The U.S. attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are all the more deplorable when you consider the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the U.S.
No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment. We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International, but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.
S. 744 as introduced by the “Gang of Eight” had its problems – such as bolstering flawed immigration enforcement, detention and deportation programs – but there were also many provisions which took concrete steps towards addressing human rights violations.
Activists demonstrate against indefinite detention and unfair trials at US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (Photo Credit: Shawn Duffy).
Angry. That’s how I felt when President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, despite containing terrible provisions that run afoul of human rights standards and have been used to justify indefinite detention at Guantanamo.
Well, the NDAA is back in the House of Representatives this week and the bad Guantanamo provisions are in it again. Will you join me in demanding that Congress support the human rights of all people?
On May 23, 2013, President Obama stated that history will cast a harsh judgment on the legacy of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and those who fail to end it. Unfortunately, the current reality is that dozens of men are detained in Guantanamo despite being cleared for transfer. Here are just a few:
Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghupur, and Saidullah Khalik – Detained in Guantanamo for 10 years and 11 months. The three men are ethnic Uyghurs from China. They were arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. After they were given over to U.S. forces, they were transferred to Guantanamo in 2002. In 2008, they, along with 14 other Uyghurs, successfully filed writs of Habeas Corpus. While all the other Uyghur held at Guantanamo have been transferred, these three remain detained.
Shaker Aamer - Detained for 11 years and 4 months. Originally from Saudi Arabia, he was arrested in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family, in 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo in February, 2002. Under President Bush he was cleared for transfer. Despite the U.K. government’s requests he be transferred to the U.K., Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo.
US President Barack Obama and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last met in February. When they meet again this week, they should not shy away from the topic of human rights (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).
As President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China begin discussions designed to forge closer personal bonds between the two nations, they should not shy away from uncomfortable topics.
President Xi says he wants a “new type” of great power relationship with the United States. President Obama says he welcomes China’s peaceful rise, provided that it occurs in a way that reinforces international norms and enhances security.These statements suggest that neither leader is comfortable with the relationship as it stands, and both are seeking greater clarity and trust.
The CIA knew neither the identity nor the affiliation of about one in four people it killed in drone strikes, an NBC News report released yesterday found. The news agency reviewed classified CIA documents describing U.S. strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan over a 14-month period starting in September 2010. The news report underscores the need for independent and impartial investigations into allegations of unlawful killings, as Amnesty has repeatedly sought.
In a major speech on national security last month, President Obama for the first time spoke at length about drone strikes. (See Amnesty International’s in-depth analysis, “Words, War, and the Rule of Law“). He called civilian casualties “heartbreaking tragedies” that will “haunt us as long as we live.” He said his administration had put in place a standard for using lethal force that “respects the inherent dignity of every human life.” These welcome words must be followed up by strong actions: greater transparency with the public, investigations of deaths, accountability for illegal killings, and compliance with the law.
Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist, author and producer. His latest film is the documentary ‘Dirty Wars’ opening in theaters on June 7.
I worked for the last three years on the film Dirty Wars to shed a light on the U.S. government’s “global war” theory used to justify killing people around the world, from Afghanistan, to Somalia, to Yemen, and beyond.
In this journey, I encountered many people who shared their personal stories with us, including painful memories of the killing of their loved ones in night raids, cruise missile attacks, and drone strikes.
If so, read this note Amnesty received from Sami al Hajj, who was held at Guantanamo without charge for years and finally transferred home to Sudan in 2008:
“I received more than 20,000 letters from members and supporters of Amnesty International during my last two years at Guantánamo Bay…These letters really encouraged me during my very difficult time. They made me feel as though I was not alone and not to give up…Also, I felt and could notice that from all these letters, the Administration of Guantánamo Bay changed and improved towards me, as they knew I was not alone and I had people who cared about me. The guards said to me that they could see I was someone who mattered and must be important because of all the letters – this made them respect me more.”
Turn to Guantanamo today – we’re entering month five of the hunger strike and over 11 years of indefinite detention. It is well past time for each detainee to either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released.
Our report makes clear that, while there were encouraging signs in the speech, the continuing absence of international human rights law from the US government’s counterterrorism framework remains a grave cause for concern.
Here are seven key recommendations from the report:
On May 23rd, 2013, President Obama made his first major speech on national security since 2009 (Photo Credit: Getty Images).
As I watched President Obama’s speech yesterday on national security, I thought of all the people who have been detained, tortured or illegally killed by the US government since 9/11 and about all of the individuals and communities that have been discriminated against based on their race, religion or identity.
I thought about how these terrible human rights violations were committed in the name of keeping me safe. It made me angry and ashamed. With that perspective, I was also angry that President Obama has said too little, too late. Did he even mention human rights in the speech?
But at another level, I was glad to see that there has been enough pressure on the President, from the hunger strikers, to impacted communities to the public, such that he felt he had to address these issues.