America is the world’s biggest human rights abuser
Guantánamo Bay - Sexual and other humiliation, sleep deprivation, hooding, stripping, loud music, white noise, extremes of heat and cold and “waterboarding” (technique which refers to simulated drowning). Many innocent young men and boys are being held without charge, in secrecy and without fair trials. How could such a travesty of justice continue today?
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Torture is Illegal (thus making "waterboarding" illegal)...
As the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the USA in 1994, defines torture as: 'any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act... when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.'
And states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency may be invoked as a justification of torture”. [http://www.hrweb.org/legal/cat.html]]
'Nothing justifies' these methods. The people who flew the planes into the twin towers ARE dead. The prisoners formerly at Guantanamo Bay were largely 'suspects-only', not people definitely involved in any terrorist event. 'Innocent until proven guilty' is relevant here. America expects other Countries to respect and follow the convention. Claiming that it is too harsh for Herself is hypocrisy/'a double-standard'
Lawful-sanctions-defined,here:'The UN Committee Against Torture: an assessment' by Chris Ingelse,United Nations. Committee against Torture pg 211]]Your point on lawful sanctions is irrelevant, since it states that under NO conditions will certain methods of torture be acceptable to discipline prisoners and I quote: "Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel,inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offenses"
Surely the wording of the Convention is too harsh?
“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency may be invoked as a justification of torture”.
September 11 2001 and the following events surely justify such interrogation methods?
'It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.' so what are possible lawful sanctions?
In 1947, the USA prosecuted such water torture as a war crime...
In 1947 the USA prosecuted Yukio Asano for 'willfully and unlawfully mistreating and torturing PWs' this included 'beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward' for this he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.[UC Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~warcrime/Japan/Yokohama/Reviews/Yokohama_Review_Asano.htm%5D%5D
So why is the USA using it six decades on?
IT is not the job of 'Prison Guards' to make prisoners squeal/speak. They only have the responsibility of making sure
that prisoners do not escape, period.
They are not permitted, by the most important international convention(the Geneva Convention) on the treatment of prisoners, to discipline, FORGET torture and interrogate them.
Modern water boarding is rather different to the kind of torture that Yukio Asano would have committed upon his detainees. Today no water actually enters the mouth so it is purely psychological with no physical element
Also Islamic terrorists have had training to resist torture so previous interrogation methods do not work on them, tougher measures and methods should be employed to make them speak.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) should face an independent and prompt criminal investigation for undertaking torture
Torture is a crime under international law. The US is bound under the UN Convention against Torture to prosecute those who engage in it. The fact waterboarding was used is not in dispute but no one has been held accountable for its authorisation and implementation and they should be.
The CIA must be subject to national and international law in order to illustrate that the USA condemns all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments. It is not enough to say they condemn it, action must be taken which demonstrates that is so.
Whilst it may be right that individuals following orders they believe to be legal should not face prosecution the people responsible for a system which is clearly illegal and most likely immoral should be identified, brought before a court and made accountable for their actions. This may mean mitigating circumstances but "The fact that you carried out an order doesn't relieve you of your responsibility". A criminal investigation by an independent body is the only mechanism to achieve this. At the very least there should be an independant review and compensation for the victims. [CIA torture exemption illegal, BBC news Sunday, 19 April 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8006597.stm%5D%5D
A criminal investigation will do nothing but embolden terrorists and weaken America’s response. It might easily reveal all kinds of national security issues that enemies of America could use to their own advantage and at the very least will weaken and demoralise a service America desperately needs in these troubled times.
We should move on and not look back. There is nothing to be gained from witch-hunts that are more politically motivated than rooted in a desire to find the truth and heal wounds. This is nothing more than the left wanting the right to suffer. Not only should the left be deeply embarassed about taking such actions but they should be reprimanded for the negative consequences of such selfish behaviour.
The United States should be held to higher moral standards
The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and is seen (and sees itself) as a role model for the rest of the world, particularly in areas such as freedom and human rights. These are western ideas and if even the west cant uphold them how can we ask other cultures to think of them as universal and adopt them. This means that while the USA’s human rights abuses may be fewer in number, and not of such great severity than the abuses by countries such as North Korea and Uzbekistan they matter much more.
In today's postcolumbian world, there is no room for the selfish actions of Superpowers disregarding the consequences for smaller countries as said actions become more defiant and outspoken. However, whilst the place of the nation-state is becoming less important as far as viewing the world as an economic mass is concerned, the geopolitical arena still accounts it's big players to "take charge" and thus, take responsibility to set an example to others.
It is the most powerful who should be leading, so not just the USA. So China must live up to the human rights promises it made around the Olympic Games and allow free speech and freedom of the press and end "re-education through labour". The USA must close Guantánamo detention camp and secret detention centres, prosecute the detainees under fair trial standards or release them, and unequivocally reject the use of torture and ill-treatment. Russia must show greater tolerance for political dissent, and none for impunity on human rights abuses in Chechnya. And the EU must investigate the complicity of its member states in "renditions" of terrorist suspects and set the same bar on human rights for its own members as it does for other countries[Amnesty International, State of the World 2008, http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/report-08-at-a-glance%5D%5D
Obama changes things
Obama is changing the USA's policy on human rights by the USA meaning there will no longer be a case of 'do what we say not what we do'. Obama is closing down Guantanimo bay which should go some way to restoring the USA's credibility in human rights. The Bush Administration was seen as having a culture that allowed Human rights abuses and was not too bothered about being attacked for it so long as such abuses could be justified on the basis of national security as shown by Condoleezza Rice having approved the use of water-boarding.[Further US torture revelations highlight need for independant comission of inquiry, Amnesty, 23 April 2009 http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/further-us-torture-revelations-highlight-need-independent-commission-inquiry-20090423%5D%5D The culture in Obama's administration is different as shown by his general tone towards human rights, his willingness to close Guantanamo and also by his willingness to engage with the UN's Human Rights council despite it being dominated, and used by countries that have tarnished human rights records.[Anne Bayefsky, Obama's Human Rights Fiasco, Foreign Policy The Argument, http://experts.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/03/the_uns_human_wrongs_council%5D%5D
Obama is closing Guantanamo by executive order, however this does not bind presidents that come after him essentially leaving a loophole that will allow Guantanimo to be used again in the future.[Obama's Guantanamo Mistake: He is not closing Gitmo the right way, Huffington Post, January 22nd 2009 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brandt-goldstein/obamas-guantnamo-mistake_b_160028.html%5D%5D
Now and then...
Arguably, in 1947, the Americans were dealing with another type of threat. September 11 2001 and the events that have followed (in Madrid and London) justify American use of water torture, as this is would make terrorist suspects speak, for our own good.
9/11 was caused by Osama bin Laden: Who gave about 30 extremists money and logistical help to attack the USA. Apart from that 'tiny' group, nobody wanted to attack America; the middle east was pre-occupied with its own internal disputes.
"Al Qaeda" was a term invented by one man in a US court seeking witness protection. he testified vividly and perhaps comically about "A huge evil lab in the mountains" and "how Bin Laden was a criminal master mind."
Neoconservatives (like former President Bush) figured, wrongly that 9/11 could be used as an excuse to get away with anything, including violating the Geneva convention.
Torture is a highly unreliable method of truth detection. Its very basis is using pain to make people talk. And with enough pain, you can get an innocent person to confess; too.
Prosecuting the very people that protect us...
Is exactly what we would be doing if we continue to pursue legal action against the CIA personnel involved in using water (and other kinds of) torture. Isn't national security paramount to the techniques we use to keep our country safe?
The Bush administration have proclaimed that they were in Iraq to free the iraqi people from dictatorship and promised democracy (or death to those nasty insurgents who annoy them), and prosperity. (presumably for Iraq and not the US who steal their oil.)
However Iraq turned into a war against an insurgency that drove Human rights abuses within Iraq with torture and dehumanisation being practiced in order to try to catch the insurgents such as at Abu Graihb. In such cases only the most junior members of the military were prosicuted and not those who issued the orders or those right at the top such as Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld who created a culture where techniques putting pressure on suspects was tolerated or encouraged.
Likewise, the pressure on the interrogators to provide evidence and intellegence meant that even more provokative and extreme cases and techniques were used in order to make the detainee speak. However, it is widely known that detainees will say what they think the interrogator wants to hear in order to stop the pain.
Prosecuting the very people that protect us is what any truly democratic society should do. In the same way that you would want to see corruption being prosecuted, the same morales apply here. A "few bad apples" as Rumsfeld said, were ultimately the scapegoats for the Bush administration.
A Supreme court ruling was twisted by the administration and the legislation contained a provision basically pardoning the administration from all the wrong-doing and warcrimes that happened.
depends on viewpoint
Who is the world's worst human rights abuser really depends on who's viewpoint you are taking. North Korea argues 'The United States is not entitled to talk about human rights as it is the world's worst human rights abuser.' North Korea then gives a long list of human rights abuses that the USA carries out 'In the U.S. the absolute majority of working people are like more dead than alive with their elementary rights to clothing, food and housing deprived. The same can be said of the right concerning personal inviolability. The right to labor, one of major rights related to existence, is ruthlessly violated there. The right to job, the right to get a fair reward for the labor done, the right to safe and hygienic working conditions and rational working hours, and the like are nothing but empty talk... The U.S. also ranks first in violating children's rights...'[Kcna, March 11 2009 http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2009/200903/news11/20090311-15ee.html%5D%5D etc etc, it goes on. However most of these acusations are not grounded in reality.
The United States on the other hand puts North Korea near the top of its own list of worst human rights abusers and not surprisingly it itself is not on. Therefore if everyone thinks each other are the worst human rights abuser then should we not stop pointing fingers. We should instead be concentrating on individual rights abuses and atempting to ameliorate them rather than a sweeking dismisal of a countries' human rights record.
The answer to who is "the world's worst human rights abuser" with regards to personal viewpoints is amibiguous at best. Relying on qualitative analyis of opinions, the points argued here must both be argued for and against if you are to get a clear view. Unfortunately for the United States, the unrest in political opinion of the USA is dwindling as the world becomes much more skeptically aligned.
If a survey were to ask everyone honestly and individually on their unbiased thoughts without them having preconceptual ideas of patrionism or loyalty, this difference in viewpoints would be expected to at smallest show a discourse in US relations and at largest provide unbiased evidence into the standing of the USA with regards to human rights abuse.
To cite the wellknown phrase, the grass is always greener on the other side, can the reader link this argument to a childish game of tell-tale "Im better than you" scenarios? Whilst viewpoints are different, whos place is it to decide WHICH viewpoint is superior in the face of another? Surely in the same way as a murderer cannot vote for innocence with the same effect as the jury makes the decision, the USA is the country in question for this debate topic and thus their "viewpoint" is rendered invalid.
Why is the focus on Guantanimo bay? How does Guantanimo bay and the abuse of 430 or so suspected terrorists[Amnesty USA Factsheet http://www.amnestyusa.org/america/FactSheet.pdf%5D%5D compare to the excecution of 1100 people (possibly many times more) in china,[World Excecution numbers fall' The Guardian, Friday 27th April 2007 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/27/iran.sudan%5D%5D or even the excecutions the USA does? Guantanimo bay is simply the banner issue that is used to attack the United States with when there are many more abuses throughout the world that need to be adressed.
EMPHASIS on SUSPECTED and 'guards' are not supposed to punish/torture/rape/humiliate/interrogate prisoners.It is not their JOB.
Whilst general consensus can agree that no country has a perfect track record with regards to human rights, especially as we as humans are constantly a warring race, it is also agreed that amongst these atroscious acts over the last century at least, some countries are much larger offenders than others.
Attention in the media today is constantly focused on Middle Eastern events and as thus, certain truths have come to light.
Guantanimo Bay is a disgusting use of American initiative in which Geneva conventions jurisdiction can be avoided through the technicality that as a Cuban site, the prisoners are not technically under U.S jurisdiction. This however does not excuse other detainment centers such as Abu Gharaib, where many disturbing pictures arose.
'AS FAR AS NUMBERS are concerned, 83,000 is equal to the number of people who have been arrested and held at US-run detention facilities with no trial or other due process of law, during the Bush Administration's war on terror'.
Let us pitch this fact in line with the quote that "The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq." [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/torture-it-probably-killed-more-americans-than-911-1674396.html]] This somewhat controversial yet understandable statement (coming from a soldier experiencing day to day the consequences of the coalition occupation) may not be an accurate representation of figures, but is still an account of American abuse being recognised as unacceptable.
What do you think?