The disregard of human rights in America and Europe

United Nations Human Rights Council

United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council confirmed that human rights violations have taken place in America and some European countries
The Guardian wrote that the United Nations announced in its latest report that America, England, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Macedonia have violated human rights under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The Guardian alluded to America’s terrifying prisons in Guantanamo and Abu Ghrayb and wrote that the transfer of prisoners to secret prisons in Europe was not possible without the cooperation of the governments in England, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Macedonia.

The United Nations also stated in this report that the physical and mental tortures in these prisons are clear violations of human rights and international treaties.

Islam Times

My expulsion from Israel

When I arrived in Israel as a UN representative I knew there might be problems at the airport. And there were – Richard Falk.

un-richard-falk-special-rapporteur-onhr-palestina1

On December 14, I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, in Tel Aviv, Israel to carry out my UN role as special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.

I was leading a mission that had intended to visit the West Bank and Gaza to prepare a report on Israel’s compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law. Meetings had been scheduled on an hourly basis during the six days, starting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, the following day.

I knew that there might be problems at the airport. Israel had strongly opposed my appointment a few months earlier and its foreign ministry had issued a statement that it would bar my entry if I came to Israel in my capacity as a UN representative.

At the same time, I would not have made the long journey from California, where I live, had I not been reasonably optimistic about my chances of getting in. Israel was informed that I would lead the mission and given a copy of my itinerary, and issued visas to the two people assisting me: a staff security person and an assistant, both of whom work at the office of the high commissioner of human rights in Geneva.

To avoid an incident at the airport, Israel could have either refused to grant visas or communicated to the UN that I would not be allowed to enter, but neither step was taken. It seemed that Israel wanted to teach me, and more significantly, the UN a lesson: there will be no cooperation with those who make strong criticisms of Israel’s occupation policy.

After being denied entry, I was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems. At this point, I was treated not as a UN representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed.

I was separated from my two UN companions who were allowed to enter Israel and taken to the airport detention facility a mile or so away. I was required to put all my bags and cell phone in a room and taken to a locked tiny room that smelled of urine and filth. It contained five other detainees and was an unwelcome invitation to claustrophobia. I spent the next 15 hours so confined, which amounted to a cram course on the miseries of prison life, including dirty sheets, inedible food and lights that were too bright or darkness controlled from the guard office.

Of course, my disappointment and harsh confinement were trivial matters, not by themselves worthy of notice, given the sorts of serious hardships that millions around the world daily endure. Their importance is largely symbolic. I am an individual who had done nothing wrong beyond express strong disapproval of policies of a sovereign state. More importantly, the obvious intention was to humble me as a UN representative and thereby send a message of defiance to the United Nations.

Israel had all along accused me of bias and of making inflammatory charges relating to the occupation of Palestinian territories. I deny that I am biased, but rather insist that I have tried to be truthful in assessing the facts and relevant law. It is the character of the occupation that gives rise to sharp criticism of Israel’s approach, especially its harsh blockade of Gaza, resulting in the collective punishment of the 1.5 million inhabitants. By attacking the observer rather than what is observed, Israel plays a clever mind game. It directs attention away from the realities of the occupation, practising effectively a politics of distraction.

The blockade of Gaza serves no legitimate Israeli function. It is supposedly imposed in retaliation for some Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets that have been fired across the border at the Israeli town of Sderot. The wrongfulness of firing such rockets is unquestionable, yet this in no way justifies indiscriminate Israeli retaliation against the entire civilian population of Gaza.

The purpose of my reports is to document on behalf of the UN the urgency of the situation in Gaza and elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Such work is particularly important now as there are signs of a renewed escalation of violence and even of a threatened Israeli reoccupation.

Before such a catastrophe happens, it is important to make the situation as transparent as possible, and that is what I had hoped to do in carrying out my mission. Although denied entry, my effort will continue to use all available means to document the realities of the Israeli occupation as truthfully as possible.

• Richard Falk is professor of international law at Princeton University and the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories

An Israeli in Palestine

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is an American-born Israeli Professor of Anthropology as well as a peace and human rights activist for over three decades. In 1997, he co-founded the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), and as its Coordinating Director “organized and led nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against Israel’s occupation policies and authorities.”

ICAHD’s mission is now expanded well beyond home demolitions. It helps rebuild them and resists “land expropriation, settlement expansion, by-pass road construction, policies of ‘closure’ and ‘separation,” and much more. Its aim is simple, yet hard to achieve – to end decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict equitably and return the region to peace. For his work, Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Besides his full-time work, he writes many articles, position papers, and authored several books. His latest and subject of this review is An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel. Israeli-based journalist Jonathan Cook (jkcook.net) authored two insightful books on the conflict that are highly recommended. Information can be found on his web site and much more. He calls Halper’s book “one of the most insightful analyses of the Occupation I’ve read. His voice cries out to be heard” on the region’s longest and most intractable conflict.

Halper is a “critical insider” and insightful commentator of events on the ground that he witnesses first hand. This review covers his analysis in-depth – in two parts for easier reading. It exposes Israeli repression and proposes remedial solutions. It provides another invaluable resource on the conflict’s cause, history, why it continues, and a just and equitable resolution.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Judge Orders Release of Uighurs at Guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay

U.S. human rights and civil rights groups lauded a federal court decision Tuesday that orders the release of 17 Muslim minority Chinese men who have been held without charges for seven years at the infamous U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But despite the praise of the organisations, it is uncertain whether the decision will actually mean freedom for the detainees anytime soon.

The ruling is the latest in a string of rebukes by the federal judiciary of Pres. George W. Bush’s detention policies of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. naval base leased from the Cuban government.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina calls for the government to end its detention of the men, Chinese Uighurs who were arrested in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion there, and bring them before U.S. courts to address their status in habeas corpus lawsuits.

‘I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention,’ Urbina said, contending that the continued detention of the men was no longer lawful since they lost their status as enemy combatants.

In June, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. military improperly labeled Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Muslim held at Guantanamo Bay, an ‘enemy combatant’. The court ordered that he be released, transferred, or granted a new hearing.

Nonetheless, Parhat and his 16 associated have remained behind bars, embroiled in controversies over where to send the men, who said that they had initially fled Western China for Afghanistan because of government pressure and would likely face persecution and possibly torture if they were released to Chinese authorities.

But Tuesday’s ruling gives some hope to rights groups that the detainees will finally be released into the U.S. for a hearing before Urbina next week.

‘This is a landmark decision that represents a stinging rejection of the Bush administration’s unconstitutional Guantanamo policies. The situation facing the Uighurs is a stark reminder of the legal and moal quagmire Guantanamo,’ said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in a statement.

‘The judge was right to rule that this kind of detention is unlawful because the Constitution prohibits indefinite imprisonment without any charges,’ he said.

But some of the rights groups remained cautious and urged the government to act quickly to release the Uighur detainees.

‘The government should not drag its feet, but should immediately release these men from their unlawful confinement at Guantanamo,’ said the senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal.

In a release from Amnesty International, the organisation said that it was ‘thrilled’ by the ruling, but noted that past rulings from federal courts have fallen on deaf ears within the Bush administration.

‘Today’s decision is a huge victory for the rule of law and fundamental liberties,’ said Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. ‘However, this decision will mean little to the detainees if it is ignored, as other court opinions have been in practice by the Bush administration.’

‘How many times does the Bush administration need to be told that detainees are entitled to essential rights?’ continued Cox. ‘All the remaining detainees in Guantanamo Bay must be either charged and tried or released immediately.’

Despite the pleas and insistence from the rights groups, the Bush Justice Department appears unlikely to cooperate fully with the order.

A lawyer for the department, John O’Quinn, asked the judge to stay the order so that the government could consider filing an appeal, but Urbina rejected the request and announced his intention to release the detainees to Uighur families living in the Washington area.

O’Quinn suggested that existing laws may force the government to take the Uighur detainees into immigration custody if they enter the United States because they are, the administration alleges, tied to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uighur separatist group that Washington says has links to al Qaeda.

Urbina reportedly reacted angrily to the Justice Departments apparent intentions.

‘All of this means more delay, and delay is the name of the game up until this point,’ he said, insisting that the government leave the Uighurs alone and that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security would be afforded opportunities to make their views clear in next week’s hearing.

The alleged involvement of the Uighurs in Guantanamo with the separatists’ movement is what initially spurred their detention by the U.S. even though they claimed that they were not in Afghanistan as anti-U.S. fighters but rather to escape harsh treatment by the Chinese authorities.

The alleged connection to al Qaeda is what initially got the Uighurs the ‘enemy combatant’ status that the U.S. used to detain prisoners strictly under the authority of the executive branch.

But in the summer case of Parhat, the government conceded that while the Uighurs were still designated enemy combatants, they were not considered significant threats or ‘to have further intelligence value’.

After the court ruled against the administration in that case, the government decided not to retry Parhat and removed his status as an enemy combatant. The last of the Uighurs were absolved of the ‘enemy combatant’ status in September.

full article: www.insight-info.com

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

· Report says 17 boats used

· MPs seek details of UK role

· Europe attacks 42-day plan

 Duncan Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor

 The Guardian,

 Monday June 2 2008

 

The United States is operating “floating prisons” to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

It is the use of ships to detain prisoners, however, that is raising fresh concern and demands for inquiries in Britain and the US.

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists.

At this time many people were abducted by Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in a systematic operation involving regular interrogations by individuals believed to be members of the FBI and CIA. Ultimately more than 100 individuals were “disappeared” to prisons in locations including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve believes prisoners may have also been held for interrogation on the USS Ashland and other ships in the Gulf of Aden during this time.

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate’s story of detention on an amphibious assault ship. “One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo … he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s legal director, said: “They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

“By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.”

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, called for the US and UK governments to come clean over the holding of detainees.

“Little by little, the truth is coming out on extraordinary rendition. The rest will come, in time. Better for governments to be candid now, rather than later. Greater transparency will provide increased confidence that President Bush’s departure from justice and the rule of law in the aftermath of September 11 is being reversed, and can help to win back the confidence of moderate Muslim communities, whose support is crucial in tackling dangerous extremism.”

The Liberal Democrat’s foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, said: “If the Bush administration is using British territories to aid and abet illegal state abduction, it would amount to a huge breach of trust with the British government. Ministers must make absolutely clear that they would not support such illegal activity, either directly or indirectly.”

A US navy spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, told the Guardian: “There are no detention facilities on US navy ships.” However, he added that it was a matter of public record that some individuals had been put on ships “for a few days” during what he called the initial days of detention. He declined to comment on reports that US naval vessels stationed in or near Diego Garcia had been used as “prison ships”.

The Foreign Office referred to David Miliband’s statement last February admitting to MPs that, despite previous assurances to the contrary, US rendition flights had twice landed on Diego Garcia. He said he had asked his officials to compile a list of all flights on which rendition had been alleged.

CIA “black sites” are also believed to have operated in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland and Romania.

In addition, numerous prisoners have been “extraordinarily rendered” to US allies and are alleged to have been tortured in secret prisons in countries such as Syria, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.

Sheikh Qassim: Hizbollah is calling for peace on the basis of Justice.

The Vice General Secretary of Hizbollah, his eminence sheikh Naem Qassim, received a visit from the American Association operating for the promotion of peace and human rights under the leadership of the retired American consul, Richard Vince, accompanied by the ambassador of the international organisation for human rights and the chairman of the Lebanese Assembly For the detainees and the liberated.

hizbollah flag

Sheikh Qassim said: “Hizbollah is calling for peace on the basis of justice and the principle of returning the rights to their rightful owners. The party of God has always taken a defensive stand towards the land, sovereignty and the freedom of decisionand the rejection of guardianship and occupation. It has dealt with those who differ in opinion and political stance in a political manner. Its resistance against Israel was a clear matter to the world for the sake of freedom and defence.

 

And he said: America today with its haughty management is the cause of allcrises and problems in our region. It has not engaged in any affair without aggravating its problems and complicating the means to its resolution. America is successful in finding crises and thorny affairs, and it is failure in resolution. And it is the cause of the great tension in the region, whether it be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine or with Lebanon, Syria or Iran even in Pakistan and other regions from the Arab and the Islamic world.

Full article: www.insight-info.com

Not in My Name

On my birthday last year, I declared my independence from a national leadership that, through its votes in support of the war machine, is now complicit in war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the peace.

cynthia mckinney

I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every veteran maimed, and every child killed.

I noted that the Democratic leadership in Congress had failed to restore this country to Constitutional rule by repealing the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Commissions Act.

That it had aided and abetted illegal spying against the American people. And that it took impeachment off the table.

In addition, the Democratic Congressional leadership failed to promote the economic integrity of this country by not repealing the Bush tax cuts. They failed to institute a livable wage, Medicare-for-
all health care, and gave even more money to the Pentagon as it misuses our hard-earned dollars.

We can add to that list, too, an abject failure to stand up for human rights and dignity.

If the Democratic and Republican leadership won’t respect the right of return for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors, how can we expect them to champion the right of return for Palestinians?

If this country’s leadership tolerates the wanton murder of unarmed black and Latino men by law enforcement officials—extra-judicial killings—how can we expect them to stop or even speak out against targeted assassinations in the Middle East?

If the Democratic and Republican leadership accept ethnic cleansing in this country by way of gentrification and predatory lending, why should we expect them to put an end to it in Palestine?

If the leadership of this country impedes self-determination for native peoples in this country, why should we expect them to support indigenous rights for anyone abroad?

And sadly, the sensationalist corporate media would rather trick us into thinking that reporting on a pastor, a former Vice Presidential nominee, and a former cable TV magnate constitutes this country’s
much-needed discussion of its own apartheid past and present, so why should we expect an honest discussion of apartheid and Zionism?

By: Cynthia McKinney

U.S. Has Detained 2,500 Juveniles as Enemy Combatants

America supports human rights – what a crock!

 

guantanamo

 

The United States has detained approximately 2,500 people younger than 18 as illegal enemy combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since 2002, according to a report filed by the Bush administration with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Although 2,400 of the juveniles were captured in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, only 500 are still held in detention facilities in that country. The administration’s report, which was made public yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union, says that most of the detained Iraqi youths were “engaging in anti-coalition
activity.”

As of last month, 10 juveniles were still being held in Bagram, Afghanistan, out of 90 that had been captured in that country since 2002, according to the report.

source

US Fails at Enforcing Prosecution of Contractors

The US government has the legal authority to prosecute private contractors for crimes they commit in Iraq but often declines to use it, according to a report released today by a leading human rights group. The findings by Human Rights First come amid renewed uncertainty about whether employees of the US security company Blackwater can be prosecuted for a September shooting in Baghdad that
left 17 Iraqis dead.

blackwater

The Bush administration has warned that inconsistency in federal law may allow the contractors to evade charges, the New York Times reported today.

“The main obstacle to ending the culture of impunity among private security contractors is not shortcomings in the law but rather the lack of will to enforce the law,” today’s report states.

A seven-year-old law called the Military extraterrestrial jurisdiction act, or MEJA, provides the main mechanism to prosecute contractors for crimes committed outside the US.

But many in the capital have questioned whether MEJA’s specific application to Pentagon employees would exempt Blackwater, which was operating under a US state department contract when the September shooting occurred.

The human rights report rejects that argument, citing a congressional expansion of MEJA passed after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in 2004. That measure allows for prosecution of non-Pentagon employees who were “supporting the mission of the department of defence”.

The behaviour of contractors for Blackwater and other security firms has sparked resentment among Iraqi officials as well as civilians, many of whom consider the private guards unnecessarily violent.

“These violent attacks have created a culture of impunity that angers the local population, undermines the military mission, and promotes more abuse by contractors over time,” the report states.

The report found that since the war in Iraq began, only one US contractor has been charged with a violent crime under MEJA: an employee of KBR, formerly owned by Halliburton, who was accused of
stabbing an Indian female colleague.

The House of Representatives already has approved a measure that would directly apply MEJA to Blackwater and its fellow contractors. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has introduced an expansion of MEJA in the Senate, but the bill has yet to see action.

Fallout from Blackwater’s legal and public relations troubles has hit British security companies in recent months.

The chief executive of ArmorGroup, the largest UK security firm operating in Iraq, left his post after reports of the September violence chilled the company’s profits and new contracts.

The human rights report singles out ArmorGroup and Aegis Defence Services, another UK-based contractor, for tracking incidents involving firearms use by their employees, in contrast with US
companies that do not routinely keep such records.

by: Elena Schorr