lundi 23 février 2009

Former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed returns to UK

[JURIST] Released Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Binyam Mohamed [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] was returned to the UK on Monday after being held for nearly seven years. Mohamed had immigrated from Ethiopia to the UK prior to his arrest, and it is not yet known whether he will be permitted to remain [BBC report] in the country, whose government he has repeatedly accused [Guardian report] of being involved in his alleged torture. Mohamed recently ended a hunger strike, and British authorities declared him healthy enough to travel [JURIST report] last week.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] said that his return comes in response to a longstanding request for the return of UK residents held at Guantanamo.Mohamed was arrested and sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004 on suspicion of war crimes in connection with his alleged involvement with al Qaeda attacks on the US. The charges against him were dismissed [JURIST report] last October. Mohamed asserts that after he was arrested in Pakistan and turned over to US officials, he was then transferred to Moroccan agents who tortured him. In December, he asked the UK government [JURIST report] to ensure that photographic evidence of his alleged torture be preserved.

Source: Jurist - Legal news and Researches

vendredi 20 février 2009

La Finlande refuse d'extrader un génocidaire présumé vers le Rwanda

HELSINKI — Le ministère finlandais de la Justice a refusé vendredi d'extrader un Rwandais soupçonné d'avoir participé au génocide de 1994 dans son pays, au motif que cet homme risquerait de ne pas bénéficier d'un procès équitable.
Le gouvernement s'appuie sur un jugement du Tribunal pénal international qui a refusé de transmettre trois cas similaires à des tribunaux rwandais.
Le suspect âgé de 57 ans, dont l'identité n'a pas été dévoilée, est détenu par la police finlandaise depuis avril 2007. Il pourrait être jugé en Finlande si le procureur d'Etat décide de l'inculper dans les prochains mois.

Source : La Presse Canadienne

mercredi 18 février 2009

Canada: Harper Should Raise Khadr Case During Obama's Visit

(Toronto) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper should take advantage of US President Barack Obama's February 19 visit to Canada to push for repatriation or fair trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian national detained at Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights Watch said in a letter released today. Harper should also offer to resettle detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be returned home and who have been promised housing, job training, and other support by Canadian sponsors.

"For years, Canada sat on the sidelines as other western nations condemned the detentions in Guantanamo and took concrete steps to get their citizens home," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. "Now that President Obama has announced a plan to close Guantanamo, Canada should reverse course and help the US meet this goal."
Khadr, now 22, has been in US custody since he was 15. He is accused of killing a US sergeant during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, and was slated for trial before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay on January 26. However, on January 22, Obama issued an executive order requesting the suspension of all pending military commission cases. The order also called for the detention facility at Guantanamo to be closed by January 2010 and for the case of every detainee to be reviewed.

Among the issues in closing Guantanamo, Obama will need to find solutions for approximately 60 detainees - from countries such as Algeria, Uzbekistan, and Libya - who have reportedly expressed credible fears of torture or persecution if returned home. Canadian church groups and other organizations have offered to sponsor and provide financial support for at least four of these detainees.

"By agreeing to resettle some detainees who cannot be returned home, Canada would be helping the US overcome one of the most difficult obstacles to closing Guantanamo," Daskal said. "Such a step would be welcomed not just in Washington, but around the world."
Obama's visit to Canada will be his first foreign trip since becoming president.

© Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

samedi 14 février 2009

A Torture Report Could Spell Big Trouble For Bush Lawyers

An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department's ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos "was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys." According to two knowledgeable sources who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said. (Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

But then–Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy, Mark Filip, strongly objected to the draft, according to the sources. Filip wanted the report to include responses from all three principals, said one of the sources, a former top Bush administration lawyer. (Mukasey could not be reached; his former chief of staff did not respond to requests for comment. Filip also did not return a phone message.) OPR is now seeking to include the responses before a final version is presented to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. "The matter is under review," said Justice spokesman Matthew Miller.

If Holder accepts the OPR findings, the report could be forwarded to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action. But some former Bush officials are furious about the OPR's initial findings and question the premise of the probe. "OPR is not competent to judge [the opinions by Justice attorneys]. They're not constitutional scholars," said the former Bush lawyer. Mukasey, in speeches before he left, decried the second-guessing of Justice lawyers who, acting under "almost unimaginable pressure" after 9/11, offered "their best judgment of what the law required."

But the OPR probe began after Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who took over OLC in 2003, protested the legal arguments made in the memos. Goldsmith resigned the following year after withdrawing the memos, and later wrote that he was "astonished" by the "deeply flawed" and "sloppily reasoned" legal analysis in the memos by Yoo and Bybee, including their assertion (challenged by many scholars) that the president could unilaterally disregard a law passed by Congress banning torture.

OPR investigators focused on whether the memo's authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted, according to three former Bush lawyers who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing probe. One of the lawyers said he was stunned to discover how much material the investigators had gathered, including internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted. In a departure from the norm, Jarrett also told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee last year he would inform them of his findings and would "consider" releasing a public version. If he does, it could be the most revealing public glimpse yet at how some of the major decisions of Bush-era counterterrorism policy were made.

Source: Michael Isikoff, Newsweek

samedi 7 février 2009

La dernière procédure en cours à Guantanamo arrêtée

C'était le dernier procès en cours d'instruction à Guantanamo. La juge qui préside les tribunaux d'exception de Guantanamo a retiré, jeudi 5 février, les charges pesant sur le Saoudien Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, principal suspect de l'attentat du navire USS Cole, interrompant de fait la procédure judiciaire comme le demande Barack Obama, a indiqué le Pentagone. Cette décision désamorce le conflit entre l'armée et le président des Etats-Unis.Cette décision était très attendue après qu'un juge militaire de Guantanamo a refusé le 29 janvier de suspendre la procédure comme le demandait l'accusation, sur requête du président Barack Obama. Dix-sept marins américains ont été tués dans l'attentat contre l'USS Cole, qui s'est produit le 12 octobre 2000 au Yémen. Outre l'attentat contre l'USS Cole, qui a fait 17 morts, le suspect était poursuivi pour celui contre le Limburg, un superpétrolier français visé en 2002 dans le golfe d'Aden. La Maison Blanche a fait savoir qu'Obama recevrait vendredi des proches des victimes de l'USS Cole et des attentats du 11-Septembre pour évoquer l'avenir de Guantanamo.

Cette décision intervient alors que l'Association américaine de défense des libertés civiles (ACLU) accuse le secrétaire américain à la défense Robert Gates de ne pas soutenir le décret du président Barack Obama ordonnant la fermeture de Guantanamo et la suspension des procédures judiciaires. Une semaine après la signature du décret de fermeture de Guantanamo, un juge militaire a refusé d'accéder à la demande de l'accusation, répondant à l'ordre du président de suspendre pendant cent vingt jours la procédure dont il a la charge. Selon un porte-parole du Pentagone, Robert Gates n'a pas le pouvoir de renverser la décision d'un juge. Seule la présidente des tribunaux d'exception, la juge à la retraite Susan Crawford, nommée à ce poste par M. Bush, peut le faire.

Source : Le Monde

mardi 3 février 2009

Rights groups: China rights lawyer released

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Chinese human rights lawyer who disappeared for two weeks and was allegedly being held by security forces at an unknown location has returned home, an international rights group said Tuesday.

Gao Zhisheng, who has described being tortured in the past by Chinese security officials, is currently safe after Western diplomats pressed China on his case, according to Human Rights Watch.

The New-York based group did not give any other details and said it was not immediately clear when Gao was let go.

Gao, a bold critic of China's civil rights lapses, disappeared on Jan. 19 and was "subsequently detained by Chinese security forces," according to a joint letter issued earlier Tuesday by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China that expressed fears for his safety and called for his release.

The groups were "particularly concerned" about his disappearance because it appeared arbitrary and did not follow any apparent action on Gao's part, said Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. "It seemed to be an escalation in treatment by security forces," he said.

China has long been criticized for its violations of freedom of speech and religion and brutal repression of critics, and the U.N. Human Rights Council is set to review its rights record starting next week.

Gao, an attorney, has tackled cases involving property-rights violations, the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and religious persecution from 2002-2006.
He was arrested in August 2006, convicted at a one-day trial and placed under house arrest. He was accused of subversion on the basis of nine articles posted on foreign Web sites, state media reported at the time.

In September 2007, he was again detained for several weeks after sending an open letter to the U.S. Congress denouncing China's human rights situation and detailing his and his family's harsh treatment by security forces.

He graphically described torture sessions he allegedly endured that involved severe beatings, electric shock to his genitals, and cigarettes held to his eyes.

Last November, the U.N. Committee Against Torture issued a report on China saying that it remained "deeply concerned about the continued allegations, corroborated by numerous Chinese legal sources, of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody."

Source The Associated Press

Genève est prêt à accueillir un ex-détenu de Guantanamo

PRISON Seules conditions posées, l'ex-détenu devra être innocent et n'avoir aucun contact avec le terrorisme.

ATS 02.02.2009 15:26

Le Conseil d'Etat genevois a répondu favorablement à un appel de la Confédération, a indiqué lundi Laurent Moutinot, confirmant une information du quotidien «Le Matin».
Seules conditions posées par Genève, l'ex-détenu qu'il acceptera devra être innocent et n'avoir aucun contact avec le terrorisme. Peu importe en revanche son pays d'origine. Une telle position se justifie par le fait que Genève a une renommée de ville humanitaire.

Depuis que Micheline Calmy-Rey a laissé entendre que la Suisse pourrait accueillir jusqu'à trois ex-détenus de la prison américaine, plusieurs conseillers d'Etat de différents cantons se sont exprimés pour ou contre le principe, mais toujours à titre personnel. Genève semble être le premier canton à s'engager officiellement.

Le Conseil fédéral n'a toutefois pas encore décidé formellement d'accueillir des ex-détenus de Guantanamo. Il doit d'abord examiner les modalités, juridiques en particulier, d'une telle procédure d'asile.

Source : Tribune de Genève