Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Ritualised responses to ‘new’ terror threats post 9/11

By Rumyana Grozdanova, University of Liverpool

News flash: Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11

A hijacker points his pistol from the cockpit of TWA Flight 847 as an ABC news crew approaches the jet for an interview at Beirut International Airport on June 19, 1985. Image: Salon.com http://www.salon.com/2010/11/11/airport_security_5/

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but since the attacks of 11 September 2001 it has been characterised as an unprecedented transnational challenge requiring new laws and international collaboration to combat it. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolutions supporting expansive counter-terror measures, and within some regional organisations and states, the rush to support and implement these measures – all under the rubric of the right of states to individual and collective self-defence – now has the appearance of a well-rehearsed ritual in the aftermath of any particular act of terrorism.

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Creating Permanent Memories of Torture

Image from http://www.mhpbooks.com

Image from http://www.mhpbooks.com

By Cynthia Banham

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Since Christmas 2014, it’s been possible to buy a book version of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program on global book selling websites like Book Depository and Amazon.[1]

The book version of the “torture report,” as it’s commonly known, was published by independent New York publisher Melville House. According to media accounts, it took 72 hours and the services of a dozen employees and a team of volunteers to transform the torture report into a properly formatted manuscript ready to send to the printers for publication as a paperback and ebook. Before it was a book, the torture report was (and still is) available as a PDF document that can be freely downloaded from the Internet. Continue Reading →


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The Marwan Affair: ‘War on Terror’ Resurgent

Image: flickr/philstar.com

By Jayson S. Lamchek

Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU

Believed to be a top Jemaah Islamiyah leader and one of the United States’ most-wanted terrorists – with a $5 million bounty on his head, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir (alias ‘Marwan’), was reportedly killed recently in a sensational police operation in the Philippines. The ‘success’ of the attack came at a heavy cost: some sixty other people died as well, mostly policemen.  The police operation and its aftermath illustrate the limited impact that recent commitments to respect human rights while countering terrorism, and to address the root causes of terrorism, have had on actual counter-terrorism practices.

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The UK Detainee Inquiry: accountability promises unfulfilled

By Cynthia Banham

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Abuse of Prisoners at Abu Ghraib Image from the Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AbuGhraibAbuse-standing-on-box.jpg

Abuse of Prisoners at Abu Ghraib
Image from the Wikimedia Commons

Six days before the Christmas just gone, the British government unexpectedly released the public version of the report of the Detainee Inquiry into torture complicity by British officials after 11 September 2001. Established in 2010, the Detainee Inquiry was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron soon after taking office. It followed a series of damaging court cases brought by Britain’s detainees in the war on terror (citizens and residents) over their alleged torture, and the UK’s involvement.

The Report of the Detainee Inquiry raises many difficult questions for the government and its intelligence agencies, but makes no findings. Some of the questions concern official advice given to British intelligence agents who witnessed the torture of terrorist suspects to the effect that “there was no obligation to intervene”. Others relate to whether the UK became “inappropriately” involved in the US’s extraordinary rendition program. Continue Reading →


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Omar Khadr – the Child Soldier Turned Adult Prisoner: Abuse and Neglect by the US and Canada

By Veronica Fynn 

Omar Khadr, aged 14 Source: Wikimedia

Omar Khadr, aged 14
Source: Wikimedia

The Committee welcomes the recent return of Omar Kadr to the custody of the State party. However, the Committee is concerned that as a former child soldier, Omar Kadr has not been accorded the rights and appropriate treatment under the Convention. In particular, the Committee is concerned that he experienced grave violations of his human rights, which the Canadian Supreme Court recognized, including his maltreatment during his years of detention in Guantanamo, and that he has not been afforded appropriate redress and remedies for such violations. The Committee urges the State party to promptly provide a rehabilitation programme for Omar Kadr that is consistent with the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups and ensure that Omar Khadr is provided with an adequate remedy for the human rights violations that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled he experienced.

– Committee on the Rights of the Child[1]

Between 1983 and 2005, some 20,000 Nuer and Dinka boys – dubbed the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’[2] – aged between 7 and 17 years, were orphaned, displaced and forcibly conscripted due to the Sudanese Civil War. Emmanuel Jal,[3] now a famous musician, was recruited along with his father by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army at the age of seven, after his mother was killed by Government forces. Continue Reading →


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Counter-terrorism: After the 9/11 decade

By Cynthia Banham
Centre for International Governance and Justice

 

Regarding Rights is pleased to re-publish “Counter-terrorism: After the 9/11 decade”  by CIGJ PhD scholar Cynthia Banham, originally written for the Lowy Institute’s blog The Interpreter.

We thank the editors of The Interpreter for their permission to post Cynthia’s article here.

The Open Society Foundation’s recent report detailing the scale of the Bush Administration’s extraordinary rendition program and the extent of cooperation by 54 allies reveals yet again the excesses in the way liberal democracies responded to the al Qaeda terrorist threat in the decade after the 9/11 attacks.

Yet in many ways the actions of the governments that came after those of George W Bush, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown tell us more about the lengths to which modern liberal democracies will go in order to defend themselves against terrorist threats. These governments did not face imminent national security crises, yet their willingness to subvert the rule of law has been no less flagrant.

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Extraordinary Rendition and Human Rights: The Case of Khaled El-Masri

Mapping Extraordinary Rendition in Europe. Source: Council of Europe Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Mapping Extraordinary Rendition in Europe.
Source: Council of Europe Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

By Rumyana Grozdanova

Durham University Law School

In December 2012, Khaled El-Masri, a German national who was detained by Macedonian border security and then extraordinarily rendered by the CIA, finally received a measure of justice. In a case that has haunted many in the human rights community, Mr El-Masri was subjected to incommunicado detention, first at the hands of Macedonian authorities after being seized on 31 December 2003, and then by the CIA, who rendered him to the infamous “Salt Pit” secret prison in Kabul where he was detained without access to legal representation or diplomatic services and ill-treated for a further four months. Continue Reading →


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Zero Dark Thirty: Airbrushing Torture

By Cynthia Banham

Centre for International Governance and Justice

Regarding Rights is pleased to re-publishZero Dark Thirty: Airbrushing Torture” by CIGJ PhD scholar Cynthia Banham, originally written for the Lowy Institute’s blog The Interpreter. Zero Dark Thirty has generated considerable controversy for its portrayal of torture; readers may also be interested in this article from the New York Times, which locates the film within debates about whether Hollywood has an obligation of fidelity to ‘historical truth’.

We thank the editors of The Interpreter for their permission to post Cynthia’s article here. Continue Reading →