The United Nations and the American media are choosing to highlight a new report of the international body’s Committee Against Torture that criticizes many aspects of US law enforcement. Writing for the Associated Press, reporter John Heilprin tried to frame the UN’s critique against the backdrop of the recent controversy in Ferguson, Missouri. Heilprin failed to note, however, that the UN’s Committee Against Torture has also recently criticized countries such as Belgium and the Vatican for failing to do enough to stop “torture” in their countries.
In its Annual Report released in October, the UN’s Committee Against Torture reviewed the progress of several nations in implementing an international convention against torture. Both Belgium and the Vatican, among a number of nations, were urged to reform several law enforcement practices. Neither country’s police force received the recommended training nor did the countries maintain humane and adequate prisons.
Obviously, no reasonable people worry about what fates might befall them if they wind up in police custody in Belgium or the Holy See. The Committee’s critique of these countries, as well as its stemwinder against the US, underscores the basic problem with the UN. It has defined “torture” so broadly that all countries bear some guilt. If every country is guilty to some degree, than each country is also innocent.
A country which fails to enact national legislation criminalizing the spanking of children, for example, runs afoul of the UN’s guidelines against torture. “Pre-trial detention,” where an alleged criminal is held in custody before a trial, will also generate a stern rebuke from the international body. Each of these, among many others, is classified as a measure necessary to eliminate “torture.”
Two countries that oversee this “review” of all UN member countries’ anti-torture efforts are Morocco and China. These are among the 12 nations tapped by the United Nations to define “torture” and police measures implemented to eliminate it. The Vatican may not have established a national institution to review complaints of prisoner mistreatment, but Moroccan criticism of that should be taken with an ocean of salt.
Whatever promise existed at its founding, the United Nations has devolved into a tripped-out condo association from hell. If everyone is guilty of contravening international norms, than no one is. The countries with the most freedom will earn the most criticism, for no other reason than that criticism is allowed. It requires much less bravery to slam Belgium’s law enforcement than China’s.
The UN’s sole purpose today is to allow partisan journalists such as Heilprin to invoke its alleged moral superiority for their own political ends. If the UN didn’t exist, hack journalists like Heilprin would have to create it.
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