- November 6, 2010
- 4 minutes read
US Faces Accusations of Human Rights Abuses
In a unique and unprecedented confrontation the United States faced a barrage of condemnations and criticism from the United Nations Human rights Council over Guantanamo and torture allegations.
Council members in Geneva, Switzerland, levelled a barrage of criticisms at the Obama US administration of what they described as human rights violations. The council questioned Obama’s backtracking of his self-imposed deadline to close Guantanamo within a year of his taking office.
The council had initiated a programme where the US human rights would examine the performance of all 192 UN members over a four-year period. The council heard testimonies and demands from countries facing abuses. The US was accused by Iran's delegation of violating human rights through covert CIA operations where they stressed were carried out on pretext of combating terrorism.
Washington was called on to ban the death penalty by Europe; and Mexico urged the ending of the use of lethal force in controlling illegal migration over its border. While Indonesia the home of the largest number of Muslims called on Washington to better promote religious tolerance.
Antonio Ginatta of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch claimed that the US officials were obliged to reiterate current practices that grossly violate human rights, such as the death penalty, poor prison conditions and sentencing youth offenders to life without parole.
Amnesty International in turn called on the US to hold accountable those responsible for torture. In its statement it stressed that the recommendations heard must be at the heart of rebuilding the United States' human rights record.
The US however defended its human rights record, denying that it was involved in any torture crime. According to Harold Koh, a US state department legal adviser investigations have been carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo and hundreds of investigations were in fact carried out regarding detainee abuse allegations and those have led to hundreds of disciplinary actions.
The Guantanamo Bay prison, maintained by the US in Cuba and which currently holds 174 detainees, has been highly controversial. Koh defended Obama’s administration regarding the Guantanamo Prison emphasizing that the president cannot close Guantanamo alone. He highlighted that the move would require help from Congress, the US courts and foreign allies willing to take in released inmates.
Sources reported that during the hearing an attempt was made to distance the Obama administration from practices used under Bush.
Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, however believed that that the US got "a fair hearing".