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South Africa - Criminal Injustice System & part of CIA's Global Torture Network

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  • Cort Greene
    http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1575 New Report Reveals CIA s Global Torture Network 18 Feb 2013 [image: Email this
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      http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1575

      New Report Reveals CIA's Global Torture Network
      18 Feb 2013
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      Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PkSCYFyN8hg

      Snatching people off the streets. Hanging people from the ceiling. A man
      freezing to death alone on a concrete floor. This is the story of how the
      United States used its position to cajole, persuade and strong-arm 54 other
      countries to take part in the CIA�s post-9/11 campaign of secret detention
      and torture. The Open Society Justice Initiative has released a 216-page
      report, �Globalising Torture� that exposes the extent of detentions and
      torture carried out in the name of keeping Americans safe.

      South Africa is one of the countries that participated in this global
      programme of detention and torture. The report states, �South Africa was
      implicated in the March 2003 extraordinary rendition of Saud Memon, a
      Pakistani national and suspect in the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. In
      light of the secrecy associated with the abduction and the lack of any
      record in South Africa of his deportation or extradition, it appears that
      South Africa gave U.S. intelligence agencies �carte blanche� to pursue his
      abduction and rendition from South Africa.

      Download the report, �Globalising
      Torture�.<http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/globalizing-torture-cia-secret-detention-and-extraordinary-rendition>

      *Editor's Note*: Also watch Democracy Now�s Amy Goodman read out the names
      of all 54 countries involved in co-operating with the CIA
      <http://youtu.be/ZpPrDydpEoU>on
      its torture programme. You might also be interested in "Zero Dark Thirty:
      OK, It's Evil, But Is It Any
      Good?"<http://www.alternet.org/culture/zero-dark-thirty-ok-its-evil-it-any-good>
      from
      Alternet.

      -----------------------------------

      http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1574

      The Criminal Injustice System
      By Jane Duncan <http://sacsis.org.za/s/stories.php?iUser=48> � 18 Feb 2013
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      At the end of January, an all too familiar pattern of events played itself
      out in the Pinetown Magistrate�s Court in Durban. Four member of the shack
      dwellers� movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, were arrested after a protest
      against problematic practices in a housing development in KwaNdengezi. They
      were accused of public violence, robbery, damage to property, and assault
      with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

      Charges were withdrawn against three in court, with the exception of public
      violence. Abahlali has described the case as political and not criminal,
      as their activism is challenging entrenched interests in the area. They
      maintain that the charges against their members have been fabricated, and
      that the flimsiness of the remaining charges will emerge once the matter
      returns to court.

      Meanwhile, in Makause, on the East Rand of Gauteng, three activists were
      arrested in October last year and are due to appear in court next month, in
      spite of the fact that, four months after their arrest, no formal charges
      have been put to them.

      The likely charge appears to be intimidation. One of the activists
      apparently mentioned the Marikana massacre in a meeting to discuss an
      intended march against police violence. Two activists were then
      subsequently arrested for wearing T-shirts in support of the massacred
      workers at Marikana, and one of them (a woman) was stripped of her T-shirt
      and made to stand semi-naked in the police station. So the available
      evidence points to the police having taken offence to the references to
      Marikana, and this has formed the basis for the arrests.

      Time will tell if the cases against these activists have any substance. But
      if similar, previous cases are anything to go by, that they are likely to
      be baseless.

      Many citizens look to the criminal justice system for redress when they are
      victims of crime and other social ills, and so they should. Their
      expectation is that the system exists to deter crime and punish offenders,
      and will mete out justice impartially, without fear or favour. The system
      is also expected to mount a substantial case against accused persons, who
      are meant to enjoy protections against abuses of the system, particularly
      by its investigatory and prosecutorial arms.

      But there are signs that - in situations where outspoken critics challenge
      the power of politicians - the system can be turned against political
      critics. The politicisation of the system is highly uneven: many police
      officers and prosecutors conduct their work impartially, and with
      integrity. But it is also apparent that political manipulation is a growing
      problem.

      The recent attempt by the National Prosecuting Authority to charge the
      arrested Marikana miners with the murder of their own comrades under the
      apartheid-era common purpose doctrine, is possibly the most visible and
      shocking example of this trend. But there are many other, less well
      publicised, examples.

      These abuses are most noticeable in the investigatory arm of the system.
      Many bogus criminal cases, cooked up by members of the police under the
      sway of local politicians, are caught when the matters go to court, and
      judges often unleash stinging rebukes against the police and prosecutors
      involved.

      Public violence and illegal gatherings are the most commonly used charges.
      The familiar cycle is as follows. A protest occurs over a specific
      grievance, which may or may not be �legal�. If the protest is �illegal�, it
      is generally because the protestors have notified the municipality of their
      intention to march, and the protest has been prohibited on unlawful
      grounds, or because the protestors did not notify the municipality as they
      know it will be prohibited or severely proscribed.

      Alternatively, protestors may embark on other forms of direct action like
      road blockades, after becoming sick and tired of holding march after march
      where their memoranda of grievances are simply deposited into a municipal
      bin.

      If the protest turns violent, it is often in response to police violence
      against what is generally a peaceful protest. In anger, the protestors run
      amuck, attacking property and even people. The police then use the events
      as an excuse to target prominent activists who are considered
      �troublemakers�, whether they were directly involved in the violence or
      not. They may even have attempted to prevent the violence. If they are
      arrested after the fact, then their arrests are likelier to happen towards
      the end of the week, to stretch their detention over the weekend before
      appearing in court.

      As in the Makause case, the charges may be left deliberately unclear,
      making it impossible for the activists� legal representatives to prepare
      adequately. The state generally applies for postponement after
      postponement, claiming that its case is not ready, which ties the activists
      up in court appearances for months, only for the charges to be dropped for
      lack of evidence. By that stage, great damage has often been done to their
      lives.

      As evidence leaders, prosecutors may be too busy to question to integrity
      of the police evidence, or they may actively facilitate the police strategy
      to keep the activists behind bars by any means necessary.

      Some activists cannot afford bail. But if they can, then another
      increasingly common technique is to seek stringent bail conditions to
      prevent activists from continuing their organising work, and magistrates -
      inexperienced in constitutional matters - often simply accept the word of
      the state prosecutor.

      For instance, in Grahamstown in 2011, after a protest that resulted in
      community members digging up a road in Phaphamani, Unemployed Peoples�
      Movement and Womens� Social Forum activists were given bail conditions that
      effectively banned them from political activity, including organising or
      even participating in marches. The charges against the activists were
      dropped a year later.

      Sometimes, bail may be refused on spurious grounds. In the same year,
      Thembelihle activist Bayi-Bayi Miya was arrested on charges of public
      violence and intimidation for leading protests in the area, in spite of the
      fact that Miya had in fact attempted to stop the violence. Other residents
      were arrested too. The state opposed Miya�s bail successfully in the
      magistrate�s court, and the police kept him in �preventative detention� to
      stop him from organising any more protests.

      The Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI), representing Miya in the South
      Gauteng High Court, argued that the state�s charges against him were so
      weak that he would almost certainly be acquitted. They challenged
      successfully the magistrate�s decision to allow the detention and deny
      bail, but only after Miya had spent a month behind bars. Last year, the
      case against the other residents was struck from the roll for lack of
      evidence after seven months and nine postponements, leading SERI to
      conclude that the case against their clients was, in fact, political.

      Then there are the cases which strongly suggest that evidence against
      activists has been manufactured for political reasons. A key witness in
      Miya�s case emerged only 22 days after he was alleged to have uttered a
      threat to burn her house down � in spite of her claiming to fear for her
      life - and her statement was so weak that nothing of significance could be
      deduced from it.

      In 2009, members of Abahlali baseMjondolo were arrested on murder charges
      following an armed attack on members in Kennedy Road informal settlement,
      in an attempt to rout them out of the settlement.

      The charges were eventually dismissed after the judge found contradictions
      in the state�s case. Several of the witnesses were unsatisfactory, and the
      judge questioned their truthfulness after it emerged in testimony that
      witnesses had been coached to point out members of an Abahlali-affiliated
      dance group, rather than just the perpetrators.

      The democratic South African state still enjoys huge legitimacy; after all,
      it is only two decades since many struggled and died to bring it into
      being. But, by politicising the criminal justice system, the police and
      politicians are sowing the wind.

      Once the veneer of impartiality is stripped from the criminal justice
      system, and it becomes exposed for what it truly is when the chips are down
      - namely the repressive apparatus of the ruling political class � then the
      state will lose its legitimacy. Struggles could move beyond localised
      fights with non-performing councillors and escalate in a struggle against
      this political class and even the state itself. Then they will have a
      protracted fight on their hands that, in the long term, they cannot
      possibly win.
      *Professor Duncan* is Highway Africa Chair of Media and Information
      Society, School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.

      Read more articles by Jane Duncan<http://sacsis.org.za/s/stories.php?iUser=48>
      .

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