UN Slams US Human Rights Record During the ‘War on Terror’ 2

In an extremely critical report, Martin Scheinin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, documents findings from his mission to the US in May.

The full report (pdf) can be downloaded from:


It provides a comprehensive critique of the US administration and its failure to tackle terrorism within existing and adequate legal frameworks. Some of the key findings and recommendations are highlighted below:

– The UN Special Rapporteur concludes that the international fight against terrorism is not a “war” in the true sense of the word, and reminds the United States that even during an armed conflict triggering the application of international humanitarian law, international human rights law continues to apply.

– concludes that the categorization of detainees as “unlawful enemy combatants” is a term of convenience without legal effect. He expresses grave concern about the inability of detainees to seek full judicial review of determinations and loss of habeas corpus rights

– urges continued and determined action towards the expressed wish of the United States to move towards closure of Guantanamo Bay

– notes that the Government’s justification for military commissions is incorrect as a matter of fact because ordinary courts martial have had the jurisdiction to try violations of the laws of armed conflict

– the report addresses the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects, and their detention in “classified locations”, and the accountability of those responsible for conducting interrogation by techniques amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

– urges the United States to ensure that all its officials and agencies comply with international standards, including article 7 of ICCPR, the Convention against Torture and, in the context of an armed conflict, common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

– urges the Government to take transparent steps to ensure that the CIA practice of “extraordinary rendition” is completely discontinued and is not conducted in the future, and that CIA interrogation techniques are regulated in line with the position expressed above in respect of the Army Field Manual.

– urges the Government to restrict definitions of “international terrorism”, “domestic terrorism” and “material support to terrorist organizations” in a way that is precise

– urges all States not to act in a manner which might be seen as advocating the use of race and religion for the identification of persons as terrorists.

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