UN Rights Chief: Anti-Terror Measures Can Backfire.

GENEVA — United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay told governments on Monday that trying to fight terrorism by limiting personal freedoms and mistreating suspects could only worsen the problem.

She spoke as Britain and France were considering tightening anti-terror laws and surveillance after the killings of two soldiers in London and Paris, and as President Barack Obama renewed his efforts to close the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba.

Pillay, speaking at the opening of the spring session of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, said she had received allegations of “very grave violations of human rights that have taken place in the context of counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations.”

“Such practices are self-defeating. Measures that violate human rights do not uproot terrorism, they nurture it,” she said.

Pillay made no direct reference to the killing of an off-duty British soldier in London last Wednesday by two men saying they were acting in the name of Islam and the stabbing of a soldier in the French capital.

Many politicians in both countries have called for toughening of anti-terror measures in the wake of both incidents and media reports have suggested such moves, including some that could affect free speech, might be in the works.

Pillay also said the U.S. failure to close down the Guantanamo detention center was “an example of the struggle against terrorism failing to uphold human rights, among them the right to a fair trial.”

A total of 166 people from 23 countries, many held for more than a decade without charge, remain the prison set up after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

“The continuing detention of many of these individuals amounts to arbitrary detention, in breach of international law, and the injustice embodied in this detention center has become an ideal recruitment tool for terrorists,” Pillay said.

She noted Obama’s statement last Thursday outlining how he planned to close the center down, a move opposed by many in Congress, but said the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo must conform to international human rights law.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Egypt Alliance: Muslim Brotherhood Moves to Silence Rights Groups.

CAIRO — Egypt‘s main opposition bloc said on Saturday that a Muslim Brotherhood-backed bill to regulate human rights groups and other private organizations was an attempt to stifle their work.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), an alliance of liberal and leftist opposition parties, said the draft law submitted to the Shura Council, which for now has legislative powers, was more restrictive than laws under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

The NSF said in a statement that the bill “seeks to reproduce a police state by putting into law the role of security bodies in overseeing the work of civil society groups.”

Human rights groups have also criticized the law, which stipulates that non-governmental groups (NGOs) must be vetted by a committee partly drawn from the security services and must get official permission to receive funds from abroad.

“This can allow these entities to refuse funding for rights groups that monitor elections or work to fight torture . . . there is an insistent position by the ruling regime driven by lack of political will to take any reform initiative towards democracy and respect for human rights,” the NSF statement said.

Under Mubarak, NGOs ran into trouble over funding by Western countries and such constraints have continued after his fall.

Last year, when Egypt was still under interim army rule, an investigation into the work of international NGOs, including some U.S.-based groups, led to a crisis in ties with Washington.

Mokhtar al-Ashry, head of the legal committee of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters the bill would ensure freedom for NGOs and that the security apparatus would provide only one of nine members on the committee overseeing their activities and funding. Asked why any security official should play such a role, Ashry ended the conversation.

Earlier this month, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said the draft law risked betraying the ideals of Egypt’s 2011 revolution and said governments restricting civil society work “risk slipping quickly into authoritarianism”.

The NSF said it would back another bill drafted by a coalition of 50 civil society groups.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Closing Gitmo.

Image: UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Closing Gitmo

The U.N. human rights chief called on the United States on Friday to close down the Guantanamo prison camp, saying the indefinite imprisonment of many detainees without charge or trial violated international law.
Navi Pillay said the hunger strike being staged by some inmates at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in southeastern Cuba was a “desperate act” but “scarcely surprising”.

“We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged four years ago to close the controversial facility, opened by the Bush administration in January 2002 to hold men captured in counter-terrorism operations after the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on America.

Pillay voiced deep disappointment at the U.S. government’s failure to close Guantanamo despite its repeated commitments, but welcomed comments by a White House spokesman last week reiterating the intention to do so while citing congressional legislation as the prime obstacle.

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About half of the current 166 detainees have been cleared for transfer either to home countries or third countries for resettlement, Pillay said. “As a first step, those who have been cleared for release must be released,” she said.

“FESTERING FOR MORE THAN A DECADE”

“Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention centre for more than a decade,” she said.

Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes should be tried in civilian courts, especially as the military commissions “do not meet international fair trial standards” despite improvements since 2009, said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.

Of the 166 remaining detainees, only nine have been charged or convicted of crimes, according to military records. The 166 detainees are from 23 countries, the Red Cross says.

Forty inmates are currently staging a hunger strike to protest against their indefinite detention, according to a U.S. military spokesman at Guantanamo. Some have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed liquid nutrients through tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited Guantanamo regularly since it opened to check on conditions of detention and ensure humane treatment. It is currently carrying out its 93rd visit, expected to last another week.

The ICRC sent a doctor and another delegate to Guantanamo on March 25, a week earlier than planned because of concern about a growing hunger strike among detainees, the humanitarian agency said at the time.

An ICRC team of 13 now there are discussing issues including the hunger strike separately with authorities and in private interviews with inmates, ICRC spokesman Alexis Heeb said.

“Detainees can raise any problem they want to bring to our attention, this can be issues of detention, Koran issues, requests for medical attention,” Heeb told Reuters on Friday, referring to media reports about searches of Korans for contraband.

The ICRC has a clear position of being opposed to forced feeding or forced treatment and upholds the principle of leaving the right to detainees to choose his or her fate, he said.

ICRC President Peter Maurer is expected to raise concerns about Guantanamo in talks next week with senior U.S. officials during his three-day visit to Washington, Heeb said.

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“We continue to hold detainees under the internationally recognized Law of War and in keeping with the best of our core values, safeguarding and humanely treating all who are in our care and custody, there. Assertions that present some alternate narrative simply do not withstand intellectual rigour,” a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, told Reuters in response to Pillay’s statement.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

U.N. rights boss calls on China to address Tibetan protests.

GENEVA (Reuters) – The top U.N. human rights official urged China on Friday to address longstanding grievances that have led to an “alarming escalation” in desperate forms of protest by Tibetans, including some 60 self-immolations since March.

“Social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights,” Navi Pillay said in a rare statement critical of China.

The victims include seven Tibetans who set fire to themselves in the past two weeks in protest against what they claim is repressive Chinese rule in the Himalayan region.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

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