A link to the YouTube recording is attached without comment.
Oral argument was heard by the Second District Court of Appeals, 15-455, Plaintiff being represented by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The US Assistant District Attorney in the Southern District of New York representing the US Government as amicus. The United Nations itself not entering an appearance, having asserted immunity under the 1946 Convention.
A link to the YouTube recording is attached without comment.
Thankfully, there are still hordes of law graduates who look at the UN, despite its obvious flaws and shortcomings, and want to join and serve humanity. Blessed be all of you, young and old, who can see beyond personal injury practice or Wall Street corporate law practice. As a lawyer. the UN can give you some of the greatest professional challenges imaginable; it can be a very exciting lifestyle; and it is not for everybody and need not be forever. Yet, desperate the challenges (UN-euphemism for "it can be extremely painful to work for"), I can honestly say that on balance, the 15 years I have spent with the Organization have been extremely rewarding. I can only encourage legal practitioners to join.
So, how do you become a legal officer for the Secretary-General of the United Nations? It was probably easier in some respects in days gone by when nepotism was the natural way of things. Then, networking, who you knew, from the USG of the Office of Legal Affairs to the legal administrative assistant who could place your CV at the top or bottom of the pile was an essential tool. This is not to say that networking is no longer part of the process, but it has become increasingly bureaucratized, formal, and process-oriented. That is to say, it is more meritocracy than nepotism; more transparent, and consequently not so efficient and recruitments are long-winded.
Your first decision may need to be to decide what type of lawyer do you want to be in the UN. There are a number of opportunities for law graduates in an organization with a multitude of functions and localities, and consequently there are a variety of ways in. I may go deeper into the options in another post, but I am going to keep this simple for the time being and give basic guidance without which you will have no chance at all.
Assuming you want to be a lawyer in the sense that it is generally understood in private or government legal practice, in the UN it means that you want to become a "Legal Officer". There are other UN occupational groups that welcome people with law degrees, and lets not forget that the UN is primarily a political organization, but here I am restricting myself to the standard Legal Officer, where you will be a lawyer for the UN in the strictest sense of the word, and for the time being I will leave out other positions where law is welcomed but is not essential. I will leave out Human Rights, Protection Officers, and Conduct & Discipline, for no other reason than they have their own peculiarities and modus operandi. I am also leaving out entry mechanisms for the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, and concentrate on the UN Secretariat.
First of all we will test your patience and cool-head approach by imposing on you what must be one of the most time consuming and user-unfriendly interfaces ever devised by IT geeks. INSPIRA is what is called, and it was Inspired by an evil mind with masochistic tendencies, and its implementation was the product of UN procurement practices where the nominal principle of "best value for the Organization" is still yet to be defined in a way that Procurement understands other than in terms of 'cheapest available'. Nonetheless, the interface is infinitely better than when it was first introduced 10 years ago. It has been fine-tuned where it now performs additional Human Resources functions in a more holistic approach, and it has improved significantly. Just the same, it will test your IT skills and your patience.
So your first step is to access INSPIRA. First of all, if you find yourself at at www.un.jobs.org, then you are looking at the wrong site. That is the site for the UN Galaxy System which ruled the Web in the days before INSPIRA. For reasons I can't explain, the GALAXY site remains live, and you will even see some vacancy announcements posted, but when you click on the different occupational groups you will notice they are all red-marked as CANCELLED. Don't expect the, ever to become "unconcealed" or ee new postings any time soon. I have a job I applied for in 2005 that still tells me that I am under consideration. So leave this site immediately, and make your way to htpps://careers.un.org where you will find a gold mine of information and feel-good propaganda about the organization, and the different employment options, ranging from UNPAID internships, volunteers (living allowance paid), temporary jobs, consultancies, and the holy grail of a Professional fixed-term appointment.
There is currently (closing 30 April 2016) an entry level P3 Legal Officer position based in NY which is a good starting point and reason to fill in your CV, which we call PHP for "Personal History Form". This particular job is with the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, but the process is exactly the same as for any other Legal Officer position. For this post (P3_ you will need at least 5 years of legal experience relevant to a Pension Fund.
The PHP will require you to complete the usual personal details, qualifications, publications and work experience. You need to be as comprehensive and also as accurate as humanly possible. None is going to check what you say ab innate, but there is an office whose job is to double check that you actually have a law degree, and that you publications are genuine, and your work history is accurate. Please, don't list your yet-to-be-completed LLM even if you only half half a unit to get your degree. They will find out and you will be banned forever, and no appeals are possible in this game. You will tick a box confirming all you say is 100%, and the UN means gets very upset if your integrity doesn't come up to scratch, as you would expect. and particularly the Legal Office.
The process that will follow is that all applicants will undergo a technical paper review by Human Resources and this will be followed by a short-listing at the hands of expert Office of Legal Affairs senior legal officer. Those who survive the cull will then go the next stage which may or may not include a written assessment of relevant legal questions, in this case "Pension Fund related, and they will throw in possibly a contract question, and no doubt something from the perspective of UN privileges and immunities. This will be done in writing via internet questions to be answered within a strict time limit which will sheldon be sufficient got the 3 or 4 questions thrown at you. No time for Bluff if you don't know the answers. Be concise, the answers need to be as thick as treacle, and the passing mark will be - perhaps - the top half a dozen candidates who will move to the next stage of an actual verbal "competency based interview", but which will need to be the subject of a subsequent post. So stay tuned, and good luck.
There is always a lawyer, the exception that prove the rule one hopes, that leaves the rest of the profession in a severe state of embarrassment and shame. In this instance IP lawyer Mr Dan Nelson a Partner-Attorney at Manhattan's Nelson & McCulloch is the one we look down to. Mr Nelson was charged with rape following a drinking spree at a Manhattan Bar last August, having downed 3 bottles of wine and driving a woman in his Aston Martin to his Midtown office for what he hoped would be a on-night stand in the $5,732 "Murphy Bed" he had installed in his Office.
According to the New York Post, forever reliable and not in the business of sensationalism, the alleged victim changed her mind about the evening, but Mr Nelso reacted angrily and engaged in violence and raped her. Whilst we don't yet know the outcome of the trial, we do know that Mr Nelson's neurons must have severely affected. One would guess this may not have been the first time he engaged in heavy drinking, that would be pure speculation but then again this is a Blog and not the Supreme Court.
We already know his IQ is less than it should be for driving an Aston Martin in Manhattan with 3 bottles of wine (that he admitted, maybe there was the odd shot as well .. who knows) under his belt. Mr Nelson further alleged as part of his defense that he suffers from erectly dysfunction and that he had forgotten his Viagra pills. However, he did admit that he angrily grabbed the complainant by the arm and pushed her towards the door when - according to him - she mocked his inability to become erect in the absence of the magic pill. Nelson claimed that "she wouldn't budge" and would not leave, and at some stage, in a scene from a bad Benny Hill sketch from the 1970s, "she lunged away from him" at which point her dress tore and came off in his hands, and her wig came off.
Without seeking to make light of the very serious charge and the trauma facing the complainant, and irrespective of the final outcome of the trial, Mr Nelson hardly seems a person we would be proud to call a member of the NY Bar. His clients ought to beware of his apparent memory lapses, he also claimed not to remember an earlier incident that evening where it is alleged that he was involved in an incident with another woman calling her grandmother 'a whore'.
We are certain that the NY Bar will take a close interest in Mr Nelson once the proceedings are concluded, and we are sure the IRS will look closely into his public claims to make $50,000 a month, his $35,000 watch, whether he claimed the 3 bottles of wine as a deductible expense, and also on what basis his acknowledgement of the use of the Murphy Bed for reasons less than legal would not require an amendment to his tax returns to date.
Kimberley Motley is quite an unique lawyer. She doesn't live Human Rights from the comforts of London or New York, but actually in the field, and without the cover of a NGO, or an International Organization of any kind. Not only that, she chose the most difficult of field locations, Afghanistan. An American Female Lawyer in Afghanistan. Much of her success is possibly due that Afghan elites just didn't know how to deal with this dynamo American litigator unconstrained by bureaucratic structures or the requirements of diplomatic conduct, or any donor priorities or requirements or restrictions.
Motley represents a new model for field rule of law. An unconstrained private practitioner who takes no prisoners and is focused solely in the client and not the donor or political niceties. Nothing I can say will give you any idea of this amazing international human rights practitioner.
Please have a look at these videos. Kimberley is more than able to speak for herself.
Blessed be the US Security apparatus for it will keep the US legal fraternity gainfully engaged for years to come. The first salvo of the conflict was fired on 16 February 2016 when the US District Court for the Central District of California issued a momentous order requiring Apple Inc to provide the FBI with technical assistance not being unreasonably burdensome to develop a backdoor into iOS software to allow the FBI to pry into information that could be contained in an iPhone.
The current USA Govt v Apple encryption war has been coming since 2014 when Apple released the then new iOS8 that included encrypted features to much chest-thumping from Apple. It promised me, as an already devout Apple customer, that the data on my iPhone and iPad, once encrypted by the passcode that only I would know, would remain private and that Apple would not be able to unlock my devices even if ordered so by a court. Prima facie, as a law abiding citizen, I ought to have no fear of the FBI looking into my devices, but I do like my privacy, and that of my clients whose information, sometimes privileged information , I may need to keep confidential between us, or purely restricted to myself.
Immediately, some writers argued that Apple was working against the public interest in that lawful investigations would be frustrated by Apple acting in its own selfish commercial interests in creating and promoting such a feature. But as Matthew Green argued at the time, Apple was not simply designing a system to beat US law enforcement authorities, it had built a system to prevent everyone who might want access to my data. That included US law enforcement, but also hackers, curious partners and house-mates, and foreign agencies who could be interested in the contents of my iPhone. Unlike Google’s Android, being open sourced available to one and all, and mainly Google for its own commercial purposes, Apple was denying itself the entitlement to troll through my data to identify my likes and to direct to me willing advertisers. To me this was a major feature, and one that had I not already being a Apple fan from way back would have been extremely attractive to switch from open-source Android to encrypted iOS8. Green explains the feature better than I ever could, but in essence Apple was seducing me with the promise of my emails, texts, photos and calls records being protected from one and all. More than one buyer relied of his explicit promise from 2014 onwards to buy and continue to buy Apple products. In my own evangelizing efforts for Apple (I am a very minor shareholder), I trumped the feature mercilessly in addition to the viral, troll, and spam immunity I felt I also enjoyed as a devout follower of the Church of St Steve Jobs of Cupertino.
Apple’s most recent information, its 2015 iOS Security Guide, trumps these features as major selling points. This should not surprise anyone, for its not only my emails and photos that I feel are protected from prying eyes, but also my credit card and product purchase information, that Apple assured me would be kept from Apple itself and be known only to me and my dear banking institution. Apple would not be responsible for any leakages. Apple did not want to know what or where I purchased an item, it wouldn’t know my credit card numbers, or secret codes or passcodes. Apple-Pay would also remain confidential, as would that most precious of private information, my heath data kept in my iPhone and fed through my Apple Watch features which would only be known to me and my doctors. Page 57 of the 60 page security undertaking by Apple, assured me and enterprise users that our data would be secured.
Obviously Apple has done an excellent job when the might of US security apparatus, including the NSA and the FBI have needed to resort to a court order to demand that Apple does what it has assured its private and corporate clients it would not do. Their own extensive efforts must have failed miserably for them to need to resort to demanding that Apple develops what it doesn’t yet exist, to design a master access key or a whole database of such keys for every device sold, and which would possibly be needed to be shipped from its Chinese factories for safe security in Cupertino. One would hope not in the hands of the FBI whose security systems have proven less than 100% reliable over the years.
Apple could develop such a backdoor, but it would be a costly nightmare to keep it secure and confidential from malicious hackers, disgruntled employees, the NSA and foreign governments. Green recalls the 2012 incident where the Indian government demanded and obtained from Blackberry a “lawful intercept” mechanism to prey into its clients data. The industrial intelligence implications of opening up the backdoor are immense, not just for Apple’s corporate reputation and business model, but in terms of the financial interests of its immense customer base. A major benefit of the largest (US) world corporation would be null and void for all effects and purposes; its technological leadership seriously damaged if not obliterated.
Unlike Blackberry, which seems to have caved in, Apple risked potential loss of sales if foreign governments demanded what the US government is in fact doing now. That they haven’t done so could be indicative that it is perhaps in everyone’s interest to be able to keep some data privy from everyone else. But this doesn’t seem to be the opinion of a US security establishment which neither developed the technology nor has it been able over the past two years to crack it.
The Court Order by the US District Court for the Central District of California on a petition by the USA Government represented by the US Attorney, the Assistant US Attorneys for the NSA and the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section and for the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, was not half-hazard. It was long coming and meant to turn the handle on a situation the US security establishment has been concerned since 2014.
Given the potential reputational and resulting financial costs to Apple, it is not surprising the company is fighting back. One can visualize the lines of class claims seeking refunds and damages from Apple, and the declining sales resulting from the perceived destruction of a major sales feature that differentiates the company from its rivals (US and alien alike). Apple has no choice but to push back, and push back it will.
The Order dated 16 February 2016 is subject to potential relief to be sought by Apple within 5 business days of receipt, which would be sometime this week. There is no question that long and expensive legal argument will ensue which will include Apple arguing that compliance would be unreasonably burdensome, and that will extend to Constitutional arguments that an experienced litigator such as Apple is well versed in. We are on for a long show indeed. Stay tuned.
We can't let the day go by without giving a free plug to the NY Times and its piece by John Schwartz and Mikayla Bouchard on some memorable quotes from the late Justice Scalia, of the US Supreme Court, who passed away of apparent natural causes over the weekend.
Justice Scalia will be hard to forget. He had a massive intellect and a sense of humor often missing from the Benches of the US Supreme Court, but his opinions, and particularly his dissenting opinions on social issues did not touch the funny bone of those at the vanguard of social issues. He was traditional in his attitude to marriage and gay rights, right to bear arms, and the death penalty. He famously dissented in Lawrence v Texas that abolished criminal punishment for homosexual acts. He reasoned his dissent in Lawrence on what he thought were three matters appropriate for the Court to address: (1) whether the Texas prohibition of sodomy infringed a fundamental right or (2) whether it was unsupported by a rational relation to what the Constitution considers a legitimate State interest; and (3) whether it denied the equal protection of the laws. He dissented on all three basis arguing that he could not find a fundamental right to sodomy in the Constitution, that the regulation of morality was a legitimate state interest, and that there was no denial of due process equality to a person charged with sodomy.
He was most famously quoted, and misquoted, in comparing sodomy with bigamy, paedophilia, incest, bestiality and gay marriage. He did nothing of the sort. He merely argued that all these conducts were criminalized by states in the exercise of its legitimate interest to legislate on matters moral as a legitimate State interest and that in judicially striking out State legislation on sodomy on the basis that matters moral were not the business of States, that ipso facto there was no basis to argue for State to criminalize other sexual conducts. That by opening the gates to sodomy you leave yourself open to a flood of amoral conduct being legalized by the Supreme Court. He was not explicitly, at least from the bench, as anti-homosexual. His argument relied on him holding that matters of morality were legitimate interests of the States which legislate by parliamentary majority, and that the "homosexual agenda" was free to engage in appropriate politics to have legislation changed at State level rather than to rely on the Supreme Court, where a bench of a few Justices were not the appropriate body to dictate States and their respective majority of citizens what constituted conduct that they could disapprove. What he actually said was "Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them than I would forbid it to do so. What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new constitutional right by a Court that is impatient of democratic change. It is indeed true that later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,...... and when that happens, later generations can repeal those laws. But it is the premise of our system that those judgments are to be made by the people, and not imposed by a governing caste that knows best."
He was correct to a certain point. He could see that gay marriage was next on the agenda, and he lived to see, dissenting, the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. He also warned in Lawrence that he would use its rationale to overturn Roe v Wade on abortion just as Lawrence was seeking the 1986 decision in Bowers on homosexual conduct arguing there was a stronger basis to overturn Roe than Bowers.
in the end, he stayed behind the thinking of a majority of his peers in the Supreme Court intent on decriminalizing sexual conduct between consenting adults. His exaggerated appeal that this would open the gates of hell to child sexual abuse by the Supreme Court being rather far-fetched, the Court itself reflecting current majority community values which are far from considering that child sex abuser are entitled to constitutional protection of due process. However, by Scalia's own arguments, nothing prevents States from legislating to that effect, no doubt something that certain community groups existing in the border areas of Utah, Arizona and Nevada would love their respective State to legalize multiple marriages. In fact, there is probably a strong argument on the basis of Lawrence for a constitutional challenge for plural-marriages between consenting adults. Whether it would be a wise choice to acquire more than one set of in-laws at a time would be debatable. We can almost read what would have been his dissenting opinion. He will be missed by supporters and detractors alike for his intellectual integrity and transparency. Even those of us who dress to the left, look to his generation, he was appointed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, as conservatives one could live with and certainly work with and against. I hate to think what my descendants in 30 years time would have to deal with if any of the leading potential republican candidates for the White House was to be elected.
NY Times Scalia Obituary.
The battle lines for control of the Supreme Court are drawn and to play a central role in the current US Presidential election. Here is TrusTED Cruz statement today frightening the Little Sister of the Poor into abject poverty.
One fascinating feature of the US Legal system, at least fascinating for those who don't practice within the US, is the industrial scale of the phenomenon of class actions. And where the US is today, the rest of the world will follow soon enough.
One website worth visiting, if for nothing else than mere curiosity is topclassactions.com and which with close to 300,000 eager subscribers is a runaway success and needs no support from 2GEDAR, but it does provide free legal information so it does fall within the 2GEDAR parameters of the Free Legal Access Movement, so here is our unrequested free plug..
TOPCLASSACTIONS keeps subcribers abreast of noteworthy actions and settlements, updates and reminders of closing actions. US class actions range from the worthwhile to the ridiculous, and include those clearly constituting harassment and many that in most jurisdictions would simply be thrown out as vexatious. This month's menu include Veda Woodward v Lee Labrada et al Case No. 2:16-cv-00717, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Veda Woodward as Plaintiff is suing popular TV Medico Dr Mehmet Oz, who regularly touts medical weight loss miracles on worldwide syndicated TV programs from the US. One such alleged miracle is a range of products made by Labrada Bodybuilding Nutricion, owned by California Bodybuilder Lee Labrada, who markets magic weight loss potions such as "Labrada Garcinia Cambodia Dual Action Fat Buster" and "Labrada Green Coffee Bean Extract Fat Loss Optimizer" and "Labrada Raspberry Ketones Metabolic Enhancer", and "Labrada Fat Buster Fat Loss Aid". The lawsuit essentially argues that Mr Labrada manufactures weight loss snake oil, and that Dr Oz, who comes in with a Stanford University medical degree, of being the main shake charmer marketing placebos to a gullible population too lazy to engage in the only tried and proven method for weight loss and fitness being a well balance diet and regular exercise. The lawsuit also argues that Dr Oz conceals his financial interest with Labrada, and that they engage in negligent misrepresentation, breach of implied and express warranty, and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
Good luck to the Plaintiff if it manages to raise awareness that it is only through hard work and food discipline that the obese will regain a svelte figure and free themselves from diabetes; and if snake oil peddlers think twice about making money from the lazy and gullible who think that taking a few pills will give them the body of Mr Labrada, who surely got his through 10,000 hours at the gym and perhaps some legal chemical assistance other than Fat Loss Optimizers.
As a devout BMW lover, I am aghast that Avi Azoulai has filed against BMW of North America LLC [Azouli v BMW of North America LLC Case No. 5:16-cv-00589, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California] alleging that the "soft close" automatic door closure in his 2014 BMW 750Li caused him a physical injury to one of his fingers, which would not have been as serious had he simply slammed the door against his finger the traditional way. Apparently when the door is within 6 mm of the door, the technology pulls the door to a close and locks it. It seems BMS may not have explicitly told him he should make sure his finger is not caught between the door and the frame. The Plaintiff, who did not lose a finger and merely needed a trip to the emergency room for an x-ray and a bandaid, is seeking a humble sum of $1,000 for himself and each member of the class. So if you purchased a 2002-2016 BMW 7 series or an of a list of series 5, X5, X6, 6 and M Models, you too could look for your $1,000 even if you didn't need a bandaid when you were silly enough not to move your finger when you closed the car door. The humble BMW 3Series I drive is not equipped with this feature, so I miss out.
On a more serious and worthwhile note, Johnson and Johnson are being sued on the allegation that its drug RISPERDAL, approved for use in children to treat autism and bipolarity has given cause for 1,300 lawsuits alleging that the drug increases breast tissue growth in young boys. An Alabama male treated for autism as a child alleges that the company concealed the side effects and that he grew breast size 46DD. RISPERAL has caused J & J $2.2 billion in damages so far, and there appears to be a long line of claimants being handled by Jones Law, who pays to include the claim in the TOPCLASSACTIONS website. Understandably, they need for pay the bills.
On the other side of the worthwhile spectrum, and matching Labrada for gullibility, we could join Amy Boulton v Carringtom Tea Co LLC Case No. BC609360 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, who claims she was fooled that adverts by Carrington that Coconut Oil is healthier that Butter and other oils is misleading and that Cocunut Oils are in fact far from healthy. Ms Boulton should know that frying donuts whether in coconut oil, butter or even virgin olive oil is not a healthy alternative to a balanced diet and regular exercise.
As most of us had forgotten that Julian Assange continued to live inside the Ecuador Embassy in London under 'diplomatic asylum', the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has come to the assistance of his massive ego and need for attention to remind us he remains an issue that few except a wealthy cadre english supporters too proud to back out from a lost cause they wish they had never involved themselves in care about, and stood bail for.
In a somewhat surprising decision, the UN Working Panel on Arbitrary Detention (Panel) has concluded that he is being arbitrary detained inside the Embassy, and that he should be given the benefit of his entitlements to free movement, and medical treatment for a sore shoulder. From the perspective of the reasonable man, the decision is baffling. It is not as if either the British or the Swedes have kept him incarcerated without due process. Mr Assange voluntarily committed himself to a 30 square metre room inside an Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on serious sexual assault allegations, and following extensive due process in the UK and Sweden. In fact, he committed himself only once he had exhausted every possible legal avenue of appeal, and his home arrest in an English country mansion was about to be converted into actual incarceration and extradition to that most terrible of legal jurisdictions, Sweden, infamous of course for wantonly abusing human rights.
The Panel released on 22 January 2016 an Advance Unedited Version of Opinion A/HRC/WGAD/2015 issued at the request of the Assange legal team, and received submissions from Assange and the British and Swedish governments. Both governments being equally baffled by the resulting opinion, and fully intending to ignore the recommendations and proceed to actually arrest Mr Assange and extradite him to Sweden to face the horrors of the Swedish legal system.
What has baffled the British and the Swedish is the expansive definition of what constitutes arbitrary detention, and which according to the Panel includes the period since August 2012 when Mr Assange was granted diplomatic asylum by Ecuador and took up residency inside its premises. In fact, Mr Assange was incarcerated only between 7 and 16 December 2010, and spent the next 550 days under house arrest in an English country Mansion compliments of one of his wealthy supporters whilst fighting extradition proceedings.
Mr Assange has taken advantage, as he was entitled to do, of every possible opportunity through the legal systems of Sweden and Britain. In February 2011, the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Mr. Assange should be surrendered to Sweden in accordance with the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Swedish prosecutor investigating him on serious sexual offences. This decision was upheld by the English High Court in a ruling of 2 November 2011 and by the English Supreme Court on 30 May 2012. Mr. Assange requested a reconsideration of the detention order before the Stockholm District Court on 24 June 2014. On 16 July 2014, the Stockholm District Court ruled that the decision on detention in absentia should be upheld. Once he had exhausted all his due process entitlements, essentially he jumped bail and sought refuge under diplomatic asylum with Ecuador, itself politically motivated to front the Anti-USA diatribes of the Bolivarian Alliance then headed by that champion of the rule of law and open government, the late President Chavez of Venezuela. Mr Assange has remained in self-confinement in the Embassy since 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.
In its opinion, the Panel holds that the 550 days under house arrest, while he was fighting proceedings, and which included restrictions upon his freedom of movement in having to report daily to police, wear an electronic tracking device, and remain at home at night constitute arbitrary detention. In an further exercise of what must constitute creative legal fiction, the subsequent period under self-confinement in the Ecuador Embassy since August 2012 also constitutes arbitrary detention according to the Panel.
The Panels opinion lacks common sense. No 'reasonable person' would ever conclude that voluntarily confinement in an Embassy, from which Mr Assange could walk out at any moment of his choice can amount to detention by the British, let alone the Swedes.
Let's be clear. Mr Asange is seeking to avoid questioning in Sweden on common crimes. He basic argument is that these allegations are a conspiracy by US authorities to have him eventually extradited to the USA where theoretically he would face the death penalty for having released politically damaging leaked intelligence to the general public through Wikileaks. He is saying that the women he allegedly raped in Sweden are conspiring (one would guess) with US intelligence operators, and that in turn the Swedish prosecutor investigating him, and by extension Swedish Judicial authorities and the Swedish government are either colluding or being manipulated to hand him over to US judicial authorities.
One does have to give Mr Assange due credit for the workings of his fertile imagination that he is able to concoct a conspiracy theory of such fictional creativity, and more amazing that he has gathered a coterie of supporters willing to fund his legal campaigns who must actually believe and buy into his fabled version of events. His legal team has managed to extend the club of believers to the Panel, except the Australian Member who recused herself on account of nationality, and the (thankfully) dissenting Russian Member who brought a touch of legal sanity and commons sense to the Opinion.
Interestingly, his legal team includes Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish prosecutor-judge who managed to have the late Chilean President Augusto Pinochet "arbitrarily detained" in a London hospital for more than two years. Pinochet fought extradition proceedings to Spain on rather serious charges of crimes against humanity, torture and mass murder. In fact, Garzon's application to London was virtually identical in term of process to that of the Swedish authorities with Assange. Like the Swedish prosecutor, Garzon was acting as Prosecuting Judge, functionally similar to a Director of Public Prosecutions. Garzon, as prosecutor, had issued an arrest warrant which was served, recognized and processed in the UK. Like Assange, Pinochet challenged it and lost it at every stage of the process in the UK, and remained under detention in a London Hospital on health grounds before the Foreign Secretary eventually exercised his executive discretion to have Pinochet returned home to Chile on humanitarian grounds instead of being extradited to Spain as the courts had ruled he should be.
In its submission to the Panel, Garzon has argued that restrictions on freedom of movement, however benign, imposed whilst challenging extradition proceedings constitute prima facie arbitrary detention, and entitle the detainee to compensation. One would have to guess what Garzon would have said had Pinochet also challenged his hospital detention to the Panel and obtained an Opinion along the same lines as Assange. Full credit must go to Garzon's legal skills that he managed to keep Pinochet incarcerated for 2 years, it was after all the only time in his life that Pinochet saw his persona challenged judicially, and accountable for his crimes. Baltasar Garzon has now further excelled himself in securing this Opinion from the Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
However, just as the Pinochet case was a hollow victory for Garzon since he returned home compliments of a British Government grateful for his assistance in the Falklands conflict against Argentina, so it will be with Assange. Despite the natural Assange protestations that there is a moral obligation on the British and the Swedes to take notice and comply with the Opinion of the Panel, neither is willing to pay the slightest attention and allow Mr Assange to exit the UK for medical treatment in Quito for Mr Assange's sore shoulder. The Opinion is not only lacking in common sense, but is also not legally binding, and its only practical purpose seems to have been to remind us of Mr Assange continued presence in the Ecuador's London Embassy. As Mr Assange well knows, he can walk out any time he chooses, of course to be arrested and extradited to Stockholm to be questioned and perhaps charged, prosecuted and convicted for sexual offences. The changes that Sweden would at any stage extradited him to the US to face the death penalty are so far fetched that defy even cursory consideration.
Mr Assange, who has now spent fighting extradition longer than he would have spent in jail in Stockholm if convicted, would be well advised to fly himself to Stockholm and answer the prosecutor's questions on the allegations of sexual assault against him. Then again, he could be charges and convicted and the personality cult he has built around himself collapse.