By Esmeralda Lopez, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Mexico My desire to end torture in Mexico runs deep. Years ago it became too dangerous for me to visit my family in Mexico because they are only hours from Ciudad Juarez, a hot spot of violence. Some officers point to incidents of violence and the high crime rate as justification for use of torture. But I know torture is not the solution. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.
“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.
He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.
By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA Chair of the Board of Directors
As Americans and people around the world grow increasingly wary of the U.S. government’s mass surveillance program, it is our obligation to speak up.
As a former prisoner of conscience in South Africa during the apartheid era, I know from personal experience just how important it is to protect our fundamental freedoms. And make no mistake: the right to privacy is absolutely fundamental to a free society. True, many of us broadcast selfies and personal details of our lives on social media every day. But that is our right and our choice. It does not give the government the right to collect and store every piece of data about us, without our consent.
The cost of widespread government surveillance is steep. The knowledge that everything we do can be monitored will change the way we act and what we say. This is how governments create a climate in which people fear the consequences of expressing themselves openly and worry their beliefs and activities can be used against them.
By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA
On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he strongly supports declassification and public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture since 9/11.
This is a huge step forward in our effort to release the report! Release of this report will help us ensure that the CIA never uses torture again.
By Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International
The ‘Big Brother Problem’ has helped to kick off this year’s discussions of the most pressing problems facing the world today as the World Economic Forum meeting gets under way in Davos, Switzerland.
This is an important recognition of the urgency of the issue. It is one that affects every single one of us and is an area of law that needs to be resolved.
Some of the most memorable headlines of 2013 involved personal privacy, data security and intelligence gathering issues from all corners of the globe – from the U.S. to Brazil, from Australia to India.
By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Advisor at Amnesty International USA
On Friday, January 17, President Obama will announce the results of his review of National Security Agency surveillance programs. Will he renounce mass surveillance and put human rights at the heart of reform? Or will he perpetuate a global spying program that puts free speech and privacy rights of people around the world at risk?
It’s tough to sort rhetoric from reality on an issue as complicated and contested as surveillance, so we’ve put together a cheat sheet to evaluate the President’s speech:
1) He pays lip service to the 95%, but doesn’t scrap global warrantless surveillance.
Ninety-five percent of the world’s people live outside the U.S. and are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. But under U.S. law they count as “non-U.S. persons” – who get few protections under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under section 702 of that law, the government claims authority to surveill countless people outside the U.S. – including the content of their emails – without notice, independent judicial review of individual cases, a warrant, probable cause or access to a remedy for privacy violations.
“In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong. We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantánamo.”
- Major General Michael Lehnert (ret.), first commander of detentions at Guantánamo (2002), December 2013
By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA
As U.S. detentions at Guantánamo enter their 13th year, we need to take President Obama and Congress to task for their delay in closing the detention facility.
It’s been twelve years too many. The time for action is now. President Obama must transfer cleared detainees, including Shaker Aamer. There are no excuses, especially now that he has greater flexibility from Congress to do just that.
As I write this, Amnesty International activists across the U.S. are preparing to come together for Regional Conferences. They are crafting booths for Ideas Fairs, writing curricula for workshops on effective advocacy, researching complex human rights issues around the globe. They are organizing their communities to come together and build a movement.
At Amnesty, I am continually struck by the Power of Us – the theme of this year’s Regional Conferences. Everywhere I look, Amnesty activists are building a larger and stronger “us” with even more grassroots power.
This post is part of a series written by Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator Kalaya’an Mendoza from the road of the Game of Drones tour. Follow the tour on Tumblr and take action to prevent extrajudicial killings with drones and other weapons.
By the time the stragglers reached the auditorium at the Ithaca College showing of Dirty Wars, everyone was packed shoulder to shoulder in their seats, a solid mass of people talking excitedly and straining to get closer to the screen. I saw one young woman squirm through the crowd to find one of the last empty seats, wedging herself between two others.
A quiet slowly settled across the room and the film began, Jeremy Scahill’s voice carrying through the auditorium. The faces of children who have lost mothers and uncles and grandparents to U.S. strikes with drones and other weapons flashed across the screen. The film details the raids and strikes that characterize President Obama’s deadliest and most secret game: the Game of Drones.
By Kalaya’an Mendoza, Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator
As I write these words, the sun is just starting to come up on a crisp, clear Vermont day. It will warm up later, but the chill in the air and the turning leaves tell me one thing is sure: winter is coming.
As the seasons change, another year of the U.S. government’s shadowy ‘global war’ continues. The Obama Administration’s drone policy remains shrouded in secrecy despite serious allegations of unlawful killings. Amid raids and strikes, untold many have been killed and injured, and countless other lives remain perilously in the balance as President Obama plays the deadliest of games: the Game of Drones.
This fall, we’re standing up and saying this has got to end now. I’m taking the fight to campuses across the country, meeting people in classrooms and common rooms to recruit them into a growing movement calling on President Obama to release the names of victims of drone strikes, and end this Game of Drones!