept secrets will be unveiled with the premiere of “Top Priority: The Terror Within” on May 16th, 2012 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA.

This is an important story and documentary film not to be missed.

Follow Julia Davis News Blog

For additional information about the documentary film “The Terror Within”, please visit the official website:

Official trailer for “The Terror Within” on the Internet Movie Database:
Additional information about Julia Davis and her case:

Dr. Scott Bonn,Mass Deception

 

 

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Criminology at Drew University.  He is an expert in state crime and elite deviance.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.”  Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter or email him directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.

What is the International Criminal Court (ICC)? Ask Doc Bonn

            Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc Bonn

 The world community has been concerned about genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes throughout the centuries.  Finally, in 2002, a treaty-based court, called the International Criminal Court (ICC), was established in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the prosecution of international war crimes committed on or after that date.

 The ICC is the first ever permanent international institution, with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals responsible for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.  The ICC was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, so named because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.  The Rome Statute is an international treaty, binding only on those states which formally express their consent to be bound by its provisions.  Upon ratifying it, these states become formal “Parties” to the Rome Statute.  The Rome Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.  To date, 121 countries, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and China, have become Parties to the Statute.

The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system.  However, the jurisdiction and functioning of the ICC are governed by the Rome Statute, which is a treaty that was initiated by the United Nations.  The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Each of these crimes is clearly defined in the Rome Statute and other relevant texts such as the Geneva Conventions.   The Rome Statute clearly stipulates that acting in an official capacity as a head of state, member of government or parliament or as an elected representative or public official in no way exempts a person from prosecution or criminal responsibility.  Superiors or military commanders may be held responsible for criminal offenses committed by persons under their effective command and control or effective authority and control.

According to the Rome Statute, the specific crimes of war that may be prosecuted by the ICC include:

  1. Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:

1) Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health 2)Torture or inhumane treatment

3) Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property

4) Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power

5) Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial

6) Unlawful deportation, confinement or transfer

7) Taking hostages

  1. The following acts as part of an international conflict:

1) Directing attacks against civilians

2) Directing attacks against humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Killing a surrendered combatant

4) Misusing a flag of truce

5) Settlement of occupied territory

6) Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory

7) Using poison weapons

8) Using civilians as shields

9) Using child soldiers

  1. The following acts as part of a non-international conflict:

1) Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture

2) Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Taking hostages

4) Summary execution

5) Pillage

6) Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy

However, the ICC only has jurisdiction over these crimes where they are part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.  Additionally, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes, and due to resource limitations (as it is primarily funded by state parties) it is not in a position to bring to justice every person who has committed crimes of concern to the international community.

 The ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal justice systems.  In this regard, the ICC is a court of last resort.  Proceedings before the ICC may be initiated by a state party, the prosecutor or the United Nations Security Council.  It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine; for example, if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility.  Also, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or by one of its nationals.  These conditions, however, do not apply if a situation is referred to the prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, whose resolutions are binding on all U.N. member states, or if a state makes a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC.

 Although the U.S. originally voted against the adoption of the Rome Statute, President Bill Clinton unexpectedly reversed his position on December 31, 2000, and signed the treaty but indicated that he would not recommend that his successor, George W. Bush, submit it to the Senate for ratification.  On May 6, 2002, the Bush administration announced that it was nullifying the U.S. signature of the treaty.  The main objections to the ICC offered by the Bush administration were interference with national sovereignty and a fear of politically motivated prosecutions.  President Barack Obama has taken no action to change the U.S. position on the ICC he inherited from G.W. Bush.

The refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC over its citizens places it at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations.  Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority.  The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with the G.W. Bush administration’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.

How does the refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC make you feel?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please submit your comments below or email me directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.  Follow me @DocBonn on Twitter.

  Dr. Scott Bonn,Mass Deception  Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.

Black and Latino: Race to Incarcerate

Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc Bonn

The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million—roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society, however. The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.

The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound.  Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the prison population!  How can this be?  Conventional–that is, uninformed–wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S.  That is simply not the case.  The reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed by the U.S. criminal justice system.

Consider these facts: Blacks alone make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes!  Disturbingly, racial disparity in justice system processing exists for other crimes as well.  The startling statistics reveal that racially biased processing is common throughout the criminal justice system in the U.S.  Perhaps this should not be surprising, however.  After all, one must remember that the police, district attorneys and judges all have tremendous discretion in whom to arrest, prosecute and sentence.

It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced and biased vision unfortunately leads her to differentially target and process many poor Blacks and Latinos.  The result is a prison population that does not fairly or accurately reflect the true picture or color of crime in the U.S.  Let’s put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all citizens.

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq,” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter.

No one is Above International Law. Punish War Criminals!

Mass Deception,War Crimes, Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc Bonn

 

Listen to my discussion with Burl Barer and Howard Lapides on True Crime Uncensored:

If he truly believes in justice for all, President Obama must align the U.S. with the world community in recognizing the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was established under United Nations authority in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands, for the prosecution of the most serious war crimes (i.e., crimes against humanity) in the world.

Despite the fact that 108 nations, including most of Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan recognize the ICC, the United States has criticized the court and has refused to permit the ICC to have jurisdiction over its citizens.  This places the U.S. at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations.  Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority.  The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with George W. Bush’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.

The G.W. Bush administration justified its refusal to recognize the ICC by claiming that the court could be used to pursue politically motivated prosecutions.  In fact, the Bush administration refused to recognize the ICC precisely because the court would make it accountable for illegally invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power.  The Bush administration’s rejection of the ICC in 2002 foreshadowed the actions of individuals who would seek to avoid prosecution for war crimes.  As argued by Michel Foucault, nothing is inherently political.  On the contrary, everything can be politicized.

The Bush administration violated both the Nuremberg Charter and the U.N. Charter and committed war crimes when it launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.  Throughout its two terms, the Bush administration steadfastly maintained that the invasion was justified on the basis of the Bush doctrine of preemptive self-defense.  However, the Bush doctrine went far beyond any reasonable interpretation of preemptive self-defense which would require that an actual attack was certain.  The Bush doctrine was based on a much broader position that the U.S. was entitled to use force to eliminate any possible future threat to its national security, whether or not a threat was objective or imminent.

The Bush administration sought to preserve self-defense protection for invading Iraq under the U.N. Charter by falsely claiming that Iraq possessed WMD and that it was linked to al Qaeda and involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Even if Iraq had possessed WMD as claimed, without an actual attack or an immediate threat to use them against the U.S., there would still have been no justification for invading Iraq under the U.N. Charter.

Also, the killing, torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqi citizens and prisoners, particularly at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, and the wanton destruction of property resulting from the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq constitute war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions.  As a measure of the carnage, the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies places the Iraqi death toll in excess of one million, including several hundred thousand civilians, while countless other have been maimed or injured.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely for several reasons that the Bush administration will ever be charged by the international community for its war crimes.  First, no state has ever voluntarily agreed to subject itself to international prosecution, and President Obama notoriously decided not to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes. Moreover, Obama has perpetuated the war crimes of the Bush administration and initiated his own (e.g., drone launched missile attacks in Pakistan).  Second, unless a referral is made by the U.N. Security Council, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or if they were committed by a state party.  As mentioned above, neither the U.S. nor Iraq recognizes the jurisdiction of the ICC.  Third, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. has the ability to veto any move by the Council to punish its illegal behavior.  Thus, it is unlikely that the Bush administration will ever be charged with war crimes by the ICC in The Hague because it enjoys both political and bureaucratic exemptions from prosecution under international law.

President Obama promised a new, more inclusive U.S. foreign policy—one freed from President Bush’s aggressive and simplistic us-versus-them ideology.  By recognizing the ICC, President Obama can send a powerful signal to the world that the U.S. is not above international law.  Can the U.S. move beyond the hegemonic policies and actions of the Bush administration and make itself, including its leaders, accountable for war crimes?  Yes, and for the sake of humanity it must!


Dr. Scott Bonn,Doc Bonn,Mass DeceptionScott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.”  Order from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081354789X

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