Thanks to a once-obscure law passed in 1789, foreign victims of foreign human rights abusers can use U.S. courts to sue their abusers. But the Supreme Court may soon ban such suits. That would be a shame, since they offer victims some measure of solace and give substance to underenforced human rights laws. The law should be upheld, and other countries should follow the U.S. lead.
Augusto Pinochet, head of the military junta that led Chile in the 1970s and 1980s, died on Sunday. Pinochet set an international legal precedent when he was arrested in Britain for crimes against humanity committed in Chile.
The State Department official in charge of addressing human rights issues, Assistant Secretary Barry Lowenkron, tells cfr.org a number of states fear the proposed UN Human Rights Council, which will seek to enforce international human rights law. As the council debate continues, Washington has also issued its annual report on human rights performance, drawing charges from a number of states of U.S. hypocrisy.
Approximately 775 detainees have been held in Guantánamo since January 2002. As of late November 2006, some 345 had been released or transferred to around 26 different countries. The vast majority were never charged and are now at liberty. Some have been detained again. Others have faced harassment by the authorities. Amnesty International campaigned on behalf of some of the men who have been released from Guantánamo; in this report the organization highlights details of some of these cases.
In this summary of concerns Amnesty International argues that the operation of the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay symbolizes the US’s wider disregard of international law in its "war on terror". Amnesty argues that it is only the visible tip of the iceberg of indefinite and secret detentions, renditions and resort to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and says that secrecy surrounding detentions is dangerous for the prisoner, distressing for relatives, and detrimental to the rule of law.
Amnesty International’s summary of concerns that detainees at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have suffered ill-treatment amounting to torture under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Amnesty alleges that many of those held at Guantánamo have been ill-treated, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere prior to their transfer to Guantánamo, or during their transfer, or as part of the interrogation process at the base, or as a result of the isolating, indefinite and punitive nature of detention in Guantánamo.
In this report Amnesty International says that thousands of women have been raped in Sudan and Chad since the armed conflict began in Darfur in 2003. There have certainly been thousands. The names of 250 women who had been raped, and harrowing information about their cases, were recorded by Amnesty International on a 10-day visit to just three refugee camps in Chad in 2004. Recent months have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of rapes as Darfur has been plunged into new fighting. In just one camp in Darfur, Kalma camp, the International Rescue Committee reported that rapes of women rose from under four to 200 a month during five weeks in July and August 2006. Overall, despite the presence of an African Union peacekeeping force (African Union Mission in Sudan, AMIS) and international awareness of what is happening in Darfur, in 2006 rapes and other violence against women and girls have increased, not diminished.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.