Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention
59 countries endorses the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. This was designed to prevent the rights of foreign nationals from being abused for political reasons. However, there are some issues to address.
1. Declaration Sounds Fine On The Surface
The arbitrary arrest or detention of foreign nationals to compel action or to exercise leverage over a foreign government is contrary to international law, undermines international relations, and has a negative impact on foreign nationals traveling, working and living abroad. Foreign nationals abroad are susceptible to arbitrary arrest and detention or sentencing by governments seeking to compel action from other States. The purpose of this Declaration is to enhance international cooperation and end the practice of arbitrary arrest, detention or sentencing to exercise leverage over foreign governments.
Recognising a pressing need for an international response to the prevalence of these practices, and guided by international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations:
1. We reaffirm that arbitrary arrests and detentions are contrary to international human rights law and instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international and regional human rights instruments;
2. We express grave concern about the use of arbitrary arrest or detention by States to exercise leverage over foreign governments, contrary to international law;
3. We are deeply concerned that arbitrary arrest, detention, or sentencing to exercise leverage over foreign governments undermines the development of friendly relations and cooperation between States, international travel, trade and commerce, and the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means;
4. We are alarmed by the abuse of State authority, including judicial authority, to arbitrarily arrest, detain or sentence individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments. We call on States to respect their obligations related to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal;
5. We urge all States to refrain from arbitrary arrest, detention, or sentencing to exercise leverage over foreign governments in the context of State-to-State relations;
6. We reaffirm the fundamental importance of the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, respect for human rights, and respect for the obligation to provide consular access in accordance with international law, including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other applicable international instruments;
7. We call upon States to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to harsh conditions in detention, denial of access to counsel, and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals arbitrarily arrested, detained or sentenced to exercise leverage over foreign governments. We reaffirm the urgent need to provide these individuals with an effective remedy consistent with international human rights law, and call for their immediate release;
8. We stand in solidarity with States whose nationals* have been arbitrarily arrested, detained or sentenced by other States seeking to exercise leverage over them and acknowledge the need to work collaboratively to address this issue of mutual concern at the international level.
This Declaration remains open to endorsement.
(*) Including dual nationals in accordance with endorsing countries’ laws on nationality.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with any of this. People’s rights shouldn’t be denied or abused in order to make some geopolitical power play. The text of the treaty sounds fine. However, there are some problems that need to be addressed.
Of course, how would such a treaty be enforced? Who and where would it be enforced? Could a country simply withdraw and go about business as usual? How could anyone scrutinize or investigate possible violations?
2. China Is The Elephant In The Room
There seems to be no mention of China, who has been holding 2 Canadians as prisoners for years. This of course, refers to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. This happened in retaliation for Canada arresting a Huawei executive. Also, what about the mass arrests and persecutions of religious minorities that China has long been accused of committing?
What is really the purpose of this Declaration? Is it to send a message? Is it to appear virtuous? Of course, appearing virtuous is not the same thing as being virtuous. It can’t be for ideological reasons, given the following issue:
3. Arbitrary Detention In So-Called Pandemic
For any of these countries to be taken seriously, what about the human rights abuses that are going on domestically against their own citizens? Is it okay, or less wrong, when it’s done locally? Do any of these sound familiar?
- Forced quarantine detentions
- Forced curfews
- Forced stay-at-home orders
- Forced closures of businesses
- Forced closures of religious services
- Forced masks on adults
- Forced masks on children
- Forced nasal rape for bogus tests
- Peaceful assembly banned
- Banning free speech as “misinformation”
- Arrests for violating any of the above
While these 59 countries are crowing about how virtuous they are, many have implemented some or all of the above measures. Of course, this is done in the name of “public safety”. Are they not stripping their own people’s rights in order to implement political agendas? Shouldn’t human rights be applied universally, not just when travelling abroad?
Although it’s still just a proposal, public officials in Canada have openly suggested the idea of passing laws to ban what they call “misinformation”. Of course, this refers to people who will research and expose their lies.