Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Julian Assange a victim of torture: Australian government just let it happen

UN rapporteur on torture: Julian Assange subjected to psychological torture

Assange a victim of torture and Australia shares blame, says UN expert, The Age, By Nick Miller
May 31, 2019 London: Julian Assange has been subjected to intense psychological torture comparable to some of the gravest cases from “interrogation prisons” around the world, a United Nations expert says.He accuses the UK, US and Sweden of a “consistent failure” to protect Assange’s human rights – and Australia of a “glaring absence” where it should be helping one of its citizens…..

Nils Melzer, a Geneva-based former Red Cross lawyer and human rights expert who is now the UN special rapporteur on torture, spent four hours with Assange in Belmarsh in early May, assessing his psychological and mental state along with two medical specialists.

In a currently confidential report submitted to the British government on Monday, along with letters to the US, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments, Melzer concluded Assange “shows all the symptoms of someone exposed to prolonged psychological ill-treatment”.

“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” Melzer said. “Mr Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity.”

Melzer said the ill treatment was a combination of the way Assange was confined, isolated and persecuted while inside the Ecuadorean embassy, especially in his last year there, along with death threats and public accusations, the prosecutions pursued against him and the public statements made by US government officials as to how he should be dealt with.

Torture did not just include active efforts, but also covers a situation where a State is “aware your behaviour will have these consequences and not doing anything about it”, Melzer said.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Melzer told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that in his work with the UN and before in the field with the Red Cross he had seen people in rendition for interrogation after 9/11, and prisoners of war who had been ill-treated on a daily basis.

“But [Assange] is really something I’ve never seen in 20 years,” Melzer said. “I’ve seen atrocities in war areas that were physically more horrible but I’ve never seen a single person pursued so relentlessly and with so little foundation.

“[When I saw him] I immediately compared him to some of the graver cases in interrogation prisons in terms of his psychological reaction patterns. That’s what alarmed me so much.”

He said Assange’s treatment was “very close to the intentional, purposeful infliction of coercive measures to try to break him”.

Melzer said his visit on May 9 involved a three-hour psychological and physical assessment based on the “Istanbul Protocol”, a standard manual for assessing torture victims around the world.

The assessment took place before WikiLeaks revealed, on Wednesday, that Assange had been moved to a prison hospital having “dramatically lost weight” and in such a state that “it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him”…….

Assange, unlike other prisoners, was exposed to multiple major pending legal proceedings with “so much political commotion”, and was not being given enough time to talk to his lawyers and get updates on his case. ……

Melzer said he had seen no sign of Australian assistance for Assange.

“Australia is a glaring absence in this case. They’re just not around, as if Assange was not an Australian citizen. That is not the correct way of dealing with that.”…..

After it was reported Assange had been taken to the hospital prison this week, the Australian government again got in contact with the prison to check on him.

“We are confident that Mr Assange is being treated appropriately in Belmarsh Prison. Mr Assange has advised us that he is being treated the same as other prisoners in Belmarsh,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to visit Mr Assange in prison, monitor and advocate for his health, welfare and equitable treatment, and closely follow his legal proceedings.”  https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/assange-a-victim-of-torture-and-australia-shares-blame-says-un-expert-20190531-p51t1v.html

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June 1, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international

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