What is Bahrain trying to hide from Amnesty observers? © STR/AFP/Getty Images
On March 1st, my colleagues in our London office pulled the plug on Amnesty’s scheduled mission to Bahrain. We had sought to spend a full week in the country, talking to government officials, human rights advocates, victims, and others. But at the end of the day, the government of Bahrain told us that weekend visits aren’t allowed.
In direct conversation and via Twitter, Bahraini officials stated that we could come to the country for five weekdays at a time. But if we wanted to talk to Bahrainis during their Friday / Saturday weekend, the answer was no. Other human rights organizations received the same message.
The big question is — why? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Yesterday a coalition of 18 leading human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute launched a call for the establishment of a non-partisan commission of eminent persons to investigate and examine the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees following the 9/11 attacks.
The call was backed by former FBI Director William Sessions, Major General Antonio Taguba who headed the military investigations into the abuses at Abu Ghraib, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, Juan Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the President of the United Church of Christ Dr. John Thomas.
Former FBI Director Sessions commented:
“The president has a responsibility to protect and defend Americans and unfortunately, many questions remain unanswered as to whether the detention, transfer, and treatment of detainees following the September 11th attacks were in the country’s best interest. We need to understand what happened and how to prevent any illegal actions form taking place in the future.”
The United States used to inspire the world as a beacon for human rights. The U.S. championed the international rule of law and pressed other countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa to bring human rights abusers to account for their actions. The past eight years have greatly damaged America’s image in the world. We need to repair than damage by showing that we hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold other nations.