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UN Human Rights Committee Denounces US Human Rights Record

by Stephen Lendman Saturday, Mar. 29, 2014 at 6:33 PM

police state

UN Report Denounces US Human Rights Record

by Stephen Lendman

It's deplorable. It's longstanding. It's by far the world's worst. It's a pariah state for good reason. Claims otherwise ring hollow.

Ongoing genocidal crimes of war and against humanity continue. Homeland victims are targeted. So is humanity globally.

America is guilty of every imaginable crime and then some. Torture is sanctioned. Peace and stability are verboten. Permanent war is official policy. So is global state terror.

America operates the world's largest gulag. Thousands of political prisoners fill it. Global torture prisons supplement it.

Crime bosses make policy. Monied interests control them. New World Order ruthlessness is official policy. Rule of law principles don't matter. Washington rules apply.

UK Law Professor Nigel Rodley chairs the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). It's separate from the UN Human Rights Council. It includes 18 experts from various countries.

It's one of nine UN human rights bodies. Each is responsible for overseeing a particular treaty's implementation. UNHCR documented US human rights abuses.

It assessed its noncompliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It's a fundament UN human and civil rights treaty.

Signatories are required to respect freedom of speech, assembly and religion, electoral rights, due process and judicial fairness, sovereign self-determination, and other universally accepted rule of law principles.

UNHCR members monitor compliance. Signatories are required to submit regular reports.

Initially after agreeing to treaty provisions. Thereafter every four years or whenever Committee members request. They meet in Geneva. Usually three times annually.

UNHRC's report raised grave concerns about US human rights abuses. It cited institutionalized torture, drone killings, failure to close Guantanamo, mandatory immigrant detentions and mass deportations, as well as lawless NSA spying, among other issues.

It criticized Washington's failure to impose "human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad."

It noted the "limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the US government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in US custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' program."

It expressed concern about whitewashed CIA renditions, forced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It raised issues of excessive secrecy.

It said torture victims are denied compensation "due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity."

Bush administration officials made torture official US policy. On September 17, 2001, George Bush signed a secret finding.

It empowered CIA operative to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders."

It authorized establishing secret global facilities to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment.  

A "high-value target list" was approved. It included about two dozen individuals.

CIA operatives got free reign to capture, kill and interrogate anyone designated terrorists (real or otherwise) not on the list.

On November 13, 2001, the White House issued Military Order Number 1. It authorized the "Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism."

It lied claiming "an extraordinary emergency exists for national defense purposes, that this emergency constitutes an urgent and compelling government interest and that issuance of this order is necessary to meet the emergency."

It targeted individuals designated Al Qaeda. It targeted others for allegedly aiding or abetting acts of international terrorism or harboring them.

It denied them access to civil courts. It established extrajudicial military commissions. It empowered them to convict by "concurrence of two-thirds of the members."

It prohibited habeas and other international law protections. It rendered them null and void. It denied appeal rights. It legitimized torture.

It accepted torture-coerced confessions as evidence. It permitted hearsay. It pronounced guilt by accusation.

It substituted kangaroo court justice for the real thing. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

The infamous March 14, 2003 "Torture Memo" abolished all legal restraints. It authorized no-holds-barred procedures.

It gave presidents as Commander-in-Chief "the fullest range of protect the nation."

It said he "enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."

At the time, military law expert Eugene Fidell called it "a monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency."

It's "a road map for the Pentagon (to avoid) any prosecutions," he added. It legitimized "cruel and unusual treatment." It denied fundamental rule of law protections.

It authorized what followed. Torture continues unabated under Obama.

Techniques include sleep deprivation, waterboarding (aka simulated drowning), prolonged shackling to the ceiling, painful stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation and/or overload, severe beatings, electric shocks, induced hypothermia, and other measures able to cause irreversible physical and/or psychological harm.

UNHCR members denounced "targeted killings (in) extraterritorial counterterrorism operations by drones" and other means.

It criticized the "lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes." It questioned Washington's "very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an 'imminent threat' and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities."

It raised concern about failing to close Guantanamo. It cited no administration timeline to do so.

It denounced lawless NSA spying. It said targeted individuals have "limited protection against excessive surveillance."

It acknowledged the "practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by federal and NYPD operatives in the absence of any suspicion of any wrongdoing."

It's common practice throughout America. People of color and south-of-the-border immigrants are prime targets. So are Muslims for praying to the wrong God.

UNHRC members raised concern about "insufficient measures" in place to protect indigenous Americans.

Little is done to safeguard sacred areas from "desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination."

Disturbing death penalty imposition disparities adversely affect African-Americans and other people of color, they said.

Excessive force is used with impunity. Beatings, "gun-related deaths and injuries" disproportionately affect "minorities, women and children."

Homelessness is "criminaliz(ed.)" School children are treated the same way to enforce discipline.

Juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole for homicide based on flimsy evidence or none at all.

Adults can face life imprisonment for alleged "non-homicide related" crimes. Abusive prolonged solitary confinement persists. Doing so constitutes torture.

Mandatory immigration detentions are reprehensible. Mass deportations are troubling. Obama disgracefully expelled more immigrants and others than all his predecessors combined.

Excluding undocumented immigrants and non-citizen family members from healthcare law protections is troubling.

Committee members criticized Washington's failure to "disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification, and the circumstances in which drones are used."

Obama categorically refuses to reveal what's demanded. Murder by diktat continues.

Guantanamo and other torture prison detainees held uncharged or "designated for transfer" to other countries continue to be held lawlessly.

UNHRC's concluding observations called on Washington to implement the following recommendations:

• Take all necessary measures to ensure that surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to the obligations under the ICCPR, including Article 17.  

Any interference with the right to privacy must comply with the principles of legality, proportionality, and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;

• Ensure that any interference with the right to privacy be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to, and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise, specifying, in detail, the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted, the procedures for authorizing such surveillance, the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance, the limits on the duration of surveillance, and the procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;

• Reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness by providing, for example, judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and  establishing strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;

• Refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;

• Ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.

It bears repeating. Constitutional, US statute and international laws don't matter.

Washington rules alone apply. Lawless US practices continue. Expect no change in longstanding policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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