Here at the RESIST CARDIAC ARREST Campaign we support the old adage that the pen is mightier than the sword, or perhaps these days we should say: “The pen-drive is mightier than the sawn-off” – anyway, dialogue is, or should be, at the heart of Democracy, and a lot of what people romantically call ‘activism’ boils down to simply putting in a lot of hours at the clacking keyboard as an anonymous scribe, churning out a river of surging words. . . Let’s saunter over to the filing cabinet and take a look at a typical case in point…. Take this case for example…. The Case of the Great British UNCAT Hoax… and how a meddling amateur hack stumbled into a shadowy world of political deception, torture and subterfuge, centred around an Amerikan company selling a particularly ghastly form of weaponry to avid arms-dealers around the World….. Well, enough of my musings, let’s pour a strong coffee, light up a camel and see what’s in that file, shall we…..?
E-mail to Jeremy Corbyn sent 8th January 2013: firstname.lastname@example.org
To: The Rt.Hon Jeremy Corbyn, M.P.
Dear Mr Corbyn,
RE: UNCAT / ARTICLE 22 / UK
On 23rd November 2012 I sent you a registered letter concerning the above, and how it relates to the phenomenon of taser-torture in our country. Being a little concerned at not yet having received any reply, I include the body of my letter in this e-mail.
With best wishes, Jeremy Schanche, RESIST CARDIAC ARREST
“Open Letter To: The Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn, MP, House of Commons, Westminster LONDON SW1A 0AA.
Dear Mr Corbyn, 23rd November, 2012
Re: UNCAT / ARTICLE 22 / UK
Five years ago today, the UN declared the use of the taser stun-gun to constitute a form of torture and thus a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
It is my belief that the UNCAT is in need of ratification by the U.K., as I hope to make clear to you. I know that it is normal procedure to petition ones local MP but following a lengthy correspondence with my MP, Andrew George, it is obvious that he is not minded to get involved in this particular controversy. Having seen your name on the ‘Defend the Right to Protest’ petition, I take it that you have a genuine interest in Justice.
Due to the gravity of this matter, as it is indeed a matter of life and death, I hoped I could make my case to you, and present certain facts that I believe have a bearing on the British Justice system. If you do not feel you can take up this case, I would be very grateful for any advice about anyone who might be interested to discuss it further.
I have founded a campaign called RESIST CARDIAC ARREST, which is opposed to the use of tasers and stun-guns. The death-toll in USA and Canada from taser-type weapons currently stands at 758. In Britain, 3 deaths have been attributed to taser-use. The ‘Stun-Gun’ evolved from a simple electric cattle-prod, used in the slaughter-houses of Argentina, before first being used to torture humans (political prisoners) in Latin America in the ‘30’s.
When studying the taser phenomenon, I discovered that a recent death in police-custody in Portugal had led to a UN investigation. Following this, the UN Committee Against Torture released statements on 23rd November 2007 concluding that the effect of tasers “on the physical and mental state of targeted persons would appear to violate Articles 1 and 16 of the Convention [on Torture]”. Tasers were further described by the U.N. committee as “a form of torture”; that “can even provoke death”.
The Committee Against Torture recommended to the Portuguese government that their police force cease the use of the taser x-26, but the Committee lacks the power to enforce its decisions upon national governments and the taser remains in use in Portugal. As I understand it, a similar legal contradiction hangs over the status of the taser in this country and many others. Essentially, the UN regard it as a lethal torture device, but even though Britain signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1985, nobody in the British government seems to have ever dealt with this glaring failure of policy to uphold and embody the intentions of the UNCAT.
As part of my campaigning work against the use of these lethal and agonizing devices, I have attempted to initiate dialogue with various authorities concerned. I have contacted my local Chief Constable, Police Authority, The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Attorney General, asking them if they could explain to me how a device designated by the U.N. as an instrument of torture can be legally used in a nation that is signatory to the UNCAT. Sadly, I have not had a straight answer from any of them, as apparently none of them can give me such an answer. Of all the aforementioned authorities, I believe the function of the Attorney General is to deal with legal matters concerning government policy.
Ostensibly the purpose of a stun gun is to temporarily disable someone until they can be arrested. Amnesty International has documented many cases of suspects already in handcuffs, sometimes in cells being ‘tasered’. This is blatant torture, however most of the documented cases occurred in the USA. The taser is routinely used specifically for torture in many oppressive regimes. A local taser incident aroused my interest recently. At a royal wedding street party in Falmouth on 29th April 2011, a young man named Stefan Naumczyk threw a bottle to the ground where it shattered, reportedly in the direction of some policemen. What happened next was filmed and published in the media – Stefan Naumczyk was surrounded by at least five policemen, tasered, knelt on by a large policeman and handcuffed. Having subdued and incapacitated the suspect, one of the policemen then gave him a further 50,000 volt blast of his taser x-26 – the very model indicted by the Committee Against Torture, when it made its statement in Lisbon on 23rd November 2007.
Having seen the film of this event, it struck me as a very blatant case of taser-abuse constituting an act of torture, as the second taser blast, on a handcuffed man, served no purpose other than summary and cruel punishment. I decided to pursue this matter further and having had a fruitless correspondence with the government and police, I wrote to the U.N.’s High Commissioner For Human Rights, in Geneva, asking them to investigate the case of Stefan Naumczyk, as I believed he had suffered torture in the U.K. and I wanted to know how to make moves towards seeing the UNCAT properly upheld here in Britain.
I got a reply from the UNHCHR informing me that they could not get involved in the case – I quote the letter:
“The Committee against Torture cannot examine petitions alleging violations of the Convention against Torture (CAT) unless the State has made the declaration under article 22 recognizing the Committee’s competence to receive and consider petitions. The United Kingdom has not made the declaration.”
So it would seem from the above that although Britain’s Thatcher government signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1985, they failed to sign the declaration attached to Article 22 of the Convention, thereby rendering the Convention a mere verbal one, impossible to be actually applied within our nation!
Interestingly, just before the last election, when I received letters from Nick Clegg, Andrew George, and other politicians of various hues affirming that they would uphold the UNCAT, none of them pointed out to me that it cannot be applied in Great Britain. Had I not contacted the U.N. directly, I would never have discovered this fact which, in my opinion, makes a rather cynical mockery of the idea of the rule of law.
I don’t think many people are aware that the U.N. views taser usage as torture, and I think even fewer people know that the anti-torture legislation is inapplicable in Britain, despite signing the UNCAT back in 1985. Current Home Office policy is to increase the arming of police with taser stun guns, I believe the plan is that eventually almost all police will routinely carry them. I think that a proper and thorough application of the extant anti-torture legislation would lead to a total ban on these torture-devices. Surely an instrument of torture cannot be condoned and passively accepted in a society such as ours, that ostensibly condemns torture. Therefore I think this argument needs to be pursued and brought to the attention of those with the power to change policy and uphold justice.
I am also convinced that the State of Great Britain owes it to the People of Great Britain to sign Article 22 of the UNCAT and thus prove that the government is in fact sincere in its stated wish to eradicate torture from this nation. Incidentally, I have received written statements from the Green Party and Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish party, saying that they agree with me that the taser x-26 and similar weapons constitute a violation of the UNCAT.
If there is any way you can help forward this matter I would be extremely grateful. Also, if there is any other person, department or organization who you think would cooperate or make a contribution to this effort, I would be very happy for you to copy this letter to them. If I can provide you with any further information I will be very happy to do so.
A taser-free world would be an infinitely better world and any progress in any individual nation towards the elimination of torture helps show other nations a way forward. Death and torture by electricity is an increasing global scourge of our times and needs to be abolished and consigned to history, like other barbarous manifestations of human cruelty.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Schanche, RESIST CARDIAC ARREST.”
Since writing to you on November 23rd, the American taser death toll has risen from 758 to 766.