Posted on Quemado Institute
February 5, 2016
Introduction by Kennedy Applebaum
Addressing crowds in London today, WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange declared that the UN decision on his arbitrary detention is a victory of historical importance, and that Sweden and the UK have lost. The official report from the website of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, presented below, explains the panel’s findings that Assange has been, in effect, arbitrarily detained during his earlier imprisonment and house arrest, and his subsequent three and a half year stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The WikiLeaks founder has accused British foreign secretary Philip Hammond of insulting the United Nations after Hammond objected to the panel’s conclusions. According to The Guardian, “Hammond called the panel’s finding ‘ridiculous’ and said the WikiLeaks founder was a ‘fugitive from justice’. Assange, who fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault, said the remarks were ‘beneath the stature that a foreign minister should express in this situation’. Assange said of the panel’s finding: ‘This is the end of the road for the legal arguments that have been put forward by Sweden and the UK.'” — And indeed, Philip Hammond tweeted at 12:30 UTC: “Assange is a fugitive from justice, voluntarily hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy. I reject the report from UNWGAD.”
Today, February 5, 2016, crowds of Assange supporters have gathered outside the embassy in London to urge the UK and Sweden to let the WikiLeaks founder go free. Preliminary reports released yesterday on the UN panel findings have provoked an avalanche of traffic on Twitter, where posts are predominantly in favor of granting Assange his liberty.
The photos shown here offer highlights from Twitter today on the events surrounding the official UN Human Rights Office announcement. SAWC Sydney tweets at 16:00 UTC: “Crowds have gathered around in London awaiting for Assange to speak.” Jim Clancy tweets: “Julian Assange Lawyers: He will appear when EU states vacate arrest warrants – guarantee he can walk free.” Thomas Drake tweets: “Arbitrary detention of Assange rooted in US contempt, prosecution and reprisal against whistleblowers, truthtellers and @WikiLeaks exposures.”
The following is the UN Human Rights Office official report:
Julian Assange Arbitrarily Detained by Sweden and UK,
UN Expert Panel Finds
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
February 5, 2016
GENEVA / WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said today.
In a public statement, the expert panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation (Check the statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17012&LangID=E)
Mr. Assange, detained first in prison then under house arrest, took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 after losing his appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden, where a judicial investigation was initiated against him in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct. However, he was not formally charged.
“The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention,” said Seong-Phil Hong, who currently heads the expert panel.
“The Working Group maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation,” Mr. Hong added.
In its official Opinion, the Working Group considered that Mr. Assange had been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth Prison in London, followed by house arrest and then confinement at the Ecuadorean Embassy.
The experts also found that the detention was arbitrary because Mr. Assange was held in isolation at Wandsworth Prison, and because a lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office in its investigations resulted in his lengthy loss of liberty.
The Working Group established that this detention violates Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Check the Working Group’s Opinion on Julian Assange’s case (No. 54/2015), adopted in December: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/A.HRC.WGAD.2015.docx
NOTE TO EDITORS:
The Opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are legally-binding to the extent that they are based on binding international human rights law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The WGAD has a mandate to investigate allegations of individuals being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way or inconsistently with international human rights standards, and to recommend remedies such as release from detention and compensation, when appropriate. The binding nature of its opinions derives from the collaboration by States in the procedure, the adversarial nature of is findings and also by the authority given to the WGAD by the UN Human Rights Council. The Opinions of the WGAD are also considered as authoritative by prominent international and regional judicial institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea) is the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Other members of the Working Group are Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia); Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Mexico); Mr. Roland Adjovi Sètondji (Benin) and Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx
The UN Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17013&LangID=E#sthash.RTUMyFBl.dpuf
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