Ansprache von Nils Melzer, UN Sonderberichterstatter für Folter, Deutscher Bundestag, Berlin, 27. November 2019

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Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Herzlichen Dank für die Einladung, an dieser Veranstaltung im deutschen Bundestag teilzunehmen und meinen Beitrag dazu zu leisten. Ich denke, die Frage nach der Verantwortlichkeit für die psychologische Folterung von Julian Assange muss in zwei Teilen beantwortet werden, wobei sich eine erste Phase auf den Zeitraum seines diplomatischen Asyls in der ecuadorianischen Botschaft in London bezieht und die zweite auf die Zeit seit seiner Inhaftierung durch Grossbritannien.

Erste Phase: Politische Verfolgung und Botschaftsasyl

Ich habe Herrn Assange bekanntlich mit meinem Ärzteteam am 9. Mai 2019 im Hochsicherheitsgefängnis von Belmarsh besucht. Das war etwa drei, vier Wochen nach seiner Festnahme am 11. April, und wir stellten fest, in einer dreistündigen medizinischen Untersuchung und einer zusätzlichen einstündigen Unterredung mit mir, dass er alle Symptome zeigte, welche typisch sind für Personen, die über längere Zeit psychologischer Folter ausgesetzt waren. …

Speech by Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, at the German Bundestag in Berlin, 27 November 2019 (English translation)

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this event at the German Bundestag. In my view, the legal responsibility for Julian Assange’s psychological torture must be analyzed in two parts, namely a first phase relating to the period of his diplomatic asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and a second phase relating to his current detention by the United Kingdom.

First phase: political persecution and Embassy asylum

As is well known, I visited Mr. Assange together with my medical team on 9 May 2019 in Belmarsh maximum security prison. This was about three or four weeks after his arrest on 11 April. In the course of a three-hour medical examination and one-hour interview with me, we found that he showed all the symptoms that are typical of persons having been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. …

Keynote Address by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, University of Geneva, 10 December 2019

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Dear friends and colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we celebrate Human Rights Day. On this day, 71 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this historically unique and extraordinarily powerful instrument, which arose from the ashes of World War II, recognizing that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. Epitomizing a new world order based on human rights and dignity, its article 5 proclaims that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Today, hardly any norm of international law commands as much consensus and authority as the prohibition of torture. It is universally recognized as absolute, non-derogable and peremptory. It protects all human beings without discrimination and in all situations without exception, it cannot be restricted even in war and other situations of public emergency, it cannot be abolished even by treaty, and any contradicting legislative, administrative or judicial act is not only inherently unlawful, but originally void. States must prevent torture throughout their jurisdiction, may not transfer anyone to another jurisdiction where they may be exposed to torture, and may not use any information obtained through torture in any jurisdiction. In criminal law, violations of the prohibition of torture invariably figure among the gravest offences, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, and must always be investigated and prosecuted as a matter of universal jurisdiction. This, in a nutshell, is the international law on torture. …

Nils Melzer

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