Blog of Rights


We've Come So Far, But Have So Much Farther to Go

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 5:15pm

The U.S. is the world's leading incarcerator with over 2.3 million people – or 1 in 99 adults – in prisons and jails across the country. Our incarceration rate of 760 per 100,000 people is the highest in the world -- five to ten times…

World Day Against the Death Penalty

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 2:42pm

Tomorrow marks World Day Against the Death Penalty, and it is only fitting that a global call was issued to abolish the practice. We join the ambassadors of the European Union (EU) who gathered today to call on all nations to abolish the cruel practice.


Join us at “Human Rights and Detention”

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 7:22am

This week, on Thursday, October 8th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., human rights lawyers and advocates will gather to discuss the importance of a human rights framework to protect the rights of those deprived of their liberty.

This special…

Just the Beginning

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 5:12pm

President Obama spoke eloquently this morning, delivering a historic speech before the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, Obama outlined his administration's steps towards what he called a "new era of engagement," noting that…

State Department Has Two Months to Respond to Forced Disappearance and Torture Charges

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 4:50pm

Two months. That's how long the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has given to the U.S. government to respond to allegations of kidnapping and torture put forth in a petition the ACLU filed on behalf of an innocent victim of the CIA's…

U.N. Working Group Tells U.S. to Investigate Rendition Flights

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 5:52pm

Yesterday, the U.N. Working Group on the use of mercenaries issued a statement of its findings and recommendations following a two-week fact-finding visit to the U.S. at the invitation of the Obama administration. During their visit, the human…

The Enforced Disappearance of Mustafa Setmarian Nassar

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 5:58pm

In October 2005, Mustafa Setmarian Nassar, a Spanish citizen of Syrian origin and an influential Islamic theorist, was apprehended by agents of the Pakistani government and handed over to U.S. officials. Nassar'swife and family have not heard from…

Human Rights Body Criticizes U.S. Immigration Detention System

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 12:23pm

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), at the invitation of the Obama administration, recently completed a weeklong visit to various immigration detention facilitates in Texas and Arizona. According to the IACHR, "the purpose…

Obama Administration Must Abandon Force-Feeding at Gitmo

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 1:48pm

The medical professionals worked to strap the detainee "into a chair, Velcro his head to a metal restraint, then tether a tube into the man's stomach through his nose to pump in liquid nourishment twice a day."

After the Miami Herald wrote about the 30 hunger striking detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention camps in January, we were concerned. We wrote an urgent letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates to bring his attention to the cruel, inhuman, degrading and unlawful treatment of the 30 hunger striking detainees. In that letter, we pointed out that hunger strikes were indications of a larger problem concerning the conditions of confinement at the detention camp. A week later, Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch joined us in writing to President Obama requesting full access to the detention facility at Guantánamo to independently examine and report on conditions of confinement. We still have not received an answer to our request.

When President Obama issued an executive order calling on the Department of Defense (DOD) to investigate conditions of confinement at Guantánamo and whether they conformed to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and to "other applicable laws," we hoped that the DOD report would shed some light on the actual conditions at the camp and the role of medical personnel during interrogations and forced feedings.

One month later, the DOD report came out and the DOD – unsurprisingly, since the DOD was policing itself – claimed that conditions at Gitmo were in compliance with the Geneva Conventions. We knew this was a total whitewash, and that a real independent assessment would be necessary to ascertain the actual conditions at Guantánamo.

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