Posted 3 Dec 2014
The findings of a new UN report do not reflect well on the U.S., a nation that continues to tout itself as a leader on such issues despite the enormous amount of criticism aimed at policies of torture, indefinite detention, and various forms of other abuse in recent years. (Image: Witness Against Torture/flickr).
The United Nations issued a report on torture by the United States and it should be quite an embarrassment to every American. Not only is the US violating international laws against torture in its military actions and treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, but the report also criticized the violation of US laws against torture. The report noted the widespread police brutality common in the United States and the lack of accountability for police who mistreat people. The report also criticized the mistreatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement as well as botched executions. The UN also concerns over the mistreatment of immigrants, expedited deportation without adequate due process and lack of adequate protection for asylum seekers. . The report is an indictment of government in the United States at every level. The UN criticized the United States for not cooperating with the investigation and providing full information.
An official report by the United Nations Committee Against Torture released Friday found that the United States has a long way to go if it wants to actually earn its claimed position as a leader in the world on human rights.
Following a lengthy review of recent and current practices regarding torture, imprisonment, policing, immigration policies, and the overall legacy of the Bush and Obama administration’s execution of the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ the committee report(pdf) found the U.S. government in gross violation when it comes to protecting basic principles of the Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994, as well as other international treaties.
This was the first full review of the U.S. human rights record by the UN body since 2006 and the release of the report follows a two-day hearing in Geneva earlier this month in which representatives of the Obama administration offered testimony and answered questions to the review panel. The report’s findings do not reflect well on the U.S.. . .
In addition to calling for full accountability for the worst torture practices that happened during the Bush administration, the panel also demanded the Obama administration end the continued harsh treatment of foreign detainees at its offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay on the island of Cuba.
Reuters reports that the UN did not only criticize US policy outside of the United States but also domestically:
The U.N. Committee against Torture urged the United States on Friday to fully investigate and prosecute police brutality and shootings of unarmed black youth and ensure that taser weapons are used sparingly. . .
The committee decried “excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” for prisoners during “botched executions” as well as frequent rapes of inmates, shackling of pregnant women in some prisons and extensive use of solitary confinement.
Its findings cited deep concern about “numerous reports” of police brutality and excessive use of force against people from minority groups, immigrants, homosexuals and racial profiling.
The U.S. military overnight transferred six Guantánamo detainees to Uruguay. All of them had been imprisoned since 2002 – more than 12 years. None has ever been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. They had all been cleared for release years ago by the Pentagon itself, but nonetheless remained in cages until today.
Among the released detainees is Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Lebanese-born Syrian national and father of four who was seized by the Pakistani police and turned over to the U.S. in 2002 for what was reportedly a large bounty. He was cleared for release in 2009 – five years ago – and has repeatedly gone on hunger strikes inside the camp to protest his treatment. At the age of 43, he has become physically debilitated. As the human rights group Reprieve detailed:
As a result of the conditions inside the prison and the callous treatment he has received, Mr Dhiab’s health has now deteriorated to such an extent that he is confined to a wheelchair. Recent revelations revealed that Mr. Dhiab is being denied access to his wheelchair, meaning he is brutally dragged from his cell and force-fed against his will every day.
As the great Miami Herald Guantánamo reporter Carol Rosenberg notes, there are – six years after Obama was elected on a pledge to close the camp – still 136 detainees there, with 67 of them cleared for release (Democrats’ claims that Obama is largely blameless are false and misleading in the extreme, as are claims that no country will accept detainees). In a just-posted article, Rosenberg notes that the release of these six men, all in their 30s and 40s, was underway for a full year, but it “sat on [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s] desk for months, awaiting his signature, while intelligence analysts evaluated it.”
For all the years of propagandistic assertions that the detainees are dangerous “terrorists,” almost none has been charged with any crime by a government that has repeatedly (and with disgraceful ease) convicted people on terrorism allegations. They have just been kept in cages, indefinitely, in the middle of an ocean, thousands of miles from their homes. Nine detainees have died at the camp: several allegedly by suicide,others from illness. One of the detainees kept at the camp (released in 2008) was an Al Jazeera photojournalist, Sami Al-Haj, who was encaged for six years with no charges or trial and with almost no U.S. media notice (even as the U.S. media endlessly denounces the detention of U.S. journalists by other governments).
One significant reason these six detainees were released today is because Uruguay’s President, Jose Mujica, publicly shamed the U.S. into doing so. He wrote an open letter to Obama last week, posted on his presidential website, urging their release on humanitarian grounds, writing: “We have offered our hospitality for human beings who suffered an atrocious kidnapping in Guantánamo.” Mujica himself is a “former 14-year political prisoner who spent much of his captivity in solitary confinement for his guerrilla activities with the Tupamaro revolutionary movement.”