Thursday, January 11, 2007

HRW: US Has Forfeited Human Rights Leadersip to Europe

EU must take over human rights leadership: Report
CBC News
The European Union must fill the leadership void on human rights left by the United States, which forfeited the role with its harsh treatment of terror suspects, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The leading rights group released its 556-page World Report 2007 on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. first sending detainees to its controversial detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Since the U.S. can't provide credible leadership on human rights, European countries must pick up the slack," the group's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said. "Instead, the European Union is punching well below its weight."

The voice of the U.S. "now rings hollow — an enormous loss for the human rights cause," Roth said in an essay at the start of the report.

He cited a speech last September by U.S. President George W. Bush, in which he spoke of an "alternative set of (interrogation) procedures."

"The last year dispelled any doubt that the Bush administration's use of torture and other mistreatment was a matter of policy dictated at the top rather than the aberrant misconduct of a few low-level interrogators," he wrote.

Which brings us to this tidbit: The Fifth Anniversary of the gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is just the beginning according to an announcement today by the US Department of Defense.

Guantanamo Facility Needed ‘for Foreseeable Future,’
By Kathleen T. Rhem, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 – The United States will need a detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for as long as the country is fighting a war on terror, the admiral in charge of operations there said today.

“I think that we’ll have a detention facility and a detention mission for the foreseeable future,” Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of Joint task Force Guantanamo Bay, said in an interview here today -- the fifth anniversary of the start of detention operations at Guantanamo.

“The president has said that he would like to see Guantanamo closed when it’s no longer necessary, and we support that, of course, and we believe in that,” Harris added. “The issue is when it’s no longer necessary. And I believe that today, as long as we’re in the fight, as long as we’re in the global war on terror, and as long as we have forces engaging the enemy in Afghanistan and in Iraq, there is a need for a facility like Guantanamo.”


Blogger jsb said...

Speaking of the EU and human rights:

The European Union (EU) says it deplores what it calls "further deterioration" of the human rights situation in Cuba since June 2005.

In a June 12 statement, the EU's foreign ministers said that according to Cuban human rights organizations, the number of political prisoners in Cuba has risen in the last year to more than 330 documented cases. This figure includes several individuals detained without charge or trial since 2005.

In addition, the EU's ministers said, hundreds of young Cuban citizens have been detained and sentenced under a Cuban penal code that makes it unlawful to show the "propensity to commit a crime." The foreign ministers’ statement was released after the Luxemburg meeting of the EU's General Relations and External Relations Council, which deals with the EU’s foreign affairs.

The foreign ministers reiterated their call for the Cuban government to "unconditionally" release all political prisoners in Cuba, including a group of 75 people who were detained and sentenced to prison in 2003.

The EU foreign ministers expressed particular concern about several dozen acts of violent harassment and intimidation against members of Cuba’s peaceful political opposition and civil society reported since July 2005. The Cuban authorities, said the ministers, were not fulfilling their obligations to protect all Cuban citizens. The foreign ministers "urgently" called on Cuba's government "to take prompt action to stop the ongoing harassment and to undertake every effort to effectively prevent its resumption."

EU relations with Cuba are governed by what is called the EU’s "Common Position" adopted in 1996. Among other things, it requires regular evaluations of the situation in Cuba.

The Common Position says the EU's objective in its relations with Cuba is to encourage "a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people."

The United States and other members of the international community repeatedly have condemned human rights abuses in Cuba. A report released April 5 by the U.S. State Department says that for the past 47 years, the Cuban government of Fidel Castro has "consistently spurned domestic and international calls for greater political tolerance and respect for human rights." (See related article.)

The department's report, called Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005-2006, says that in 2005, the Cuban government continued to ignore or violate virtually all of its citizens' fundamental rights, including the right to change their government. The Cuban people did not enjoy freedom of speech, press or movement, and were denied the right to assemble peacefully or freely form associations, said the report. The Cuba section of the report dealing with Cuba and the Western Hemisphere is available on the State Department Web site.

The full text of the EU foreign ministers’ statement is available on the EU Web site.

11:45 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

Thank you JSB, for this outdated and irrelevant material. I can also post the lengthy condemnations of US policy towards Cuba, towards the environment, towards human rights, etc. by the EU if you'd like.

Since last year, 50 of these so-called political prisoners have been released. And you know my position on those who took money or assistance from a foreign government for subversion - they would be in jail in any country. For the EU to not ackowledge these facts undermines their credibility.

9:13 AM  

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