Document - النشرة الإخبارية مايو/أيار 2008

The Wire

May 2008 Vol. 38. No. 4

AI Index: NWS 21/004/2008



Mauritania’s ‘Guantanamito’


Migrants continue to be held in cramped and filthy conditions in a former school in Nouadhibou, northern Mauritania. Accused of trying to leave the country “illegally” for the Canary Islands, an “offence” that is not considered a crime under Mauritanian law, they face several days’ detention before being deported to Mali or Senegal. More than 4,000 migrants have been held at the school since 2006, when it was converted into a detention centre by the Spanish authorities.

The centre, designed to stop irregular migrants from entering Spain, has no official name. The authorities call it a “retention” or “internment” centre. But local people in Nouadhibou call it “Guantanamito” – “little Guantánamo”. Whatever it is called, the centre is unregulated and exists completely outside the law.

When Amnesty International visited it in early March, it found 62 people crammed into two classrooms measuring 8x5m each. Among them were 35 migrants who had been deported from Morocco after failing to reach Spain by sea. People were locked up for almost the whole day inside these filthy, poorly ventilated classrooms. They could be held for a few days or more before being deported. As the centre is unregulated, there is no maximum detention period even though the Mauritanian authorities do their utmost to deport them as quickly as possible.

“The Red Cross brings us food, but that’s it,” one detainee, aged 17, told Amnesty International. “We eat on the bed, we piss in a bucket... No one talks to us, they’re going to deport us, God help us.”

Since 2006, when migration routes to Spain through Ceuta and Melilla became more tightly controlled, hundreds of mainly West African migrants have been trying an alternative route via the Canary Islands from southern Morocco or Mauritania, notably Nouadhibou. They pay exorbitant amounts of money to the people who organize these trips. Sometimes, they also reportedly have to pay off security officials who allow migrants to leave the shore in return for a bribe, but later try to capture them on the beach or at sea.

In some cases, people have been arbitrarily arrested after being accused of being illegal immigrants. One man held at the Nouadhibou centre told Amnesty International: “On Saturday, 1 March... I was arrested in a taxi by the police who were looking for migrants. The police asked me for a bribe. I refused and was taken to the police station and then to the centre from where I am told I will be deported to Senegal.”

Some have also been subjected to ill-treatment. Just a few hours before Amnesty International visited the Nouadhibou centre, two detainees were brutally beaten by a police officer. Thrown to the ground, they were struck with a belt and stomped upon with spiked boots. The Mauritanian authorities have an obligation to stop seizing people arbitrarily, packing them into filthy rooms and deporting them without offering any means of appeal.


[Photo caption: Nouadhibou detention centre in northern Mauritania, March 2008. More than 4,000 migrants have been held there in dire conditions since 2006. © Amnesty International]


Leave or be killed


Women living in Brazil’s shanty towns struggle to survive against a backdrop of gang and police violence, discrimination and state neglect. Across the country, in thousands of favelas and marginalized communities, millions of Brazilians live under the control of criminal gangs. The absence of the state has created a vacuum which has allowed these gangs to dominate every aspect of life.

In May 2006, Amnesty International delegates visited a project working with teenage girls in the neighbourhood of Santo Amaro, one of the most violent in Recife. A number of 13 and 14-year-old girls and some of their parents talked about life in their communities. One girl said, “people leave rather than be killed. If you report it, you’ll die”. Such is the power of the gangs that the girls could not link up with a similar project nearby because that meant crossing into another gang’s territory where they risked being attacked. Above all, they felt that the police had no presence in the community: “police only come to collect the bodies”.

Policing of favelas consists mainly of containing crime within communities. The presence of the police generally takes the form of invading groups exchanging fire with criminals and terrorizing residents. Rarely, if ever, do they bring long-term sustained protection.

Although women may not be the main targets of police operations, the effects of such violence on their lives is both profound and, until recently, largely ignored. Women are threatened and attacked when they try to protect male relatives. They experience verbal and even sexual abuse at the hands of the police and they are injured and killed in the crossfire. In March 2007, Alana Ezequiel was shot dead, just one week before her 13th birthday. She was killed by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and drug traffickers in the Morro do Macaco community in Rio de Janeiro.

Shootouts between gangs and police during militarized policing operations cost thousands of lives. They also result in long-term closures

of schools, businesses and health clinics which have a huge impact on women, reinforcing patterns of social exclusion. In Jardim Ângela, São Paulo, Amnesty International was told that women about to give birth had to be taken to hospital by community police officers because no other transport was available.

Only a small percentage of Brazil’s prison population are women, but their numbers are rising. Recent studies have revealed the intolerable conditions and discrimination they experience. Women are being subjected to physical and psychological abuse – and in some cases rape; the denial of the right to minimum adequate access to health is widespread. The state has failed these women on many levels. Above all it has allowed human rights violations to go unpunished and so helped entrench patterns of abuse.

Despite the scale of the problems faced by women trying to survive in communities wracked by crime and corruption with little or no support from the state, their experiences have remained largely hidden. But initiatives by women at risk and other human rights defenders have led to the development of a new form of activism and empowerment. A vibrant women’s movement is ensuring that women’s stories are at last starting to be heard.

See Picking up the pieces – Women’s experience of urban violence in Brazil (AMR 19/001/2008).


[Photo caption: A military police officer aims a machine gun at a woman as people protest beside the body of a victim killed during a police operation in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, February 2007. © Ricardo Moraes/AP/PA Photos]



3 May – World Press Freedom Day


Eight journalists have been killed so far in 2008, and 128 are in prison for their work. ‘Subversion’, ‘divulging state secrets’ and ‘acting against national interests’ are the most common charges to justify imprisoning journalists worldwide.


Zimbabwe – Radio Dialogue: still denied a licence


Radio Dialogue, a radio production house based in Bulawayo in south-west Zimbabwe, is still waiting for a licence to broadcast.

Radio Dialogue and other broadcasters have fallen foul of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), set up in 2001 to issue licences to radio and television stations. Seven years on, not only has BAZ refused to issue a single licence to private radio stations but in May 2002 it shut down JOY TV, Zimbabwe’s only independent television station.

Radio Dialogue is a non-profit-making community initiative that seeks to establish a radio station which broadcasts to the people of Bulawayo and the surrounding areas. It aims to provide a channel for debate and information-sharing on economic, political, social, cultural and development issues. Its producers spend their time talking to the community, stimulating debate and recording their experiences.

As yet, these testimonies cannot be heard. In the meantime, Radio Dialogue continues to function as a recording and production studio, so that it will be ready to go on air should it be granted a licence. By carrying out road shows it maintains contact with the community that it serves. It also campaigns tirelessly for the licensing of community broadcasters in Zimbabwe.

On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International and Radio Dialogue are launching a campaign to urge the Zimbabwean authorities to grant a licence to Radio Dialogue. To learn more about the work of Radio Dialogue, log on to www.radiodialogue.com. To take part in the campaign, please contact Amnesty International via www.amnesty.org.

On 29 March, Zimbabweans voted in a general election which was preceded by intimidation and harassment of opposition activists. The results of the presidential vote had still not been announced nearly three weeks after the vote and state-sponsored violence perpetrated by police, the army, so-called “war-veterans” and ruling party supporters was on the increase.


[Photo caption: Radio Dialogue road show van, Zimbabwe, 2008. © Radio Dialogue]


Azerbaijan – heightened concerns for safety of independent journalists


Journalists in Azerbaijan striving to expose the misuse of government power live under the increasing threat of politically motivated arrests, physical assaults and even death.

Authorities continue to pressure media such as the Azadliq opposition newspaper to silence dissent. In August 2006, libel charges were brought against Azadliq and in October 2006, the newspaper, along with a number of other independent media outlets, was evicted from its premises in Baku.

On 7 March 2008, Qenimet Zahid, editor-in-chief of Azadliq, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on charges of “aggravated hooliganism” and “assault and battery”. It is alleged that he assaulted two passers-by outside the newspaper offices in November 2007, a charge he denies. In March 2005, he was allegedly abducted by policemen, beaten, undressed and photographed with alleged prostitutes. This material was then broadcast on pro-government TV channels. His brother Sakit Zahidov, a satirist for Azadliq, is currently serving a three-year sentence for illegal drug use, a charge which was not conclusively proved at his trial.

In February 2008, Azadliq correspondent Agil Xalilov was assaulted; some of the assailants were reportedly identified as local officials. On 13 March 2008, he was stabbed in the chest as he left his office. In April, footage was shown on several pro-government TV channels of a gay man alleging to be Agil Xalilov’s lover, admitting to stabbing him out of jealousy. Agil Xalilov denies knowing the gay man or being attacked by him. Reportedly, prior to the broadcast, investigators put pressure on Agil Xalilov to incriminate an Azadliq colleague in the stabbing by threatening to broadcast footage alleging his homosexuality, which is not widely accepted in Azerbaijan, on national TV.

Amnesty International is gravely concerned for the safety of Agil Xalilov and other independent journalists. As freedom of expression deteriorates in Azerbaijan, fears also increase that critical voices may be silenced ahead of the October Presidential elections.

Interview with Agil Xalilov after March stabbing (English subtitles): www.youtube.com

/watch?v=BRs-rPq2jnI&eurl

For more information, see Azerbaijan: Mixed messages on freedom of expression (EUR 55/002/2008).


[Photo caption: Journalists prevented from entering the offices of Realny Azerbaycan and Gündelik Azerbaycan newspapers, while National Security Officers carry out a search, May 2007. © IRFS]


1 May - International Workers’ Day


Hundreds of trade unionists are killed each year. Thousands more are imprisoned, beaten in demonstrations, tortured or sentenced to long prison terms. Many more lose their jobs merely for attempting to organize a trade union.


Honduras – a step closer to justice


On 31 January, two men suspected of involvement in the killing of the lawyer, Dionisio Díaz García, were arrested. The initial hearing, on 5 February, ordered that the men be held on remand. Formal charges will be presented at a preliminary hearing which is expected to take place shortly.

On 4 December 2006 Dionisio Díaz García was shot dead as he was driving to the Honduran Supreme Court to prepare for a hearing of a case that had been taken up by the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ), a Christian organization based in Honduras. At the time of his death he was representing a number of security guards who claimed that they had been unfairly dismissed by a private security company.

In the weeks before and after Dionisio Díaz García’s murder, other members of the ASJ were threatened and intimidated. Three days after the killing, Carlos Hernandez, President of the ASJ, received a text message which read: “You are next because you are the [head].”

As part of a Week of Action in December 2007 to coincide with Dionisio Díaz García’s killing, the ASJ met the Honduran authorities and foreign ambassadors. Amnesty International members have been actively campaigning to protect ASJ members and to achieve justice for Dionisio Díaz García.

In a message of thanks to Amnesty International members, the ASJ wrote: “We want to extend a very heartfelt thank-you to Amnesty... Without the advocacy and support of Amnesty and other organizations, these arrests would not have happened.”

Amnesty International will be closely monitoring the progress of the case and will continue to press for all those involved in the killing to be brought to justice.

For more information on this case and the dangers faced by human rights defenders in Honduras, see Persecution and resistance: The experience of human rights defenders in Guatemala and Honduras (AMR 02/001/2007).


Trade unionists targeted by all parties to Colombian conflict


More than 2,000 trade unionists have been killed in Colombia since 1986. More than 138 others have been victims of enforced disappearance. The vast majority of those responsible have not been brought to justice, and although the number of trade unionists killed in recent years has decreased, their safety remains a serious concern.

At least 39 trade union members were killed in 2007. Although this was a significant drop from the 72 killings in 2006, there was an overall increase in human rights violations against trade unionists from 382 to 418.

Recent figures for 2008, however, appear to indicate the 2007 decrease is only a temporary improvement. According to reports, at least 17 trade unionists were killed during the first three months of the year.

Most killings of trade unionists are attributed to army-backed paramilitary groups and the security forces, who have persistently sought to undermine the work of trade unionists through killings and death threats. Guerrilla forces have also been responsible for killing trade unionists.

The Colombian authorities have repeatedly attempted to claim that trade unionists are largely targeted for reasons other than their trade union work. However, most killings of and threats against trade unionists have taken place during labour disputes.

The long-term security of trade unionists depends on decisive action by the Colombian authorities to end the impunity protecting those responsible for human rights abuses committed against them. Impunity for human rights abuses against trade unionists stands at over 90 per cent.

For more information, please see Colombia: Killings, arbitrary detentions, and death threats – the reality of trade unionism in Colombia (AMR 23/001/2007), available at www.amnesty.org. Contact your section to find out about working with Amnesty International Colombia groups on the campaign work taking place on trade unionists and human rights.


[Photo caption: Protesters demonstrate against the killing of Alejandro Uribe Chacón. © Private]


News and update


USA – Georgia Supreme Court upholds death sentence


The Georgia Supreme Court has refused to grant Troy Davis a new trial or hearing.

On 17 March, the Court rejected his appeal by four votes to three. His lawyers had requested a new trial after evidence emerged pointing to his possible innocence. The three dissenting judges argued that the majority had given insufficient consideration to the new evidence.

Troy Davis was granted a stay of execution on 16 July 2007, less than 24 hours before the execution was scheduled to take place. He has been on death row for more than 16 years for the murder of a police officer in 1989. His last chance against execution may now lie with the Georgia clemency board.

Troy Davis has always maintained his innocence.


[Photo caption: © Private]


Good news! Iranian death-sentence prisoner freed


Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, was released from Choubin prison in Qazvin province, north-western Iran on 17 March 2008. She had been imprisoned for 11 years.

Mokarrameh Ebrahimi was sentenced to death after being convicted of adultery, along with Ja'far Kiani with whom she had two children. Ja'far Kiani was stoned to death on 5 July 2007.

The public executions by stoning were initially scheduled for 17 June 2007. However, activists from Iran’s “Stop Stoning Forever” campaign publicized the planned execution, which led to a widespread domestic and international outcry, including from Amnesty International.

In mid-October 2007, the Head of the Judiciary sent Mokarrameh Ebrahimi’s case to the Amnesty and Clemency Commission, which ordered her release. She is believed to have been pardoned by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Shadi Sadr, leader of the “Stop Stoning Forever” campaign, said, “It was a rare ruling… you cannot deny the role of public opinion and domestic and international pressures.”

For more information, see Iran: End executions by stoning (MDE 13/001/2008).


Worldwide Appeals


Japan - 35 years on death row


“Please clear my false charge while I am alive.”

Okunishi Masaru, speaking to visitors in April 2005.


Okunishi Masaru, aged 82, has been on death row since 1972.

He was sentenced to death after being convicted of poisoning five women to death in the city of Nabari, in the south of Japan, on 28 March 1961. His wife and his lover were among the victims. He was accused of having served them with wine laced with agricultural chemicals. No evidence was found to prove that Okunishi Masaru had administered the poison.

Okunishi Masaru confessed to the crime after long interrogation sessions by the police, during which he was reportedly tortured. At his trial he retracted his confession and was found not guilty due to lack of evidence. The verdict was overturned on appeal by a higher court and he was sentenced to death. Despite his appeals for a retrial the death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 15 June 1972.

Finally, after his seventh attempt to appeal against the sentence, the Nagoya High Court granted him a retrial which began in April 2005. However, this was abandoned, reportedly because it was feared that if the death sentence was reversed it would undermine public confidence in the use of the death penalty in Japan.

Okunishi Masaru has now exhausted his appeals and could be executed at any time, unless he is pardoned by the Minister of Justice or granted a retrial.


å Please write to the authorities, urging them to reverse the death sentence imposed on Okunishi Masaru.

Send appeals to: Minister Hatoyama Kunio, Ministry of Justice, 1-1-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8977, Japan.

Fax: +81 3 3592 7088 or +81 3 5511 7200.

Email: webmaster@moj.go.jp

Salutation: Dear Minister


[Photo caption: © Private]


Azerbaijan - Editor sentenced to 11 years


Following several years of harassment at the hands of the authorities, opposition newspaper editor Eynulla Fetullayev was tried twice in 2007 and sentenced to a total of 11 years’ imprisonment. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience.

On 20 April 2007, Eynulla Fetullayev was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment for defamation. Internet postings, which he denied creating, replicated material he had written years earlier which diverged from the officially sanctioned history of the 1991-1994 war in Nagorny Karabakh.

On 20 October 2007, Eynulla Fetullayev was sentenced to a further eight and a half years’ imprisonment on three separate charges of terrorism, incitement of ethnic hatred and tax evasion. The first two charges related to articles in Realny Azerbaydzhan, one on possible targets in Azerbaijan in the event of a US-Iranian conflict, the other on ethnic proportionality in executive administrative positions. Both charges lacked credibility, and his lawyer said that the tax evasion charge, resulting in a fine of 200,000 new Azerbaijani manats (approximately US$ 235,000), was based on erroneous calculations.

On 16 January 2008 the Baku Court of Appeal upheld Eynulla Fetullayev’s October conviction; he is currently imprisoned at Prison No.12.


å Please write, calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Eynulla Fetullayev imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and to ensure that he receives appropriate compensation. Urge the authorities to ensure the thorough, impartial and conclusive investigation of attacks on journalists, and to bring those responsible to justice.

Send appeals to: President Ilham Aliyev, Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, 19 Istiqlaliyyat Street,

Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan.

Salutation: Dear President


[Photo caption: © IRFS]


Saudi Arabia - Brothers charged with ‘incitement to protest’


Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and his brother, 'Issa al-Hamid, have been sentenced to four and six months’ imprisonment respectively for “incitement to protest”. They had supported a peaceful demonstration by women outside the prison in Buraida in which the protesters called for their relatives, who are political detainees, to be charged and given fair trials, or else released.

A number of the women were arrested, but released shortly afterwards. Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and 'Issa al-Hamid were arrested at the same time, and released on bail after four days. They were later tried and convicted by a criminal court in Buraida, and began their prison sentences on 8 March 2008. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and at risk of torture and other ill-treatment in prison. Prior to his current imprisonment, Dr Abdullah al-Hamid was repeatedly detained without trial with other government critics for campaigning for freedom of expression and for the rights of detainees to be respected. In 2007, along with other activists, he reportedly called publicly for the King to end impunity for Ministry of Interior officials who commit human rights abuses.

The Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested and detained thousands of government critics and opponents in the name of the “war on terror.” Those who criticize the authorities often are subject to gross violations of their rights by members of the security forces who report to the Ministry of Interior. Many have been detained incommunicado and without charge or trial, denied access to lawyers and the courts, and tortured or otherwise ill-treated with impunity. Trials fall far short of international standards.


å Please write, calling on the authorities to release Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and his brother 'Issa al-Hamid, urging them to overturn the men’s convictions and sentences, and release them immediately and unconditionally.

Send appeals to:

Diplomatic representatives of Saudi Arabia accredited to your country.

Send copies to: Mr Turki bin Khaled Al-Sudairy, The President, The Human Rights Commission, PO Box 58889, Riyadh 11515, King Fahad Road, Building No.373, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Fax: +966 1 4612061


Turkey - Turkish lawyer threatened


Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer, human rights defender and newspaper columnist, has been threatened and intimidated because of his work. He received the threats while carrying out his legal work on behalf of three men killed in an attack at a Christian publishing house in the province of Malatya in south-east Turkey in April 2007.

When he travelled to Malatya to attend the trial of people accused of the murders, he read information in a local newspaper about him and other members of the legal team that could only have been obtained through interception of his telephone calls and emails. He later discovered that a letter had been sent to the Malatya prosecutor accusing him of involvement in the murders at the Zirve publishing house. Letters were also addressed to him containing threats to his safety. After repeated requests he was provided with a bodyguard on 27 February. However, the threats against him have not yet been investigated.

Orhan Kemal Cengiz has worked as a lawyer and human rights defender in Turkey for around 15 years. He was a founder member of Amnesty International Turkey and has represented victims of human rights violations across the political spectrum.

The three victims of the attack at the Zirve publishing house – two Turkish nationals and one German national – worked there as members of staff. They were bound hand and foot and had their throats slit. Staff had received death threats in the months before the murders.


å Please write to the Turkish authorities, calling for a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the threats against Orhan Kemal Cengiz and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Send appeals to: Duty Prosecutor Nobetci Savciligina, Ankara Cumhuriyet Savciligi, Ankara Adliye Binasi, Sihhiye/Ankara, Turkey.

Fax: +90 312 312 3940

Salutation: Dear Prosecutor


[Photo caption: © Private]



Thousands reach out to end violence in Kenya


Amnesty International led a “Reach out for Kenya” day of action on 27 February 2008, calling for an end to post-election violence and for all perpetrators of human rights abuses to be held accountable through fair trials.

In a global demonstration of solidarity with the people of Kenya, members around the world held vigils, collected signatures and protested outside Kenyan embassies to highlight the crisis and press for a resolution. A total of 10,753 petitions were presented to the Kenyan authorities on 27 March.

Since the disputed elections of 27 December 2007, Kenya has been torn apart by politically motivated and ethnic violence. At least 1,000 people were reportedly killed and more than 500,000 were internally displaced. Only a handful of those responsible have been arrested and charged.

The violence has since abated following the signing of a power-sharing agreement on 28 February. The mediation, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was supported by the African Union, European Union and the USA.

Proposals have also been agreed for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on the post-election violence, and for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that includes local and international jurists.

While these are positive steps by the Kenyan government, impunity for political violence in Kenya remains rife, in spite of similar proposals in the past. The “Akiwumi Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Tribal Clashes”, set up to investigate human rights violations in the run-up to the 1992 and 1997 general elections, failed to effect positive action by the government. None of the individuals cited in the Commission’s report recommendations have been investigated or brought to justice.

Amnesty International members continue the campaign to end impunity in Kenya by meeting with representatives of the Kenyan government in their country, demonstrating the level of international public concern.


[Photo captions: Clockwise from top right: Members of Amnesty International Mexico protest outside the Centro Cultural José Martí in support of Reach Out for Kenya Day, Mexico City © Amnesty International; Amnesty International Netherlands show their solidarity with the people of Kenya in Amsterdam © Amnesty International; Amnesty International Burkina Faso members and participants call on the Kenyan government to protect people from politically motivated and ethnic violence © Amnesty International; Amnesty International members gather outside the Kenyan Embassy in London, UK © Amnesty International]


Support networks improve for survivors of domestic violence in Belarus


Women victims of domestic violence in Belarus have better access to support thanks to an initiative kicked off by Amnesty International.

In 2006, Amnesty International hosted a two-day conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on violence against women, bringing together women’s NGOs from Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine. The conference provided the impetus for a successful series of nation-wide training seminars run by a Belarusian women’s organization the following year. Supported by Amnesty International Switzerland, the organization worked closely with a Polish domestic violence expert whom they met at the 2006 conference. The seminars focused on training specialists to work with survivors of domestic violence and on running telephone hotlines. “Since our project,” said a representative of the organization, “there are now seven more hotlines running throughout the country.” The organization is looking for further funding so it can continue this work.

As part of Amnesty International’s push to combat violence against women in the region, it also called on members to send chocolate to women’s NGOs in Belarus. The idea was to create an international chocolate chain of solidarity, which would circumvent the obstructive legislation which impedes collaboration between foreign and Belarusian NGOs, effectively blocking sources of funding. Women’s NGOs were subsequently inundated with “sweet hellos”. The chocolate and messages of support were then forwarded to women and children who had been directly affected by violence in the family.

Names of individuals and certain organizations have been intentionally omitted. Also see the Wire March 2007.

Take action! Keep sending messages of support – including chocolate – and show your solidarity with women’s NGOs in Belarus. Send your messages c/o The Belarus Team, Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, London, WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom.


[Photo caption: A training seminar in Belarus on the prevention of domestic violence. Police attendance was encouraged at all sessions. © Private]


UN Committee criticizes USA on race issues


The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has criticized the USA’s record on a range of economic, social, political and civil rights. When dealing with its concerns about racism in the criminal justice system, it noted disparities in the imposition of life imprisonment without parole for children, a particular use of this punishment which the Committee urged the USA to abolish. It also called on the USA to take all necessary measures, including a moratorium on executions, to “ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias”.

The Committee disagreed with the USA’s position that the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination does not apply to the treatment of foreign detainees held as “enemy combatants”. It called for such detainees to be guaranteed their rights under international law, including judicial review of the lawfulness and conditions of detention and the right to remedy for human rights violations.

Amnesty International had provided a written briefing to the Committee USA: Amnesty International’s briefing to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (AMR 51/178/2007).


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