US stands out for violation of Human Rights - President Carter
(By: Lucien Rajakarunanayake)
If her loudly proclaimed concern about the violation
of human rights has anything genuine about it, Hillary Rodham Clinton,
the US Secretary of State must be trying hard to hide her face after
former US President and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter charged the Obama
administration of the widespread abuse of human rights.
In a clear condemnation of the policies of the US on
human rights after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, and the
acceleration of this trend by the Obama Administration, Jimmy Carter's
Op-Ed in the New York Times of June 25, 2012 stands out as the strongest
criticism of US policy on human rights and violation of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), by a former President of the USA and
a widely acknowledged champion of human rights.
Titled "The United States is abandoning its role as
the global champion of human right", The Carter Op-Ed opens by stating
that: "Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be
assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most
recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation's violation of human
rights has extended.
''This development began after the terrorist attacks
of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan
executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general
public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral
authority on these critical issues."
This is a hardly veiled attack on President Obama
himself and his close associates in the US administration on
defence, foreign policy and homeland security.
Recalling that the UDHR was adopted in 1948 with leadership of the US as
"the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world," which was a
bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to
oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people
to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and
freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile, President
Carter states that today, when the UDHA is invoked by human rights
activists and the international community to replace most of the world's
dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in
domestic and global affairs, he finds it "disturbing that, instead of
strengthening these principles, our government's counter-terrorism
policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration's 30
articles, including the prohibition against "cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment."
Global champion of human rights
The Carter critique of the Obama/Clinton policies that
are abandoning the US role as the global champion of human rights, shows
how it clearly violates every aspect of human rights violations it
accuses other countries of, especially in the fight against terrorism,
while itself carrying out the most gross violation of human rights in
its declared war on terror.
With Hillary Clinton being the most vocal and visible
US critic of other countries and governments on issues of human rights,
most of the charges made by the US through her are made to stand on
their head by Carter's condemnation of what is taking place within and
outside the US on matters involving human rights and the freedoms of
He shows how the US having got a seat in the UN Human
Rights Council, is manipulating the global issues of human rights
against other countries, while carrying out the most blatant violations
of the very rights is claims to uphold and accuses other of their
violations be it on war crimes or violation of humanitarian law.
He is well focused on how the Obama administration
targets people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens,
and its use of unmanned drone attacks that admittedly kills many
civilians while striking at those who the US readily lists as
Here are some relevant excerpts from President
Carter's Op-Ed. "Recent legislation has made legal the President's right
to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with
terrorist organizations or 'associated forces,' a broad, vague power
that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or
Congress (the law is currently being blocked by a federal judge). This
law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed
innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the
International human rights norms
In addition to American citizens' being targeted for
assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the
restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow
unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless
wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications.
Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their
appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.
Guantanamo Bay prison, Cuba. File photo
Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by
drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent
women and children is accepted as inevitable.
After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this
year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such
attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia
and Yemen that are not in any war zone.
We don't know how many hundreds of innocent civilians
have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest
authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous
These policies clearly affect American foreign policy.
Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in
targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has
turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused
civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to
cite such actions to justify their own despotic behaviour.
Meanwhile, the detention facility at Guant namo Bay,
Cuba, now houses 169 prisoners.
About half have been cleared for release, yet have
little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom. American authorities
have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few
being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by
waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic
weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers.
Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense
by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the
cover of 'national security.' Most of the other prisoners have no
prospect of ever being charged or tried either.
At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the
globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic
rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer,
America's violation of international human rights abets our enemies and
alienates our friends.
As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to
reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international
human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and
cherished throughout the years.
President Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton will
only have to look at themselves in the mirror to get a good image of
persons who are among the most ruthless violators of human rights in
their own country and abroad, while preaching to the world of the need
to protect these rights, threatening sanctions and other punishments on
leaders and nations it charges are violators of these rights and
Having read (as she must have) President Carter's
comments on the US attack on human rights, the UN Commissioner for Human
Rights Navanethan Pillay, will now have to look much harder in the
direction of Washington, before making threats and charges, and
repeating unverified allegations about violations of human rights by
other countries, that lack the economic and military strength of the
-The Ministry of Defence
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