[R-G] Robert Ménard, of Reporters without Borders, follows in Washington’s steps and legitimizes torture
fentona at shaw.ca
Sat Sep 15 22:56:52 MDT 2007
Sept. 4, 2007
Robert Ménard, of Reporters without Borders, follows in Washington’s
steps and legitimizes torture
Edited by Caty R.
Robert Ménard, secretary general of the Parisian organization
Reporters without Borders (RSF) since 1985, is a professional media
figure who claims to defend “freedom of the press” and wraps himself
with in a humanist discourse greatly appreciated by public opinion.
Thanks to the collusion of the media, Ménard has become an
unavoidable figure in the world of the press.
Nonetheless, his actions don’t meet with unanimous approval. The
flagrant lack of impartiality which RSF shows has been criticized
many times. The French organization financed by economic and
financial corporations as well as by the United States, as its
secretary general has publicly admitted, has carried out media
campaigns curiously similar to the political agenda of the White
House. Thus RSF, with the pretext of defending freedom of the press,
has repeatedly shown no mercy with Cuba (1), supported the coup
d’etat against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in April 2002 (2),
implicitly approved the bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003 (3) and
legitimized the coup d’etat against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
in Haiti (4). Now, RSF carries out a spectacular media campaign
against China and the Olympic Games in Beijing (5).
The ideological similarity between RSF and the Bush administration is
evident to the extent that one questions what Robert Menard’s true
objectives really are. The scandals of Guantánamo, Abu Graib and the
CIA’s secret jails throughout the world have shown that U.S. troops
don’t hesitate to use torture to obtain their goals. The entire
international community has unanimously condemned these inhuman and
In October 2006 the U.S. Congress took the first step and approved a
law that legalizes torture, a flagrant violation of the very
principles of democracy. The Republican majority as well as several
elected Democrats of the House of Representatives and Senate
authorized the use of evidence obtained under torture against the
“illegal enemy combatant.” The text, titled “law of military
commissions, 2006,” recognizes the existence of secret courts to
judge any alien suspected of attacking United States interests. The
defendant won’t have access to a lawyer or know the charges against
him. Additionally, the evidence presented against him will remain
secret. Or course, he will also be detained without the right to be
brought before a judge, and all of that indefinitely. He will not be
able to denounce the illegality of his detention or the torture he
might have been the victim of (6).
The law also gives the U.S. president “the authority to interpret the
meaning and the application of the Geneva conventions” which
prohibits torture. These will not be able to be used “as a source of
law before any court of the United States.” Section V of the law
stipulates, “no person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any
protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or
proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former
officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the
United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the
United States or its States or territories.” Additionally, “No court,
justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an
application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an
alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the
United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or
is awaiting such determination.” (7)
Not only is this law poisonous to freedom, essentially totalitarian,
it represents a threat for any citizen of the world who isn’t a
citizen of the United States, but grants complete impunity to those
responsible for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The European
Union and France in particular have maintained a scandalous silence
with respect to this law. What would have happened if China, Cuba,
Iran, Russia or Venezuela had adopted a similar law? Who can still
speak of the United States as of a model of democracy?
During the radio program “Contre-expertise” hosted by Xavier de la
Porte on France Culture, August 16, 2007, Robert Ménard, the self-
proclaimed defender of human rights and journalists, followed the
steps of his sponsors and legitimized the use of torture, saying some
extremely alarming things. Evoking the murder of U.S. journalist
Daniel Pearl, he emphasized that it was legitimate to torture
suspects in order to save the life of innocents, reviving the
argument of the most horrifying dictatorships and, of course, of the
Ménard goes further since he legitimizes even torture against family
members of those kidnapped, or perhaps against the innocent. “If my
daughter were kidnapped, there would be no limit, I’m telling you,
I’m telling you, there would be no limit on torture.” Here is an
extract of what the secretary general of RSF said:
“The Pakistani police kidnap families, listen to me, families of
the kidnappers and torture these families of those kidnappers in
order to obtain information.
They are going to obtain information. They will arrive too late to
save Daniel. Do you know how his throat was cut and under what
Where do we stop? Shall we accept this logic that consists of… since
we could do it in some cases, ‘you kidnap, we kidnap; you mistreat,
we mistreat; you torture, we torture …?’
What justifies…? Perhaps in order to free somebody, can we go there?
It is a real question.
That is real life, it is that, what François just said: we are no
longer in ideas, it is war, we are no longer dealing with principals.
I don’t what to think. Because this happens to Marianne Pearl, I’m
not saying, I’m not saying that they made a mistake because she
thought that it was appropriate to do it, that it was necessary to do
that, that her husband had to be saved, she was pregnant.. for the
sake of the baby that was going to be born, everything was permitted.
And it was absolutely necessary to save him and if it was necessary
to attack a certain number of people, they had to attack a certain
number of people, physically attack them, you understand, threatening
them and torturing them, even though we might have to kill some.
I don’ know, I am lost. Because sometimes I don’t know where you have
to stop, where you have to put on the brakes. What is acceptable and
what is unacceptable? And at the same time, for the families of those
that were kidnapped, because many times they are the people we talk
to first, in Reporters without Borders; legitimately, I, if my
daughter were kidnapped there would be no limit, I tell you, I tell
you, there would be no limit on torture”(9).
How can one try to defend human rights when a practice as abominable
and inhuman as torture is justified? What remains of Robert Menard’s
and Reporters without Border’s credibility – the two are so
intimately connected that it is impossible to disassociate them—when
they justify the unjustifiable? The secretary general of RSF showed
his true face. He doesn’t defend freedom of the press but the hateful
practices of the CIA. But, is it really surprising when it is
financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (10), which is no
more than an Agency front according to the New York Times? (11)
(1) Salim Lamrani, «Reporteros Sin Fronteras y sus contradicciones»,
Rebelión, 27 de septiembre de 2006, http://www.rebelion.org/
noticia.php?id=38136 (sitio consultado el 2 de septiembre de 2007);
Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «Lettre ouverte à ses détracteurs», Réseau
Voltaire, 12 de septiembre de 2006. http://www.voltairenet.org/
var_recherche=Reporters%20sans%20frontières (sitio consultado el 12
de septiembre de 2006).
(2) Salim Lamrani, «La guerra de desinformación de Reporteros Sin
Fronteras contra Venezuela», Rebelión, 6 de febrero de 2007, http://
www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=46082 (sitio consultado el 2
septiembre de 2007); Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «Un journaliste a été
tué, trois autres ont été blessés et cinq chaînes de télévision
brièvement suspendues», 12 de abril de 2002. www.rsf.org/article.php3?
id_article=1109 (sitio consultado el 13 noviembre 2006).
(3) Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «Irak – rapport annuel 2004». http://
www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=9884 (sitio consultado el 18 de
julio de 2005) ; Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «La liberté de la presse
retrouvée: un espoir à entretenir», julio 2004. www.rsf.org/
article.php3?id_article=10888 (sitio consultado el 23 de abril de 2005).
(4) Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «La liberté de la presse retrouvé : un
espoir à entretenir», julio de 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3?
id_article=10888 (sitio consultado el 23 de abril de 2005); Salim
Lamrani, «Reporteros Sin Fronteras con sus contradicciones», op. cit.
(5) Reporteros Sin Fronteras, «Pékin 2008. Chine: La plus grande
prison du monde pour les journalistes et les internautes», sin fecha.
http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=171 (sitio consultado el
2 de septiembre de 2007).
(6) Michel Muller, «Quand Washington légalise la torture»,
L’Humanité, 16 de octubre de 2006.
(8) Jean-Noël Darde, «Quand Robert Ménard, de RSF, légitime la
torture», 26 de agosto de 2007, http://rue89.com/2007/08/26/quand-
robert-menard-de-rsf-legitime-la-torture#transcript (sitio consultado
el 28 de agosto 2007).
(10) Robert Ménard, «Forum de discussion avec Robert Ménard», Le
Nouvel Observateur, 18 de abril de 2005. www.nouvelobs.com/forum/
archives/forum_284.html (sitio consultado el 22 de abril de 2005).
(11) John M. Broder, «Political Meddling by Outsiders: Not New for
U.S.», The New York Times, 31 de marzo de 1997, p. 1.
Salim Lamrani es profesor, escritor y periodista francés especialista
de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Ha publicado los
libros: Washington contre Cuba (Pantin: Le Temps des Cerises, 2005),
Cuba face à l’Empire (Genève: Timeli, 2006) y Fidel Castro, Cuba et
les Etats-Unis (Pantin: Le Temps des Cerises, 2006).
Caty R. pertenece a los colectivos de Rebelión, Tlaxcala y
Cubadebate. Esta traducción se puede reproducir libremente a
condición de respetar su integridad y mencionar al autor, la revisora
y la fuente.
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