By Daphne Eviatar
Law and Security
This is a crosspost from The Huffington Post.
On Tuesday afternoon, Senator Dick Durbin will chair a long-awaited Congressional hearing on the Obama drone war.
Although we’ve heard plenty of speeches in the past couple of years from Obama administration officials acknowledging that the United States uses armed drones to bomb suspected terrorists overseas, we’ve received precious little actual information about who the government is killing, where and why.
Tuesday’s hearing should begin to change that.
By Marc Jayson Climaco
New Media Content Specialist
Federal prosecutors charged Dzhokhar Tsarnaev today with one count of “using a weapon of mass destruction” and one count of “malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death,” The New York Times reports.
There’s no need for debate about whether the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect should have instead been treated as an enemy combatant. President Obama made the right decision in committing to try Dzhokhar in a U.S. federal court. Federal courts have completed nearly 500 cases related to international terrorism since 9/11. Of those, 67 cases have involved individuals captured overseas, according to Department of Justice data obtained by Human Rights First in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Meanwhile, military commissions have convicted only seven individuals since 9/11 and has needlessly delayed many high profile terrorism prosecutions. Two of those convictions were recently overturned due to legal problems in securing jurisdiction.
Americans deserve justice for the Boston Marathon bombing. If convicted, Dzhohkhar could face the death penalty for killing three civilians and injuring over a hundred more.
Click to view the infographic in full, share, or download.
FACTSHEET: Federal Courts Continue to Take Lead in Counterterrorism Prosecutions
FACTSHEET: Myth v. Fact – Trying Terror Suspects in Federal Court
FACTSHEET: Guantanamo by the Numbers
FACTSHEET: The Miranda Warning
By Brian Dooley
Human Rights Defenders
The U.S. State Department’s 2012 country reports released today include a useful, detailed assessment of human rights violations in Bahrain, which include torture, arbitrary arrests, and attacks on journalists, some of whom covered the Formula One race last year.
The State Department has rightly named names in many emblematic cases of political prisoners, human rights defenders and others. Today the U.S. government has shown it has a real understanding of the human rights reality in Bahrain. It is all the more frustrating then, that the State Department has been relatively silent on the ongoing issues in Bahrain.
The report outlines key human rights problems in the Kingdom, including torture in both official government detention centers and unofficial sites. “The [Bahraini] government limited freedom of speech and press through active prosecution of individuals under libel, slander, and national security laws; firing or attacking civilian and professional journalists; and proposing legislation to limit speech in print and social media,” it reports.
By Sayed Yousif Al-Mahafdah
For the second consecutive year, Bahrain will host a Formula One (F1) race despite severe human rights violations documented by local and international human rights organizations, including the United Nations.
For the second consecutive year, the race will proceed with great fanfare as the plight of dozens of athletes who were detained and tortured for exercising their freedom of expression goes unnoticed. Many of these athletes were targeted, arrested and defamed because of their participation in the “Athletes March,” a peaceful march by athletes who supported the 14th February Revolution at the Pearl Roundabout. Some remain in jail.
By Corinne Duffy
Secretary of State John Kerry heads to China this weekend to meet with his counterparts in Beijing and discuss a wide range of issues, from national security, to the global economy. One thing that should be on the agenda is China’s treatment of dissidents. In January 2011, Secretary Hillary Clinton said that “we must raise human rights [with China], which remains at the heart of American diplomacy.” Secretary Kerry should follow Clinton’s leadership and remember the human rights defenders being persecuted by the Chinese government:
Wang Yonghang (Imprisoned) Wang is a human rights attorney serving a 7-year sentence for publishing letters online advocating religious freedom and for representing Falun Gong members. He was sentenced in February 2010 after being forcibly removed from his home and beaten by Chinese authorities. In May 2012, sources said he had been subjected to long-term persecution and torture in detention. In the last six months his health has deteriorated significantly and he suffers from tuberculosis, pleural and peritoneal effusions, and shows signs of partial paralysis. Chinese authorities refuse to admit to his poor health or provide additional medical treatment.
By Adam Jacobson
Law and Security Program
So I was supposed to go to Guantanamo Bay next week to observe the pre-trial hearings in the military commission case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Al-Nashiri is the alleged mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 in Yemen and the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002. Al-Nashiri has been at Guantanamo since 2006, after spending years in at least one CIA black site, where he was tortured.
I spent some time at Fort Meade observing al-Nashiri’s previous hearing in February (and wrote here about the various complications), but was excited to see the proceedings in person. Well, as close to in-person as an NGO observer gets, which is a viewing room, with access to attorneys and reporters afterward. I was also excited to pick up some souvenirs from the Gitmo gift shop, which is a real thing.
By Raha Wala
Law and Security Program
When President Obama took office, one of his first official acts was to sign an executive order banning the Bush Administration’s torture techniques and the CIA black sites where they were used. That was a major victory for human rights and American values, and is an important part of the President’s legacy. It could also be considered a moment when we finally turned the page on this shameful chapter of our history.
The operative word here is “could,” because although we may think of the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program as a relic of the dark and lawless post-9/11 days, we have yet to fully deal with the fact that our government tortured prisoners held in American custody. As 28 of our nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals put it: “This kind of self-examination is indispensable to ensuring a durable national consensus against torture.”
By Daphne Eviatar
Law and Security Program
This is a cross post from The Huffington Post.
More than 11 years after Shaker Aamer was first seized from Afghanistan and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, the now 47-year-old lawful British resident remains stuck in the U.S. prison. He’s never been charged with a crime. He’s never met his 11-year-old son.
In fact, Aamer has twice been cleared for release from Guantanamo – first by the Bush Administration and again by the Obama Administration. And the UK government has said it wants him back. Yet inexplicably, he remains imprisoned in the offshore U.S. military facility.
Like the 85 other men who’ve been cleared for release or transfer yet remain incarcerated at Guantanamo without charge or trial, Aamer has grown desperate. He’s joined the growing population of detainees now engaged in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention without charge by the U.S. government – for many of them, for more than a decade.
By Joelle Fiss
Fighting Discrimination Program
Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis marched in the streets, calling for the death penalty for two bloggers who allegedly insulted Islam. Yes, you read correctly. That’s hundreds of thousands of protesters, according to press reports. Under the law, bloggers can be jailed for up to 10 years for defaming a religion. That’s apparently not enough for many Bangladeshis.
As often happens in blasphemy cases, the accusations of boil down to political score settling. The bloggers wrote that senior members of the Jamaat e Islami, the largest Bangladeshi Islamic party, should receive the death penalty for crimes committed during the 1971 independence war. In response, Islamists invoked the country’s blasphemy law and called for the bloggers to be killed.
Under Section 295A of Bangladesh’s Penal Code (1860), any person who has a deliberate or “malicious” intention of hurting religious sentiments is liable to imprisonment. There have been previous attempts by the Jamaat e Islami to create a law authorizing the death penalty for blasphemy, like Pakistan’s. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina firmly rejected calls to strengthen blasphemy laws, reaffirming that “this country is a secular democracy.” But Hasina defended the law in the current form.
By Brian Dooley
Director, Human Rights Defenders Program
This Saturday Manchester United legend Denis Law is going to Bahrain to promote the 2013 Manchester United Soccer School (MUSS). Law’s appearance comes just one week before the Formula One race will take place in Bahrain. “The visit is set to happen during a significant time in Bahrain’s sporting calendar and is aimed at further strengthening Bahrain’s profile as a major host of sporting activities by raising its international profile,” says the event’s sponsor, telecom operator VIVA.
While Law is there promoting the school, it might be nice if he went to see the family of Ahmad Shams, the 15 year-old boy who was shot by the police, according to his family, while wearing a Man United shirt in March 2011, or popped in to see Dr. Fatima Haji, one of the medics in Bahrain who was tortured and interrogated about her connection to Man United.
Ahmed Shams was playing soccer with his friends near his home in Sar on March 30 2011, his family told me, when he was killed by security forces. Around 5:30 p.m. in a quiet area, two groups of security vehicles appeared, nine in all. When the boys playing saw them, they ran, and the police started shooting rubber bullets at them.