I spent yesterday attending a fascinating conference in Athens on human rights and counter-terrorism measures, jointly organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (http://www.mfhr.gr/?ln=1). The stars of the conference were the Swiss senator, Dick Marty, and his key researcher, Gavin Simpson (who, incidentally, worked with me on the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where he was as indispensable to our activities as he has been to Senator Marty.
The two of them described their fascinating detective work, tracing the rendition flights throughout Europe with the help of a network of plane-spotters and more than a few ‘whistle-blowers’. It is an amazing dimension of human rights work that we rarely hear about. The very detailed and convincing reports that they prepared are available on the website of the Parliamentary Assembly: http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=2974.
The afternoon session, at which I spoke, focused on the issue of blacklists. These are authorised by the Security Council, in a series of resolutions, which pretty much puts them out of the reach of judicial review. According to Senator Marty, everyone on the blacklists is a Muslim. The consequence of being put on a blacklist is that your assets are frozen, and you cannot travel. Senator Marty has also done a great report on this subject, which reviews the frustrating attempts to convince courts to step in and impose a bit of rule of law on the UN Security Council: http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=3507.
Gavin is now based in New York, where he is working as a consultant for One World Research, which says it conducts ‘public interest investigations and human rights research: http://www.oneworldresearch.com/about.html.