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Civil and Political Rights 

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that US citizen Jose Padilla filed a lawsuit in a California federal district court this morning against former deputy assistant Attorney General John Yoo:

“The suit filed this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, turns the spotlight of blame on Yoo, the author of a series of legal memoranda known collectively as the “Torture Memos.” Drafted in 2002, when Yoo was a deputy assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department, they provided the legal justification for the interrogation techniques used on suspected Al Qaeda operatives that many, from former generals to presidential candidates, have since decried as torture.

‘John Yoo is the first person in American history to provide the legal authorization for the instiution of torture in the U.S.,’ said Jonathan Freiman, an attorney representing Padilla in the suit.  ‘He [Yoo] was an absolutely essential part of what will be viewed by history as a group of rogue officials acting under cover of law to undermine fundamental rights.  It never would have happened without the legal green light. That made it possible.'”

Mugabe According to the Washington Post, the International Crisis Group is backing a new plan to “save” Zimbabwe.  Just what is this silver bullet, you ask?  The plan calls for Robert Mugabe to live out his golden years in peace, with all the silver and gold he has allegedly plundered from international donors while his “liberated” country has sunk deeper and deeper into despair.  In addition to keeping his booty, the plan calls for the originator of “the right to bash” to receive full amnesty.

Is this the best that the human rights community can offer the people of Zimbabwe?  Do Zimbabwe’s neighbors — who admittedly are paying a price for Mugabe’s deeds by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees — have the right to hide Mugabe from prosecution?

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, recently stated “A good percentage of African-Americans are leery of our Justice Department. When there hasn’t been a real effort to deal with [unsolved civil rights slayings] how can we count on them to provide the support and protection we need today?”

For you users of the Inter-American system, my question is this: might it be a good strategy to file petitions before the Commission based upon individual murders in which there appears never to have been an investigation that meets international standards?