Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Human Rights Watch: 62-page report : "No Questions Asked..."

Don’t Accept Torture Intelligence From Abusive Countries

Human Rights Watch

"Berlin, Paris, and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence. Taking information from torturers is illegal and just plain wrong."

(London) June 28, 2010 -- France, Germany, and the United Kingdom use foreign intelligence obtained under torture in the fight against terrorism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 62-page report, "No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture," analyzes the ongoing cooperation by the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom with foreign intelligence services in countries that routinely use torture. The three governments use the resulting foreign torture information for intelligence and policing purposes. Torture is prohibited under international law, with no exceptions allowed.

"Berlin, Paris, and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence," said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Taking information from torturers is illegal and just plain wrong."

The intelligence services in France, Germany, and the UK do not have detailed instructions on how to assess and follow-up on information coming from countries that torture, Human Rights Watch said. Parliamentary oversight in each country is also inadequate.

Intelligence services in all three countries claim it is impossible to know the sources and methods used to acquire shared information. But officials in the UK and Germany have made public statements indicating that they believe it is sometimes acceptable to use foreign intelligence even if it is obtained under torture. Such statements send the wrong message to abusive governments, Human Rights Watch said.

Information tainted by torture has also been used in criminal and other proceedings in France and Germany, Human Rights Watch said, despite both international and domestic rules banning the use of torture evidence in any proceedings.

The report cites the case of Djamel Beghal, whose statements made under ill-treatment in the United Arab Emirates were used against him in a French court, where he was on trial for plotting a terrorist attack. In another example, the alleged confession of a man known as Abu Attiya under ill-treatment in Jordan was used against terrorism suspects on trial in France. German courts have allowed as evidence the summaries of interrogations of three high-profile terrorism suspects in incommunicado US detention, as well as evidence collected as result of statements made by Aleem Nasir, a Pakistan-born German citizen suspected of terrorist ties, while in the custody of the notorious Pakistani intelligence services.

Human Rights Watch said that in practice, overseas torture material can end up being used in court because the burden falls on defendants to prove it was obtained under torture, a nearly impossible task.

"The rules meant to exclude torture from the courts don't work," Sunderland said. "It should be up to prosecutors to prove that evidence originating in countries that torture wasn't obtained through abuse."

The use of torture intelligence in the fight against terrorism by France, Germany, and the UK damages the credibility of the European Union, Human Rights Watch said. The actual practices of these leading EU states contradict the EU's anti-torture guidelines, which make eradicating torture and ill-treatment a priority in its relations with other countries. Over the long-term, abuses in the name of countering terrorism also feed the grievances that fuel radicalization and recruitment to terrorism, Human Rights Watch said.

The global ban on torture under international law imposes clear obligations: states must never torture or be complicit in torture, and they must work toward the prevention and eradication of torture worldwide. States must repudiate torture in their own territories, and never encourage or condone torture anywhere in the world. Cross-border intelligence cooperation is vital in the fight against international terrorism, but it cannot, under international law, operate in contradiction to these obligations.

France, Germany, and the UK can engage in necessary intelligence cooperation without undermining the global torture ban, Human Rights Watch said. To do so, they must make genuine inquiries of countries that provide information to determine whether torture was used to obtain it and to determine what steps the authorities have taken to hold to account those responsible for any abuse that comes to light.

Cooperation should be suspended in cases where there are grounds to believe torture or ill-treatment were used to obtain shared information. There is also a need for tighter parliamentary oversight of intelligence cooperation, and stronger rules to prevent torture material from entering the judicial process.

"Europe has been forced to confront its complicity in US counterterrorism abuses," Sunderland said. "It is time for France, Germany, and the UK to take responsibility for their own role in third-party abuse, and to ensure that their intelligence cooperation isn't perpetuating abuse."

Human Rights Watch called on the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to:

* Publically repudiate reliance on intelligence material obtained from third countries through the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment;
* Reaffirm the absolute prohibition on the use of torture evidence in any kind of proceeding;
* Clarify procedure rules on excluding torture evidence in criminal and civil proceedings to make clear that where an allegation that a statement was made under torture is raised, the burden of proof is on the state to show that it was not made under torture;
* Ensure that national intelligence services have clear guidance on appropriate engagement with partner services with known records of torture, and that intelligence cooperation arrangements with third countries include clear human rights stipulations, including the duty to discontinue cooperation in an individual case if credible allegations of torture come to light;
* Strengthen parliamentary oversight over national intelligence services; and
* Ensure that any form of complicity in torture is a criminal offense in domestic law, and that state agents who are complicit in torture anywhere in the world are prosecuted, including those who systematically receive information from countries and agencies known to practice torture.

To read, "No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture," please visit: here

Human Rights Watch Press release

HREA - www.hrea.org

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.


Connie L. Nash said...

More news at http://www.nogitmos.org/news

News Digest for June 29, 2010

06/29 / Andy Worthington / Obama’s Moral Bankruptcy Regarding Torture

06/29 / Jesse James Deconto / News & Observer (North Carolina) / Observer will keep sunshine on Gitmo

06/29 / Press TV / Londoners protest US renditions

06/29 / Roger Cuthbertson and Coleen Rowley / Twin Cities Daily Planet (Minnesota) / Sad clouds hang over St. Thomas Law graduation

06/29 / Rahael G. Satter / Associated Press / Under pressure, UK promises torture guidelines

More news at http://www.nogitmos.org/news

Connie L. Nash said...

Londoners protest US renditions
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 08:10:35 GMT

The London-based Guantanamo Campaign has held a protest in front of US embassy building in London to voice solidarity with the tens of thousands of victims of extraordinary renditions.

Under former US government, the practice of "extraordinary rendition" was used to apprehend and detain foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The agents used to arrest and secretly transfer a suspect to prisons run by foreign intelligence agencies in countries know how to torture, or to CIA-run "black sites".

Those suspects experienced unspeakable horrors under detention. They used to keep them in squalid conditions where many of them faced interrogation under torture, including water-boarding, electrocutions, beatings, extreme isolation, and psychological torture.

The London protest was organized to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Human rights organizations and civil liberty campaigners have called for an independent inquiry into the UK's role in torture and rendition in the course of the so-called US-led war on terror. They estimate that between 40,000 to more than 200,000 people have fallen victim to rendition practices so far.

The London-based Guantanamo Campaign said “Prisons such as Bagram {in Afghanistan} continue to grow in size and stories of torture and abuse, including those involving the British security services, continue to emerge. This illegal practice and international complicity in it must end."

Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, chair of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers Liz Davies, Ilyas Townsend from Justice for Aafia Coalition and Joy Hurcombe of Brighton Against Guantanamo addressed the gathering in front of the US embassy building.

The British government has also been lashed out at by Amnesty International for its complicity in a host of "grave human rights violations" since the September 2001 attacks in the US.

The Amnesty cited "credible evidence" in a March report that the UK government was involved in torturing, unlawful detention, rendition, and covering up of victims lawsuits against interrogators.


Press TV Find more at nogitmos dot org/news

Connie L. Nash said...

BY JESSE JAMES DECONTO - Staff Writer North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL -- Running a group of insurance companies, J. Adam Abram works to help people make the best of bad situations.

And that's what he'll do next week as an official observer at a military commission hearing for Noor Uthman Muhammed, a Sudanese citizen held at Guantanamo Bay for the past seven years.

"I'm not making a judgment about whether people are innocent or guilty," said Abram, CEO of the James River Group. "I think we want to treat people around the world the way we would want to be treated. How comfortable would we feel if one of our soldiers was in a like circumstance?"

The military says Noor was a weapons instructor in the late 1990s at the Khalden Training Camp in Afghanistan and was captured in Pakistan in 2002 at the home of a senior al-Qaida operative.

"He's accused of buying a fax machine for Osama Bin Laden," Abram said. "He's not accused of ever having fought against U.S. troops."

Thirty years ago, Abram made his living as a freelance journalist in the Triangle, covering military trials like the murder case against Jeffrey McDonald at Fort Bragg and the conviction of Vietnam deserter Robert Garwood at Camp Lejeune.

Since then, he has built a career in business, but he still wants to contribute to the free flow of information, especially after several veteran journalists were recently banned from the Guantanamo courtrooms because they released the name of a military interrogator who had already identified himself in a Canadian newspaper.

"These are very experienced reporters who have been following these trials very carefully and reporting on them from the very beginning," Abram said. "Banning these reporters is going to limit the information and diminish the quality of the information that the public has about this."

Abram plans to blog about the trial at humanrightsfirst .org and triangle .com .

"I think it's really important that as much information as possible be provided about these commission hearings so that people can come to understand whether or not they're fair," he said. "Without observers or reporters there, they would in essence be happening in secret."

Whom the U.S. detains

Abram serves on the boards of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and of Human Rights First, which he'll represent in Cuba.

Headquartered in New York, Human Rights Firstuses pro bono litigation and other forms of advocacy to fight for the rule of law against government abuses around the world. Abram first got involved before the 2008 election, as the organization crafted an updated agenda for global human-rights protection.

Abram's observation at Guantanamo Bay will be limited to the four-day hearing next week. He'll fly from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Monday and return by military aircraft on Thursday evening. Another observer from Human Rights First may replace him at future hearings.

The week's hearing could center on whether the Pentagon should be allowed to reassign the military defense lawyer that has represented Noor for the past seven years. Noor's military commission could spend more than a year reviewing the classified evidence against him before the trial ever begins. So far, Abram is not convinced the case is very strong.

"As a matter of policy, does the United States mean to go all around the world and arrest and detain people who may not like us but aren't actively fighting us?" he said. "That'd be a lot of people."
jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/29/556363/observer-will-keep-sunshine-on.html#ixzz0sGvLpWBg

Connie L. Nash said...

A note just came in from one of the most Active and Effective US peace/justice activists which is also from The Velvet Revolution...
Here are several ways our efforts to RESTORE the constitution and our hard and ongoing work for justice and relief from torture/war are working.

SEE: www.RestoreJusticeAtJustice.com

Is GOOD Indeed...

Wed, June 30, 2010 10:01:08 AM

Two Big Victories For Our Campaigns!]
David Swanson <david@davidswanson.org

Two Big Successes For Our Campaigns!
The DISCLOSE Act Passes The House And Don Siegelman’s Political Prosecution Overturned.

House Passes DISCLOSE Act

Last week, as part of our Protect Our Elections campaign, we asked you to contact Congress with calls and letters demanding passage of the DISCLOSE Act to mitigate the corrosive influence of unlimited corporate money on our elections. Partisans, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Tea Party Express, had spent millions to defeat the bill yet we persisted in our quest to get it passed. And on the day of the House vote, you answered our call surpassing over 8000 calls and letters to win the vote! Congress members say that we really helped to make the difference. Thank you.

The Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement blasting the vote: "The Democratic majority in the House jammed through a piece of legislation that clearly violates the Constitution, as well as basic principles of fairness and equity. The Supreme Court calls it 'viewpoint discrimination,' and every first-year law student knows that it's illegal."

Please make sure to let your friends know that we have succeeded so far but the fight is not over. We have to get this through the Senate too. And if you have not yet signed on the petition, please (find it) and do so:

Don Siegelman’s Criminal Conviction Vacated By Supreme Court

Several years ago, we launched our Restore Justice At Justice campaign to urge the Department of Justice to reverse the political prosecutions of the Bush Administration. The poster child for these prosecutions is Don Siegelman who was personally targeted by Karl Rove because he was a popular Democrat in the South. The Court of Appeals last year threw out some of Siegelman’s convictions but let several stand under the “honest services” statute.

But yesterday, in a one sentence order, the Supreme Court vacated the convictions of Siegelman and his co-defendant Richard Scrushy, remanding the case to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of a decision from last week that undermined convictions for “honest services.”

In short, the Supreme Court held that federal prosecutions for “honest services” should only take place in clear cases of bribery, something that is not present in Siegelman’s case, where he was accused of appointing a political donor to a job after he donated to a state education fund. So now the Court of Appeals will get to apply to new honest services standards to Siegelman’s case and, if it does so fairly, will have to reverse the convictions.

Again, we want to thank all of you for helping us with our campaign to correct the injustice against Siegelman and all those targeted by the Bush DOJ. Thousands of ordinary citizens signed on to the campaign. If you have not yet done so, go to

www.RestoreJusticeAtJustice.com and do so.