First Published: 2010-06-04

 
Secret detention practiced in 66 countries
 

UN rights experts call for prosecutions against 'widespread and systematic' secret detentions.

 

Middle East Online

'International law clearly prohibits secret detention'

GENEVA - UN rights experts called Thursday for action and prosecutions to end the secret detention of terror suspects, in which it alleges 66 countries including the United States are involved.

The experts on torture, counter-terrorism and enforced disappearances said the 66 countries they had named in a January report must investigate the covert imprisonment of alleged terror suspects.

The report warned that the "widespread and systematic" secret detentions could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity against the countries concerned.

It listed 66 countries allegedly involved and called on governments to prosecute those who ordered such detentions.

"International law clearly prohibits secret detention, which violates a number of human rights and humanitarian law norms that may not be derogated under any circumstances," said the report.

"Resorting to secret detention effectively means taking (detainees) outside the legal framework and rendering the safeguards contained in international instruments, most importantly habeas corpus, meaningless," it added.

In a debate Thursday on the report, the experts urged the UN Human Rights Council to take action.

"We think this is enough evidence that the council should take action," said Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture.

A summary of the debate said "secret detention should be explicitly prohibited along with all other forms of unofficial detention."

"In almost no recent cases have there been any judicial investigations into allegations of secret detentions and practically no one has been brought to justice."

The UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism, Martin Scheinin, said it was clear from the debate that the issue had not been brushed away despite months of delay.

"I don't think the Human Rights Council can ignore the need for inquiries at domestic level, that will necessarily be part of the package," he told journalists.

The experts noted a shift in attitude in Europe and the US government of President Barack Obama, even though domestic political battles had held up progress since the announced closure of secret CIA prisons.

However there was little promise of action from the United States and other major Western powers as well as countries like Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Djibouti.

UN expert: CIA drones claim 'licence to kill' with impunity

A UN human rights expert on Wednesday urged the United States to sideline the CIA from targeted killings using drones, warning that the practice amounted to "a licence to kill without accountability".

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned that the "prolific" US use of targeted killings, mainly by unmanned aircraft, was setting a damaging example that other countries would follow.

"I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe," he told the 47-member council.

"But this strongly asserted but ill-defined licence to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions."

Alston's study on targeted killings sharply criticised the legal arguments invoked to justify them, their civilian toll and the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"Intelligence agencies, which by definition are determined to remain unaccountable except to their own paymasters, have no place in running programmes that kill people in other countries," Alston told the rights council.

Countries had to demonstrate that they were complying with rules limiting killings of targeted individuals to those directly involved in fighting, he underlined.

"The clearest challenge to this principle today comes from the programme operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency in which targeted killings are carried out from unmanned aerial vehicles or drones," Alston said.

He warned that hundreds of people had been killed including innocent civilians yet the CIA criteria for targeted killings remained shrouded in official secrecy.

"In a situation in which there is no disclosure of who has been killed, for what reason, and whether innocent civilians have died, the legal principle of international accountability is, by definition, comprehensively violated," he added.

 

Iraq troops prepare for final assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iran moderate conservative retains parliament speakership

Without clear roadmap, Libya unity government fails to bring change

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for Hajj impasse

In Iraq town, fans of Real Madrid gather in 'challenge to ISIS'

Bahrain court upholds life terms for five 'spies'

Investigators need 12 days to recover EgyptAir black boxes

Iraq Kurdish forces launch offensive east of Mosul

Shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim up to 700 lives in one week

ISIS offensive triggers mass displacement in northern Syria

Iran delegation leaves Saudi Arabia without Hajj deal

Hundreds of civilians flee Fallujah area in Iraq

Khamenei urges Iran lawmakers to resist Western 'schemes'

ISIS-rebel clashes grip northeast Syria town

New US law could sanction Hezbollah officials

Thousands of protesters gather in central Bagdad

99 lashes for partying Iranian students

100,000 Syrians trapped after shock IS advance in Aleppo

Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

Turkey party seeks constitutional change to boost president's powers

Turkey accuses US of 'hypocrisy' on Kurdish militia in Syria

Israel environment minister resigns from 'extremist government'

US-led coalition pounds IS near Raqa

Tunisia mulls allowing women to serve in army

US-backed fighters battle IS near Syria stronghold

Tunisia tourism sees 'slight recovery'

UN envoy calls for economic rescue plan for Yemen

Bahrain jails 19 for attacks on police

Up to 30 dead in shipwreck off Libya

UN says Syrians will 'starve' unless aid improves

Christian homes set ablaze in Egyptian village 'love story'

Kuwait's main opposition group ends polls boycott

Twin offensives on IS edge forward in Syria, Iraq

Private firms to help in hunt for Egyptair black boxes

New Israeli defence minister's tough talk to be put to the test

Syria most dangerous place for health workers

Concern for civilians trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

Brent rises past $50 a barrel

Iraq PM urges protesters to stay home

Juncker warns Ankara against migrant deal threats

Israeli air force carries out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza

Annual Jewish pilgrimage starts in Tunisia

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced

Egypt quashes prison sentences for 47 protesters

At least 5 drown off Libya coast