By Ray O’Hanlon
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, drew a humanitarian line in the sand during a recent award ceremony in Washington.
Citing the example of the extradition case in London against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Robinson warned that the world was becoming a smaller place for those who tried to hide from the consequences of their violent actions.
"The message of a year of proceedings in the Pinochet case and of today’s historic ruling is clear, — those who commit, order or tolerate torture can no longer be sure of a peaceful retirement," Robinson said.
Ireland’s former president was accepting the Fulbright Prize, a $50,000 award that recognizes recipients for contributions to international peace and understanding. Robinson said that she would donate the money to the U.N.’s Decade for Human Rights Education program.
In stark contrast to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Robinson said she welcomed the recent British court extradition ruling that will allow Pinochet to be tried in Spain on charges of torture.
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"Survivors of human rights abuses the world over can take heart in knowing that impunity for torture and other human rights violations is no longer the norm, even when those responsible are the highest representatives of the state," Robinson said.