Sunday, January 15, 2006

Herzinger on Europe and Human Rights

Since the beginning of this blog I have linked to Richard Herzinger's essay "Whisky für die Taliban" ("Whisky for the Taliban", as you might guess) in Die Zeit. Beginning with a scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian, he reminds Europe of what distinguishes Western civilization from the culture in which the Taliban or al-Qaida thrive. If you read German, you must read this piece.

Herzinger has also kept a blog "Ideen und Irrtümer" at his various places of employment: at die Zeit, at the blog site of Die Weltwoche, and now at Die Welt am Sontag.

On December 25, 2005, he had a posting on the double standard concerning human rights that Europe employs when criticizing the U.S. for its policies. He concludes his blog entry thus:

Where, then, were the storms of protest when Spain, with the explicit approval of the E.U. and in knowing disregard for the humanitarian rules it set up for itself, deported African refugees to Morocco, where torture is a matter of course? Where was the storm of outrage when the Moroccans abandoned many of these refugees in the desert without shelter or provisions, thus leaving them to certain death? And where, by the way, are the protests of the "Stop the Wall" activists, who oppose the Israeli border fence, when it comes to the European border facilities, adorned with barbed wire and razor blades, intended not to keep out suicide bombers but rather desperate economic refugees?

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the high humanitarian standard that the Europeans parade about so demonstratively applies only so long as their own interests are not affected. In that case, they transgress against [the standard] without compunction. Maxeiner&Miersch have compiled a small exhibit from the European list of sins in this connection.

One of the external articles he links to reports on criticism of the U.N.'s anti-terror policies by a center-left politician Ehrhart Körting (Interior Senator for Berlin from the SPD). Here it is:

Körting: U.N. Violates Human Rights

24. December, 1:55 PM

Berlin's Interior Senator Körting accuses the U.N. of human rights violations. One a person is registered as a terror suspect, there is no chance to defend onesself.

Ehrhart Körting (SPD), the interior senator of Berlin, has accused the United Nations of human rights violations in the world-wide search for terrorists. For people who are entered on the U.N. lists as terror suspects, there is "insufficient legal protection", said Körting to the Tagesspiegel. Being placed on this list is tantamount to a "verdict". The bank accounts of such a person are locked, without the chance for appeal at the United Nations.

Since the end of 2001, the U.N. Security Council keeps a list of terror suspects. The lists are continuously kept up-to-date with the help of German intelligence officials. According to the Tagesspiegel, actual suspects are listed there, but also people who purely coincidentally bear the same name.

Banks, government offices, and even the employment office help in the identification [of the suspects]. "There is no legal opportunity to have one's name removed from the list", said Körting. This violates the principle of human worth, which is enshrined in the U.N. Charter. The Federal Government therefore must lobby for the preservation of legal protection.