Thursday, June 28, 2007

Torture in the News

Top Story
President Blows Off Students Expressing Concern About Torture

"We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants." This from a letter presented to the President on Monday by 50 of the nation's brightest high school seniors. The students, selected as members of this year's national Presidential Scholars, handed the statement to President Bush during a photo op in the East Room. Bush, apparently taken by surprise, glanced through the letter and then dismissed it with the familiar mantra that "the United States does not torture and that we value human rights." (For more on "the United States does not torture," see the bottom story in this segment of Torture in the News.)
Three of the kids explain why they confronted the President in this CNN interview. Wow!

Also in the News

Torture Continues in Nepal, Zimbabwe, and the Ukraine

In a report released Tuesday, Advocacy Forum Nepal, a human rights NGO, announced that the Nepalese Army and Nepalese Maoist rebels are equal opportunity torturers. The AFN has recorded over 1,300 new cases since April 2006. In that same time period, nearly 28% of detainees claim they were tortured, with minors suffering the worse abuse.
According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, torture is on the upswing for the third straight year in Zimbabwe, with 300 alleged cases occuring so far this year. Along with Angola, Zimbabwe is the only Southern African Development Community (SADC) that refuses to sign the International Convention on Torture. There are 14 nations in the SADC.
You most definitely don't want to be arrested in the Ukraine. According to reports filed by the UN Committee Against Torture, the Council of Europe, and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Ukrainians are regularly subjected to torture from the moment of their arrest to their subsequent conviction and imprisonment. As detainees, they're tortured to elicit "confessions." As convicted criminals, they're tortured just because guards enjoy ass-kicking.

UK Attorney General Calls for Investigation

Lord Goldsmith, the UK Attorney General who will soon vacate his post, earlier this week called for an inquiry into allegations that British troops stationed in Iraq have tortured detainees. Goldsmith's call comes on the heels of the acquittal of members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment accused of prisoner abuse.

More Revelations of Cheney's Involvement in Prisoner Abuse

In Part II of their series on the Vice (and I do mean vice) Presidency of Dick Cheney, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker chronicle Cheney's hardline defense of torture in the war on terror that led to the administration's notorious distinction between illegal torture and permissible cruelty in the treatment of detainees.
(Hat tip to Kim)