USA: Still failing human rights in the name of global

Report
January 20, 2010

USA: Still failing human rights in the name of global

On the other hand, as noted below, while the Obama administration has spoken of its commitment to international human rights and to meeting its treaty obligations, it has repeated its predecessor’s failure to recognize that international human rights law, such as the ICCPR, applies in this context (and was also developed with an awareness of the long history of these types of threats).16Indeed, in litigation relating to Guantánamo, Bagram, the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, and on remedy for former detainees, the Obama administration has all too often taken essentially the same position as its predecessor, leaving human rights principles disregarded.17

 

Even where international humanitarian law does apply (in situations of armed conflict as recognized by international law), it does not displace international human rights law.Rather, the two bodies of law complement each other. In a resolution adopted as long ago as 1970, the UN General Assembly affirmed the “basic principle” that “fundamental human rights, as accepted in international law and laid down in international instruments, continue to apply fully in situations of armed conflict”. The International Court of Justice has stated that the protection of the ICCPR and other human rights conventions “does not cease in times of armed conflict, except through the effect of provisions for derogation”. The USA has made no such derogation under article 4 of the ICCPR.18

 

In a key national security speech eight months ago, President Obama emphasised his view that “we are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates”. Under this global war theory, he pointed to the possibility that the USA would develop an indefinite detention regime for those detainees who “cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States”. “If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war”, the President said, “we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight”. The administration would work with Congress to develop “an appropriate legal regime”. There was no mention of human rights in his speech.19