Monday, November 05, 2007

Two Faces of Terror

One face of terror is terrorist acts such as the World Trade Center bombing, the Madrid Metro bombing and the London Metro bombing. The other face is state terror, forceful actions by agents of a government, directed against those seen to be its enemies, outside of the rule of law.

“Two Faces of Terror” is the title of an article written by my friend and former colleague (now Dean of the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies), Tom Farer. It was published in the influential “American Journal of In International Law.” I received a link to the article by email last evening and stopped to read it at once.

Farer assesses President Bush’s policies in “The War on Terror” from the vantage point of eight years’ service (1976-1983) on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “a principal arm of the Organization of American States.” He applies the standards used by the Commission to judge regimes in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala and El Salvador, among others.

Farer concludes his assessment by quoting from the Commission’s report on Argentina, a military regime notorious for ‘disappearances,' suspending the rule of law and violating the rights of its citizens.

“The Commission repeatedly has emphasized the obligation of governments... to preserve the safety of their inhabitants... In the life of any nation, the personal safety of its inhabitants, by...groups that use violence, can reach such proportions that it becomes necessary, temporarily, to suspend the exercise of certain human rights. However it is...clear that certain fundamental rights can never be suspended, as is the case, among others, of the right to life, the right to personal safety, or the right to due process. In other words, under no circumstances may governments employ summary execution, torture, inhumane detention or the denial of certain minimum conditions of justice...

Each government that confronts a subversive threat must choose, on the one hand, the path of respect for the rule of law, or, on the other hand, the descent into state terrorism,.

The link to Farer’s article is:

Read it !


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