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HUMAN RIGHTS, WOMEN AND GOVERNMENTAL IMMUNITY

February 29, 2012

Syria is now committing genocide on its own citizens. China refuses to join in sanctions against Syria on grounds that “we must have some respect for Syria’s sovereignty.” Soverignty to do what? Kill its own citizens? Since when do sovereign rights trump human rights? Likewise, when this is all sorted out, do we hold those in the Syrian government criminally liable for their wholesale murder of their own citizens? Since they were acting for their government, albeit deplorably, are they thereby rendered immune to prosecution before the International Court in The Hague? Clearly the answer must be in the negative, otherwise the whole idea of human rights is a meaningless phrase. Those Syrian officials ostensibly acting under sovereign right, like the Nazis, are war criminals and should be tried a la Nuremburg in The Hague. It is clear that the notion of sovereignty does not include any right  to ignore human rights, and it is inarguable that the right to exist is a human right. We should not be taken in by the Chinese pretense that sovereignty is somehow involved in this continuing  massacre. They are wrong, dead (in every sense of the word) wrong! Human rights are universal rights.

Syria is not the only venue where governmental officials are acting criminally under the cover of immunity (in this case, so far, only legislatively). It is happening in this country! It is happening in the state of Virginia, where the legislature is mandating rape of women by law via penetration of such women’s vaginas by rods in an unnecessary medical procedure and without the consent of the victims of such procedure. It is more than unconstitutional; it is a violation of these women’s human rights. It is clear to me that those who voted for such a law are criminals hiding under the cover of legislative immunity, but I think, that like the Syrian cabal in charge, they have no legal cover for this clear violation of women’s constitutional AND human rights. They are aiding and abetting the felony of rape and should not be shielded from prosecution for such reprehensible conduct by the abstraction of immunity for acts done in their official capacities, or, when acting criminally, for any other reason.

An argument can be made that legislative immunity to parking tickets and the like while the legislature is in session is a good idea; and a similarly good argument can be made that legislators should be immune to civil suit for defamation for statements made on the legislative floor, all reasonably designed to advance the free and open exchange of views required to further advance the democratic goals of government. However, immunity to civil suit does not include a right to commit the felony of aiding and abetting rape or conspiring to commit such a felony, and it cannot be argued that a legislative privilege of immunity trumps the constitutional AND human rights of women. Legislatures should be in the business of penalizing rape, not giving it legal cover. Like Syrian sovereignty, legislative immunity has its limits, and criminal acts (or even civil acts) committed by such legislators in derogation of women’s rights under the Constitution  and/or their human rights under the United Nations Charter cannot be tolerated.

The prosecutor who has jurisdiction of such criminal conduct in Virginia should act. The facts are matters of public record and are well known, so that is not in issue. The only real issue will be how the court rules on the legislative defendants’ motion to dismiss on grounds of immunity. I hope that the ruling on such a pretrial motion can be appealed to higher courts for a definitive ruling at the appellate level, because this travesty is beyond mere overreaching; it is criminal and needs to see the glare of publicity in the worst way. GERALD E

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