Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Gitmo Treatment

By now, you're probably familiar with the horrific treatment of prisoners in the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prison, at the hands of American GIs, American "contractors" (mercenaries) and Iraqi personnel. The United States also currently detains hundreds of prisoners at the military base at Guantanamo Bay. The treatment of the prisoners is somewhat at variance with United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory:

Article 1

For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

When will this shameful chapter in American history be closed? Every day prisoners are subjected to such treatment further erodes the standing of America in the world, which has never before depended on her might for respect, but always on her adherence to the highest standard of conduct and her willingness to defend the rights of the downtrodden.

Every moment these criminal detentions continue soils the shining ideals on which this country is founded.

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