sábado, septiembre 30, 2006

Torture in America

Some call it the land of the free.

Some call it the home of the brave.

Yet, in that country, a bunch of cowards have given Bush and his henchmen permission to go around the world torturing people.

There is many who reject this bizarre decision by the US to twist the law in order to allow members of its military and its "intelligence" agencies to torture anyone they want.

Here you have an example:

By Stephanie Nebehay

Fri Sep 29, 10:31 AM ET

The U.N. torture investigator charged on Friday that a new U.S. law for tough interrogation of terrorism suspects would deprive people of the right to a fair trial before independent courts and could lead to mistreatment.

Manfred Nowak, United Nations special rapporteur on torture, regretted that the bill ignored U.N. rights bodies which have said U.S. interrogation methods and prolonged detentions violate international law.

The Senate gave final approval on Thursday to the bill, a day after its passage by the House of Representatives. President George W. Bush is expected to sign it into law very soon.

"I am afraid that with the new law, the interrogation methods will not really change. Bush has said that harsh interrogation methods will continue and that is my concern," the Austrian law professor told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The U.N. Committee against Torture and the U.N. Human Rights Committee have found the U.S. interrogation methods are unlawful and expressed concern at arbitrary detentions.

"The bill does not take into account substantive criticism from our side ... It is not the signal that I would have expected the U.S. government and Congress would make in order to try to comply with our recommendations," Nowak said.

The bill sets standards for interrogating suspects, but with complex rules that rights groups say could allow techniques that border on torture such as sleep deprivation.

Bush got much of what he wanted in the bill to continue the once-secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program of detention and aggressive interrogations of suspects.

It establishes military tribunals that would allow some use of evidence obtained by coercion, but would give defendants access to classified evidence being used to convict them.


"These people must have a right to fair trial before an independent court which in principle should be an ordinary court. I am particularly concerned that with the bill, the habeas corpus rights are further reduced," Nowak said.

Habeas corpus refers to a person's right to go before an independent judge who rules on the legality of the detention.

"This is one of the most regressive pieces of legislation in U.S. history," Reed Brody, legal counsel at the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

A landmark Supreme Court ruling last June struck down Bush's first military commissions to try suspects, leaving the process in limbo. There have been no successful prosecutions since the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

The bill expands the definition of "enemy combatants" mostly held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to include those who provide arms, money and other aid to terrorist groups.

"The Bush administration has been given authority to determine who is an enemy combatant and to lock people up on its own say-so indefinitely without trial," Brody said.

"We would have thought that after Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret prisons, the administration would have learned mistreatment and torture do not make the country safer against terrorism, but in fact render it more vulnerable," he added.

The International Commission of Jurists said the law put inmates at Guantanamo and elsewhere "back in a legal black hole."

"It is terrible to say the least for the detainees and rule of law in the United States, but also a dangerous precedent because it undermines international human rights law standards," said Gerald Staberock, head of the ICJ's global security program.

I wonder how many Latin American immigrants will be tortured under this new legislation.

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