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Amnesty Denounces US on OBL Raid, Drone Hits


May 30, 2012
The Nation (Pakistan) & Amnesty International

In a vindication of Pakistan's stand, Amnesty International has condemned the US for the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, and voiced concern over the drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. In its annual report released at the UN and several cities around the world, the human rights group said: "In the absence of further clarification from the US authorities, the killing of Osama bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful."

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/25-May-2012/amnesty-denounces-us-on-obl-raid-drone-hits

Amnesty Denounces US on OBL Raid, Drone Hits
Special Correspondent / The Nation (Pakistan)

UNITED NATIONS (May 25, 2012) -- In a vindication of Pakistan's stand, Amnesty International has condemned the United States on Wednesday for the ‘unlawful’ commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, and voiced concern over the drone attacks inside Pakistani territory.

The international human rights monitor said the cross-border raid violated international law. "The US administration made clear that the operation had been conducted under the US's theory of a global armed conflict between the US and Al-Qaeda in which the US does not recognise the applicability of international human rights law," the human rights group said in its annual report released at the UN and several cities around the world.

"In the absence of further clarification from the US authorities, the killing of Osama bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful," it said.

The report raised serious concerns regarding US drone strikes inside Pakistani territory, which killed several innocent civilians including some low rank militants.

Amnesty said a request for clarification over an apparent US drone strike in Yemen last September that killed US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, his Al-Qaeda co-conspirator Samir Khan and at least two others had also gone unanswered.

"These killings appeared to have amounted to extrajudicial executions," the group said.

Amnesty also hit out at human rights violations committed by former president George W Bush's administration and condemned the ‘impunity’ with which his officials operated.

The global rights monitor also criticised Canada for failing to arrest Bush when he visited in October, "despite clear evidence that he was responsible for crimes under international law, including torture."

"There was no accountability for human rights violations committed under the administration of president Bush as part of the CIA's program of secret detention and rendition," Amnesty said, referring to the transfer of individuals from one country to another without access to legal process.

Attorney General Eric Holder in June 2011 launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody but dropped probes into the vast majority of alleged interrogation abuses.

Amnesty regretted President Barack Obama's failure to shut down Guantanamo, noting that at the end of 2011, nearly two years after his self-imposed closure deadline, "171 men were still held at the base, including four who had been convicted by military commission."

The number of detainees at the US detention center in Cuba currently stands at 169.

The report lamented that five suspects accused of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks "had been held incommunicado for up to four years in secret US custody before being transferred to Guantanamo."

Amnesty also criticised conditions in American prisons, in particular the high number of hours some detainees were confined in isolated cells, and the execution of 43 men last year, all by lethal injection.

AFP adds: Amnesty regretted President Barack Obama's failure to shut down Guantanamo, noting that at the end of 2011, nearly two years after his self-imposed closure deadline, "171 men were still held at the base, including four who had been convicted by military commission."

The number of detainees at the US detention centre in Cuba currently stands at 169.

The report lamented that five suspects accused of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks "had been held incommunicado for up to four years in secret US custody before being transferred to Guantanamo."

Amnesty also criticised conditions in American prisons, in particular the high number of hours some detainees were confined in isolated cells, and the execution of 43 men last year, all by lethal injection.

"This brought to 1,277 the total number of executions carried out since the US Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 1976," the report said.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.



Amnesty International Urges US to
Clarify Basis for Lethal Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Human rights organization urges Attorney General Holder to provide facts, not rhetoric, in his anticipated speech justifying use of drones.

WASHINGTON, DC (January 31, 2012) -- The United States must disclose details of the legal and factual basis for the lethal use of drones in Pakistan, Amnesty International said today, after President Barack Obama confirmed that the CIA is using the unmanned aircraft to target suspected militants in the country's tribal areas.

President Obama made the rare public acknowledgment on Monday during an hour-long online video chat with users of the social network Google+. Amnesty International also called on the United States to monitor civilian casualties inflicted by drone attacks in Pakistan.

"President Obama’s confirmation of drone use in Pakistan opens the door for improved transparency and accountability in the US drone program: its scope, legal justification and provisions to safeguard civilians," said Tom Parker, Amnesty International USA’s policy director for (counter) terrorism and human rights.

The President said that the drone strikes were a "targeted focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists." He asserted that the strikes targeted "al-Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

US Attorney General Eric Holder will reportedly touch on the US Government’s legal arguments in support of such killings by drone attacks in a speech on national security in the coming weeks.

"The drone program has been conducted in secrecy for too long," said Parker. "Attorney General Holder needs to bring some clarity to this debate by answering questions on the legal theory underpinning these operations, how targets are chosen and who decides when to pull the trigger."

Past justifications offered by U.S. officials have invoked legal justifications based on a "global war" between the United States and al-Qaeda, a concept that is not recognized by international humanitarian or human rights law.

U.S. drone attacks have doubled overall in Pakistan during the Obama administration. Thousands of people have been killed by the strikes -- civilians as well as suspected militants. Because of the security situation and difficulty in accessing the terrain, it has been impossible for organizations like Amnesty International to verify the number of civilian casualties caused by drones.

In its June 2010 report, As If Hell Fell on Me: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan, Amnesty International said the use of drones to target insurgents in northwest Pakistan had generated considerable resentment inside the country. Available evidence shows that the number of strikes decreased during 2011.

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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