Thursday, March 01, 2007

UN Human Rights Chief Blasts U.S.

JTW News:
"I hope that we will see the American judicial system rise to its long-standing reputation as a guardian of fundamental human rights and civil liberties and provide the protection to all that are under the authority, control, and therefore in my view jurisdiction of the United States," Louise Arbour said on Wednesday.

The UN high commissioner for human rights was referring to the Military Commissions Act approved by the US Congress last year and last month's federal appeals court ruling that Guantanamo Bay detainees cannot use the US court system to challenge their detention. The case is likely to go to the Supreme Court.

I can hardly believe that it's my country that Ms. Arbour is talking about when she says:
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, the U.S.-led "war on terror" has undermined the global ban on torture, this weakening American moral authority on human rights, worldwide. "The principle once believed to be unassailable -- the inherent right to physical integrity and dignity of the person -- is becoming a casualty of the so-called War on Terror," Arbour said in a statement on Human Rights Day.

Arbour is also a former Canadian Supreme Court justice and a chief prosecutor for the U.N. war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia. She praised past U.S. leadership on expanding political and civil rights, because it allowed the Americans "to lecture others about their performances." "To the extent that there's a perception that there is a withdrawal from the high-water mark of commitment to civil and political liberties, I think it makes it a lot more difficult for the United States to exercise that kind of moral leadership on all human rights issues," Arbour said.

The UN Commissioner of Human Rights "decried two practices in particular: holding prisoners in secret detention centers, which she said was a form of torture, and rendering suspects to third countries outside normal extradition procedures, that is, without independent oversight." Arbour said "There are a lot of human rights that can be set aside in cases of emergency, lots of them, but not the right to life and not the protection against torture." The United States has denied practicing torture but it has avoided denying or confirming a Washington Post report that the CIA runs secret centres in Eastern Europe to interrogate terrorism suspects."

The United States has also come under heavy criticism for prisoner abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The heavy loss of civilian life and the conduct of U.S. troops have been heavily criticized in the on going occupation of Iraq. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted, "Iraq is a disaster."