Posts Tagged ‘crimes’

Pakistani blasphemy laws and minorities

November 6, 2014

Nasir Khan, November 6, 2014


This unthinkable and horrifying news of the breaking of the legs of  a working-class Christian couple and burning them alive by a large mob of Muslims in Pakistan shows the utmost inhuman acts in the name of religion in general and blasphemy laws of Pakistan in particular. (For details, see:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-147-2014) It is also important to see that this was an extreme example of that social and moral degradation that prevails in Pakistan. The morbid disregard shown by some extremist or even some ordinary Muslims for crimes against the members of any religious minority, such as Christians, Ahmadis or Hindus, etc. is not frowned upon by many Muslims but is rather viewed as an act of devotion to God and the Prophet. Such is the lower depth of depravity that prevails in Pakistan and very many indoctrinated ignorant  people  rejoice over such acts of  unspeakable savagery in that  country.

But there is little ground to criticise only the ‘uneducated’ or ‘brainwashed’ people; many ‘educated’ people including many lawyers also support such blasphemy laws. For instance, in 2011 Mr Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab province, a secular leader and opponent of the unjust blasphemy laws, was killed by his own bodyguard because he had spoken against the ill-treatment of Christians and advocated the repeal of the blasphemy laws. It may come as a somewhat surprise to many people in the world that many people in Pakistan had zealously demonstrated in favour of the murderer and among such demonstrators were the Pakistani lawyers who wanted to stand by the murderer and protect the blasphemy laws!

Pakistani rulers and legislators imposed the blasphemy laws in a country where Muslim populace was religious but never morbidly extremist or intolerant of other faiths or viewpoints. However, the introduction of the blasphemy laws changed things drastically. They strengthened further the hands of the rightist and obscurantist forces in the land. Such laws could easily be used and exploited in matters that had nothing to do with religion as such. For instance, they provided a pretext, a cover-up to those who to settle their private conflicts or disputes could readily accuse their opponent of having said anything derogatory about matters covered by the blasphemy laws. Thus any Christian or the follower of any other minority faith can be falsely accused by anyone; it has been happening regularly. Once charged, their fate was sealed. There was little any such accused people could do to prove their innocence because the charge of blasphemy had already tilted the balance of justice against them. To the outside world such things may seem too primitive and stupid for a country in these times. But that’s how the things are in Pakistan. And the injustices ordinary innocent people suffer especially the religious minorities are getting worse in Pakistan.

What can the international community do to stop this savagery in Pakistan? Let me leave this question for consideration to other writers and activists also. In this context, I appeal to all human human rights organisations, individuals who defend human rights and political activists for their help and solidarity for a common struggle against the most frightening crimes committed in Pakistan against the ordinary people belonging to various religious minorities. As long as the present blasphemy laws are on the statute book such brutal crimes as we saw in the case of the inhuman murder of this Christian couple will not stop. The minorities of Pakistan are extremely vulnerable and they need our help and protection. There are many things that need to be done; to demand the repeal of the blasphemy laws in one of them because these laws are a flagrant violation of human rights and a sickening misuse of Islam, a great and noble religion of compassion and toleration. This matter should also be brought before the organs of the United Nations. All civilised people around the world have a moral responsibility to raise their voice against the violations of basic human rights under the blasphemy laws and the victimisation of religious minorities in Pakistan.

(The server to Humanrights.Asia for the link seems out of order now. But the tragic news can be read on this link: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33445)

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Gates Invokes New Authority to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos

November 14, 2009

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report, November 14, 2009

photo
Blood on the floor and walls of a cell at Abu Ghraib. Defense Secretary Robert Gates invoked his new authority to block images like these from being released under the Freedom of Information Act. (Photo: Wikicommons)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has blocked the release of photographs depicting US soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, using authority just granted to him by Congress to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to keep the images under wraps on national security grounds.

In a brief filed with the US Supreme Court late Friday, Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said Gates “personally exercised his certification authority” on Friday to withhold the photos and “determined that public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States.”

Continues >>

Settler Colonialism: Return to the Middle Ages

November 2, 2009

By Bouthaina Shaaban, Counterpunch, Nov 2, 2009

When you read a news story saying that “the United Nations called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and put an end to the policy of forced evictions in East Jerusalem, warning that there are 60,000 Palestinians threatened of becoming homeless,”  you cannot but wonder about the role of the international organization today and about the goal for which it was created on the eve of the victory of the forces of freedom against Nazism and Fascism and whether it is the same organization authorized by history and the world’s peoples to guarantee the right to ‘self determination’?  Is it the same organization charged with “putting an end to colonialism”?  Is it the same organization which believes in the right of all peoples to freedom without discrimination in terms of race or religion?  If it is the same organization, why does it allow Palestinian civilians suffer from the brutality of armed settlers?

Continues >>

 

Seven Former CIA Directors Want To Bury The Truth

September 24, 2009

By Melvin A. Goodman
The Public Record, Sep 23, 2009

CIA

Last week, seven former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency, who made their own contributions to the CIA’s low esteem over the past 35 years, asked President Barack Obama to make sure there is no criminal investigation of the crimes associated with the Agency’s detentions and interrogations policies over the past eight years.

Their letter to the president is particularly self-serving for three of the directors (Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, and George Tenet), who would presumably be the subject of any investigation, and simply self-aggrandizing for the others (John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster, and James Schlesinger), whose stewardship of the CIA since the early 1970s has contributed to the Agency’s loss of influence and credibility.

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Why Not Crippling Sanctions for Israel and the US?

September 1, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House, Aug 31, 2009

In  Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Continues >>

Pakistan police book former President Musharraf: officials

August 12, 2009

By Agence France-Presse

Raw Story, August 11, 2009

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Tuesday registered a criminal case against Pervez Musharraf, a precursor to potentially putting the ex-president on trial over his 2007 detention of judges as he attempted to cling to power.

Musharraf  imposed a state of emergency and sacked about 60 judges on November 3, 2007 when the supreme court appeared poised to declare him ineligible to contest a presidential election while in military uniform.

On a plea filed by lawyer Mohammad Aslam Ghuman, Islamabad district and sessions judge Mohammad Akmal directed police to register a case against Musharraf, who is currently in Europe.

Continued >>

Leading Rights Groups Call On Obama To Release Prisoner Abuse Photos

June 1, 2009

ACLU Calls On Court To Adhere To Mandate Requiring Release Of Abuse Photos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU, June 1, 2009

NEW YORK – Several of the nation’s leading human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to release photos depicting the abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel overseas.

The letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and dozens of other groups, calls on the president to reconsider his decision to block the release of the photos. It states, “The hallmark of an open society is that we do not conceal information that reflects poorly on us – we expose it to the light of day, so that wrongdoers can be held accountable and future abuses prevented.”

“The disclosure of these photographs serves as a further reminder that abuse of prisoners in U.S.-administered detention centers was systemic,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “Some of the abuse occurred because senior civilian and military officials created a culture of impunity in which abuse was tolerated, and some of the abuse was expressly authorized. It’s imperative that senior officials who condoned or authorized abuse now be held accountable for their actions.”

Also today, the ACLU asked a federal appeals court to uphold its earlier ruling that the government must release the photos. On May 28, the government filed a motion asking the court to recall its mandate ordering their release, and today the ACLU filed its opposition to that motion.

“The public has an undeniable right to see these photos. As disturbing as they may be, it is critical that the American people know the full truth about the abuse that occurred in their name. The government’s decision to suppress the photos is fundamentally inconsistent with President Obama’s own promise of transparency and accountability,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “The government has failed to show any good cause for the court to recall its mandate that the photos be released, and we are confident the court will uphold its original order.”

In September 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the government to turn over the photos in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The Obama administration originally indicated that it would not appeal that decision and would release the photos, but abruptly reversed its commitment to do so shortly before the agreed-upon deadline.

In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

More information about the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit, including today’s filing, is online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

The full text of the letter to President Obama is below and available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/39709res20090601.html

Continued >>

Torture and the American Conscience

May 29, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts | Counterpunch, May 28, 2009

Torture is a violation of US and international law. Yet, president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, on the basis of legally incompetent memos prepared by Justice Department officials, gave the OK to interrogators to violate US and international law.

The new Obama administration shows no inclination to uphold the rule of law by prosecuting those who abused their offices and broke the law.

Cheney claims, absurdly, that torture was necessary in order to save American cities from nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Many Americans have bought the argument that torture is morally justified in order to make terrorists reveal where ticking nuclear bombs are before they explode.

However, there were no hidden ticking nuclear bombs. Hypothetical scenarios were used to justify torture for other purposes.

We now know that the reason the Bush regime tortured its captives was to coerce false testimony that linked Iraq and Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda and September 11. Without this “evidence,” the US invasion of Iraq remains a war crime under the Nuremberg standard.

Torture, then, was a second Bush regime crime used to produce an alibi for the illegal and unprovoked US invasion of Iraq.

U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R,Tx) understands the danger to Americans of permitting government to violate the law. In “Torturing the Rule of Law”, he said that the US government’s use of torture to produce excuses for illegal actions is the most radicalizing force at work today. “The fact that our government engages in evil behavior under the auspices of the American people is what poses the greatest threat to the American people, and it must not be allowed to stand.”

One might think that the American public’s toleration of torture reflects the breakdown of the country’s Christian faith. Alas, a recent poll released by the Pew Forum reveals that most white Christian evangelicals and white Catholics condone torture. In contrast, only a minority of those who seldom or never attend church services condone torture.

It is a known fact that torture produces unreliable information. The only purpose of torture is to produce false confessions. The fact that a majority of American Christians condone torture enabled the Bush regime’s efforts to legalize torture.

George Hunsinger, professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, has stepped into the Christian void with a powerful book, Torture is a Moral Issue. A collection of essays by thoughtful and moral people, including an American admiral and general, the book demonstrates the danger of torture to the human soul, to civil liberty, and to the morale and safety of soldiers.

Condoning torture, Hunsinger writes, “marks a milestone in the disintegration of American democracy.” In his contribution, Hunsinger destroys the constructed hypothetical scenarios used to create a moral case for torture. He points out that no such real world cases ever exist. Once torture is normalized, it is used despite the absence of the hypothetical scenario.

Hunsinger notes that “evidence” obtained by torture can have catastrophic consequences. In making the case against Iraq at the UN, former Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the countries of the world that his evidence rested on “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Today Powell and his chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, are ashamed that the “evidence” for Powell’s UN speech
turned out to be nothing but the coerced false confession of Al-Libi, who was relentlessly tortured in Egypt in order to produce a justification for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

Some Americans, unable to face the criminality and inhumanity of their own government, maintain that the government hasn’t tortured anyone, because water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” are not torture. This is really grasping at straws. As Ron Paul points out, according to US precedent alone, water boarding has been considered to be torture since 1945, when the United States hanged Japanese military officers for water boarding captured Americans.

If the Obama regime does not hold the Bush regime accountable for violating US and international law, then the Obama regime is complicit in the Bush regime’s crimes. If the American people permit Obama to look the other way in order “to move on,” the American people are also complicit in the crimes.

Hunsinger, Paul and others are trying to save our souls, our humanity, our civil liberty and the rule of law. Obama can say that he forbids torture, but if those responsible are not held accountable, he has no way of enforcing his order. As perpetrators are discharged from the military and re-enter society, some will find employment as police officers and prison officials and guards, and the practice will spread. The dark side will take over America.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

Obama attacked from all sides over CIA memos

April 18, 2009

Former Bush aides condemn release of sensitive documents / Human rights groups criticise immunity given to interrogators

By David Usborne in New York | The Independent, UK, Apr 18, 2009

Mr Obama said no one who had used discredited techniques would be prosecuted

REUTERS

Mr Obama said no one who had used discredited techniques would be prosecuted

The White House was engulfed by a maelstrom of anger yesterday after its decision to release memos from the Bush era providing legal cover for “enhanced” interrogation techniques in secret CIA prisons. At the same time, it made promises to protect those who implemented them from prosecution.

The act of releasing the memos with almost no blacking out of sensitive sections was attacked by two senior former Bush aides. Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey, who served respectively as CIA director and US attorney general, said their publication “was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy”.

Perhaps more controversial was the decision to couple their publication with assurances from Barack Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, that no one who carried out interrogations using the now disavowed techniques, including forcing detainees to stand naked for hours and slamming them against walls, would face prosecution.

Some deemed the decision as fitting a pattern that Mr Obama has set, which involves honouring his campaign promises – in this case to lift the veil of secrecy on the way the “War on Terror” was waged by his predecessor – while rarely going as far as some of his supporters wanted or expected.

If Mr Obama had hoped to draw a line under the shame of how the CIA treated terror suspects at secret overseas prisons, he has failed. Even if he and Mr Holder can guarantee immunity for CIA interrogators, an inquiry is still likely to be opened by members of Congress. Nor is it clear they could be protected from prosecution under international laws.

Among those expressing their dismay at the legal immunity was a former Guantanamo detainee now living in Egypt. “All of us in Guantanamo never had hope or faith in the American government,” said Jomaa al-Dosari, a Saudi released last year. “We only ask God for our rights, and to demand justice for the wrongs we experience in this life.”

Human rights groups also deplored giving immunity to those who practised interrogation, which critics say amounted to illegal torture. “The release of CIA memos on interrogation methods by the US Department of Justice appears to have offered a get-out-of-jail-free card to people involved in torture,” Amnesty International said.

“It is one of the deepest disappointments of this administration that it appears unwilling to uphold the law where crimes have been committed by former officials,” said the Washington-based Centre for Constitutional Rights. The Centre argued that it was not just the interrogators who should face scrutiny, but those directing them.

“Whether or not CIA operatives who conducted water boarding are guaranteed immunity, it is the high-level officials who conceived, justified and ordered the torture programme who bear the most responsibility for breaking domestic and international law, and it is they who must be prosecuted,” it said.

The memos, written by senior Justice Department experts in 2002 and 2005, were designed to give the CIA reassurance that the so-called “enhanced” techniques would pass legal muster.

The decision to release them did not come easily to Mr Obama, who waited weeks as debate raged both within the White House and between the various agencies involved. While the Justice Department broadly backed their publication, the CIA did not, for fear their contents would aid terror organisations.

All the information in the memos, set out by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, was categorised as top secret and should have remained so, argued Mr Mukasey and Mr Hayden in a joint article published in The Wall Street Journal.

Spain investigates what America should

April 7, 2009

By Marjorie Cohn | , April 6, 2009

A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.

If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad.

Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn’t take place on Spanish soil?

The answer is yes. It’s called “universal jurisdiction.” Universal jurisdiction is a well-established theory that countries, including the United States, have used for many years to investigate and prosecute foreign nationals for crimes that shock the conscience of the global community. It provides a critical legal tool to hold accountable those who commit crimes against the law of nations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Without universal jurisdiction, many of the most notorious criminals would go free. Countries that have used this as a basis to prosecute the most serious of crimes should be commended for their courage. They help to create a just world in which we all seek to live.

Israel used universal jurisdiction to prosecute, convict and execute Adolph Eichmann for his crimes during the Holocaust, even they had no direct relationship with Israel.

A federal court in Miami recently convicted Chuckie Taylor, son of the former Liberian president, of torture that occurred in Liberia. A U.S. court sentenced Taylor to 97 years in prison in January.

Universal jurisdiction complements, but doesn’t supersede, national prosecutions. So if the United States were investigating the Bush officials, other countries would refrain from doing so.

When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture, it promised to extradite or prosecute those who commit, or are complicit in, the commission of torture.

President Obama, when asked whether he favored criminal investigations of Bush officials, replied, “My view is also that nobody’s above the law and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen.”

“But,” he added, “generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backward.” Preoccupied with the economy and two wars, Obama reportedly wants to wait before considering prosecutions that would invariably anger the GOP.

Evidence that Bush officials set a policy that led to the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo continues to emerge.

According to ABC News, Gonzales met with other officials in the White House and authorized torture, including waterboarding.

The Office of Professional Responsibility, which reports to the U.S. attorney general, drafted a report that excoriates Yoo and Bybee for writing the infamous torture memos. Haynes, Addington and Feith participated in decisions that led to torture. The release of additional graphic torture memos by the U.S. Department of Justice is imminent.

It is the responsibility of the United States to investigate allegations of torture. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a USA Today/Gallup Poll favor investigations of the Bush team for torture and warrantless wiretapping. Nearly four in 10 support criminal investigations.

Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora told Congress, “There are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat – are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.” Providing impunity to those who ordered the torture will be the third recruiting tool.

If the United States refuses to investigate now, it will be more likely that some future administration will repeat this scenario. The use of torture should be purged from our system, much like we eradicated slavery.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd). Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com (The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer; she is not acting on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild or Thomas Jefferson School of Law)


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