10/17/2006

USA: Military Commissions Act of 2006 - Turning bad policy into bad law - Amnesty International

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Military Commissions Act of 2006 – Turning bad policy into bad law

In recent days, human rights violations perpetrated by the USA throughout the "war on terror" have in effect been given the congressional stamp of approval. With the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 by the US House of Representatives on 27 September and the Senate on 28 September, Congress has turned bad executive policy into bad law. This document looks back on the evolution of the executive’s "war on terror" detention policies, in order to illustrate the sort of violations in which Congress, through inaction and now legislation, has become complicit. Amnesty International will continue to campaign for the USA’s "war on terror" detention policies and practices to be brought into full compliance with international law, and for repeal of any law that fails to meet this test.

On 21 September 2001, Amnesty International faxed a letter to President George W. Bush. The organization urged the President to put respect for human rights and the rule of law at the heart of his country’s response to the crime against humanity that was perpetrated on 11 September 2001. "In the wake of a crime of such magnitude", the letter said, "principled leadership becomes crucial… We urge you to lead your government to take every necessary human rights precaution in the pursuit of justice."

Amnesty International deeply regrets that its appeal fell on deaf ears. The past five years have seen the USA engage in systematic violations of international law, with a distressing impact on thousands of detainees and their families. Human rights violations have included:

o Secret detention
o Enforced disappearance
o Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
o Outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating treatment
o Denial and restriction of habeas corpus
o Indefinite detention without charge or trial
o Prolonged incommunicado detention
o Arbitrary detention
o Unfair trial procedures

Yet at the same time, US officials have continued to characterize the USA as a "nation of laws" and one that in the "war on terror" is committed to what it calls the "non-negotiable demands of human dignity", including the "rule of law".

USA: Military Commissions Act of 2006 - Turning bad policy into bad law - Amnesty International

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