Thursday, January 31, 2008

The United States of Torture


Doesn't this make you proud, 'murkn?



I'm embarrassed and ashamed.

"US flouts human rights with secret prisons, torture: HRW"

"The United States continues to violate basic human rights by keeping secret detention facilities abroad, holding people illegally as "disappeared" and justifying torture, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday.

The Human Rights Watch World Report 2008 found no improvement in the human rights situation in the United States, despite efforts by the US Congress to end the alleged abuses carried out in its war on terrorism.

"There was no evident progress concerning the treatment of so-called enemy combatants, including those held at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), or the use of secret detention facilities" in foreign countries, HRW said.

The Pentagon in 2007 released more than 100 "war on terror" detainees held in the prison facility at the US Navy base in eastern Cuba, but 305 continue to be imprisoned there, most of them without having been formally charged.

After the 2006 legislative elections that put Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress, a bill restoring Guantanamo prisoners' right to habeas corpus was proposed but has yet to be approved.

HRW said in its report that by announcing in April that a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoner had been transferred to Guantanamo, the Pentagon made it clear there still were US detention facilities around the world.

The rights group said it believed 39 people were being held in US secret detention facilities and recalled that the US government had admitted to holding 100 prisoners in all.

"Under international law those persons remain unlawfully 'disappeared' until the United States can account for them," the report said.

And despite congressional pressure forcing the Pentagon to adopt new rules for prisoner interrogations to preclude torture-like abuses, HRW said the US government continues to justify such techniques in certain cases.

"The CIA contends that it is not bound by these rules, and the (US) administration has gone to great lengths to justify the CIA's continued use of certain techniques banned for use by the military," said the report.

On the domestic front, HRW said 2.2 million people were imprisoned in 2007 in the United States, a 500 percent increase over the past 30 years and equivalent to five times the entire prison population of Britain.

In addition to having the largest prison population in the world, the report added, the United States imprisoned blacks at a rate 6.5 times higher than that of whites.

HRW also found that undocumented foreigners faced greater risk of arrest in the United States, had difficulty in asserting their legal rights in court and were imprisoned under sometimes abusive conditions.

The report also criticized US laws listing people convicted of sexual offenses in a national sexual offender registry that turns them into social pariahs with little chance of finding employment or housing, and making them the target of violence."