Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Torture and Impunity in US Courts

An article by Jonathan Hafetz succinctly addressed the problems associated with the torture and abuse of detainees who are indefinitely held as a matter of "national security." The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that individuals subjected to torture and other abuse and detained in connection with the "war on terror" may not obtain a judicial remedy for such mistreatment.

"The court's decision effectively creates a national security exception to the general principle that government officials may be held accountable for the torture and prolonged arbitrary detention of US citizens."

View the article in its entirety here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wife Sues In-Laws, Says Arranged Marriage Turned to Slavery

A recent article from ABC News tells the story of Human Rights USA client, Diptiben Mistry, who was held as a 'virtual prisoner' and forced into involuntary servitude by her in-laws following an arranged marriage. Read the full article from ABC News.

Monday, January 23, 2012

US failure to close Guantanamo prison breaches international law

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that the continued indefinite detention of Guantanamo prisoners was a “clear breach of international law.” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed her disappointment in the U.S. government’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay prison despite President Obama’s order to close the detention facility in January 2009.

In addition to the arbitrary detention of Guantanamo detainees, the High Commissioner highlighted other violations of international human rights law including torture that occurred in Guantanamo. The National Defense Authorization Act codified the U.S. contravention of international law by legalizing “indefinite military detention without charge or trial.”

Navi Pillay recognized President Obama’s commitment to interpreting the National Defense Authorization Act in a manner consistent with the U.S. Constitution and international law, yet called for the United States government to “ensure that individuals deprived of their liberty can have the lawfulness of their detention reviewed before a court.” Pillay reminded the United States that the Convention against Torture, ratified by the U.S. in 1994, imposed an affirmative duty on States Parties to investigate serious human rights violations including torture. Pillay recommended that the United States conduct such investigations in order to hold U.S. officials accountable for authorizing and implementing “coercive interrogation methods analogous to torture” at Guantanamo Bay.

Pillay urged the U.S. government to adhere to its obligations under international human rights law while operating the Guantanamo detention center and pushed Congress to “respect the principle of non-refoulement” when closing Guantanamo.

View the original article here.

Article 2 of the Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994, states that “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Article 12 outlines the obligation for a state to investigate: “Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Accountability Report Release Event

Human Rights USA would like to remind you about Friday's luncheon and panel discussion launching the recently released report, Indefensible: A Reference for Prosecuting Torture and Other Felonies Committed by US Officials Following September 11th. Please note this event will be held on Friday, January 27th from 12PM-1:30PM at American University Washington College of Law. Please RSVP to Gineen Cargo, cargo@wcl.american.edu, at your earliest convenience.

The panel, which will be moderated by HRUSA's Allison Lefrak, will include Professor Benjamin Davis of the University of Toledo School of Law (author of Refluat Stercus: A Citizen's View of Criminal Prosecution in US Domestic Courts of High-Level US Civilian Authority and Military Generals for Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment); Professor David Crane of Syracuse University College of Law (founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, former member of the Senior Executive Service who held numerous key managerial positions during his three decades of public service); John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch (one of the primary authors of Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees); and Professor Richard Wilson of Washington College of Law (founding director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at WCL, one of the oldest human rights law clinics in the US).

Free parking is available for panelists and attendees in the Washington College of Law parking garage at 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016 (entrance to the garage is located on Massachusetts Ave., immediately passed the law school).

Metro Directions - After going up the escalators at Tenleytown (Red Line), follow the signs in the metro station for the AU shuttle. After exiting the metro station, cross 40th street where there will be an AU sign. Take the red route AU shuttle which comes every 15 minutes. There will be a red
sign on bus indicating red route/WCL. There will be 4 stops before the shuttle arrives at WCL, the fifth and last stop.

Bus Directions - The N3, N4, N6, and N8 stop at 48th street and Massachusetts Ave. NW.

More details below. The report can be downloaded