Chris Jenks & Eric Talbot Jensen, 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘏𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘙𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘌𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘚𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘔𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘌𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘖𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘹𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘙𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘛𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳 𝘚𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘐𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘺, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘈𝘛𝘖 𝘚𝘖𝘍𝘈, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘙𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴, 1 Hᴀʀᴠ. Nᴀᴛ'ʟ Sᴇᴄ. J. 171 (2010).
On November 4, 2009, an Italian court found a group of Italian military intelligence agents, operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency and a U.S. Air Force (USAF) officer guilty of the 2003 kidnapping of terror suspect Abu Omar. Thrown in a van on the streets of Milan, the abduction took Abu Omar from Italy to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured and interrogated about his role in recruiting fighters for extremist Islamic causes, including the insurgency in Iraq. This essay posits that lost amidst politically charged rhetoric about Bush administration impunity and the “war on terror” is that the Italian Court did not have jurisdiction over the USAF officer and violated the human rights of the other U.S. defendants. None of the U.S. defendants were at the proceedings. Although the Italian government refused to forward extradition requests from the Italian prosecutor to the U.S. government, Italian law allows for in absentia trials. Two Americans secured private counsel, the remaining U.S. defendants were solely represented by court-appointed Italian attorneys, none of whom ever spoke with their clients. Regardless of whether what happened to Abu Omar is considered an extraordinary rendition or state enabled kidnapping, the Italian proceedings should provide little comfort to those truly interested in the rule of law and human rights. Rather than supporting the rule of law, the Italian trial blatantly disregarded international law and treaty and the conduct of the in absentia proceedings simply followed one alleged human rights abuse with another. This essay explains how the trial constituted a precedent setting breach by Italy of its international treaty obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement. The essay then details the flawed in absentia trials, flaws which amount to a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Ultimately this essay concludes that while Italy may have spoken out against extraordinary rendition, the price for doing so was Italy’s own commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
1 Harv. Nat'l Sec. J.
Harvard National Security Journal