Special U.N. Rapporteur on Human Rights Calls for Granting of Habeas Corpus Rights to Prisoners and an End to Indefinite Detentions

December 12, 2007 12:00 am

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ACLU Human Rights Expert Echoes Call for Increased Accountability for U.S. Officials

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GENEVA — The United Nation’s independent investigator on human rights in the fight against terrorism today urged the United States to release all people detained as “enemy combatants,” close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and abolish military commissions.

In his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on his official visit to the United States in May, Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights While Countering Terrorism, also recommended the Military Commissions Act of 2006 be amended to grant Guantánamo Bay detainees habeas corpus rights and the ability to seek full judicial review of their combatant status, and that the interrogation techniques of U.S. officials comply with international standards.

In a statement that will be formally delivered to the U.N. Human Rights Council tomorrow, Jamil Dakwar, Advocacy Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, said Scheinin’s assessment came as no surprise.

“Over the past six years, we have witnessed the U.S. government abandon the bedrock principle of respect for the rule of law,” Dakwar said.

Dakwar decried the fact that U.S. officials have not been held accountable for carrying out torture and abuse against prisoners held in their custody and called on the American government to commit itself to abiding by the U.S. Constitution and international law.

“Based on official government documents, it is quite clear that senior U.S. officials have been directly and indirectly involved in the widespread systemic abuse and torture of prisoners. Yet not a single high-ranking military or civilian leader has been criminally investigated and charged for these crimes,” Dakwar said. “We urge the U.S. government to implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur and bring an end to indefinite and secret detention, torture and abuse, unfair trials and the unlawful practice of renditions.”

Scheinin was appointed in 2005 by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which has since been subsumed by the Human Rights Council. He is charged with working with all relevant parties, including governments, to exchange information and promote the best counterterrorism practices that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

A full copy of Dakwar’s statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council can be found online at:

A full copy of the Special Rapporteur’s report can be found online at:

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