Hillary Clinton will make a major address in the ancient Polish city of Krakow on Saturday encouraging the global movement for democracy. Her host will be the Community of Democracies, a European NGO created in 2000 by Madeleine Albright and Poland’s then foreign minister to nurture democracies in Eastern Europe and the world. Here is the mission of the group:
We seek a community of nations working together to strengthen democracy…and [we seek] transparency of government processes, sound electoral systems, respect for human rights and the rule of law, active civic education, prevention of official corruption and related core values basic to democratic governance. Our aim is to foster awareness of the importance of democracy both as a central organizing principle of official government foreign policy and as the basis of international alliances of non-governmental organizations devoted to the strengthening of democracy…We are convinced the time has arrived for the democracies of the world to build upon the experience of…[the UN and NATO], a new institutional framework for global cooperation among democratic nations and those who aspire to govern themselves in accordance with democratic principles.
The State Department’s human rights guru, Michael Posner, talked about the opportunity her speech presents for Secretary Clinton:
“It’s a meeting of…governments, representatives of civil society, and…very much in keeping with the President and Secretary Clinton’s commitment to democracy promotion and principled engagement,” he said. “The Secretary’s speech will focus on human rights and, in particular, on the role of civil society.”
This will be an opportunity for us both to articulate in a public context, but also in a setting where governments committed to democracy and civil society gather, to try to strategize and figure out ways to advance promotion of democracy globally.
How, I might ask, will she address the egregious violations of human rights by Israel in the recent Gaza flotilla attack and the latest series of Shin Bet attacks on Israeli Palestinian civil society NGOs in the person of the arrest, torture and prosecution for espionage of Ameer Makhoul? One wonders why in the most recent State Department country report there is no mention of Israel’s systematic violation of the human rights not only of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, but of its own Palestinian citizens.
The latest news from the Makhoul trial is that his attorneys discovered that all seven of the meetings the authorities permitted them to have with their client were illegally bugged by prison authorities. In the Israeli legal system, the accused is allowed to consult with his counsel without interference by the State. This rule was violated by Makhoul’s guards who prevented them from communicating directly and confidentially:
In the letter [of protest] to the AG, the lawyers argued that every detainee is entitled to the right to legal counsel…This right requires that meetings be held in…conditions that enable direct communication between them. This means that they should not be separated, their conversations should not be recorded or listened in on, and it should be possible for lawyers to exchange documents relevant to the legal proceedings with their client.The lawyers argued that…there was no possibility for them to discuss the investigation materials and evidence, that they did not have a chance to explain their legal strategy to Mr. Makhoul, and could not discuss issues related to the defense preparation with him, which by nature should be confidential. These conditions violate provision 45 of the Prisons Ordinance, which states that, “A prisoner is entitled to meet his lawyer in order to receive professional service. A prisoner will meet his lawyer privately, and under conditions that secure the confidentiality of discussions and documents that will be exchanged in the meeting, but in a way that enables supervision of the prisoner’s movements.” The lawyers also argued that the conditions were in breach of the Israel Bar Association Law and to the Evidence Ordinance regarding the confidentiality rules applied to lawyer-client consultations, and that wiretapping of such conversations is a criminal offence under paragraph 2 of the Israeli Wiretapping Law.
I would love to see a few demonstrators outside the elegant old castle where the Krakow meeting will be held raising aloft Ameer Makhoul’s photograph with the legend: “Hillary’s prisoner of conscience.” When will the U.S. apply to Israel standards it is encouraging both at this meeting and among the world’s nascent democracies? When will it demand accountability, transparency and the rule of law for all Israel’s citizens? When will it demand that the security services be reigned in so that they do not run roughshod over the rights of citizens, whether they be Jewish or Arab? When will Michael Posner allow Israel’s country report to tell the truth about conditions there?