World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Bush threatens fundamental principles of justice

USA: Presidential order on military tribunals threatens fundamental principles of justice

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

15 November 2001 AMR 51/165/2001
202/01

Amnesty International is deeply troubled by the Military Order signed by President George W. Bush on 13 November allowing for the trial by special military commissions of non-US citizens suspected of involvement in "international terrorism."

Since the attacks in the USA on 11 September, Amnesty International has been calling for anyone suspected of involvement in these crimes to be brought to justice in accordance with international standards for a fair trial. This sweeping presidential order bypasses those fundamental principles, in contravention of US obligations under international law, specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the USA in 1992. As such it is unacceptable and should be revoked.

Amnesty International is particularly concerned that the Military Order:

- is discriminatory by affording foreign nationals a lower standard of justice than US nationals;

- gives unfettered and unchallengeable discretionary power to the executive to decide whom will be prosecuted and under what rules, as well as to review convictions and sentences. This is inconsistent with the principle of the separation of the executive and the judiciary;

- expressly bypasses the normal principles of law and rules of evidence applied in the trials of people charged with criminal offences in the US courts;

- provides no right of appeal against conviction or sentence to a higher court, or access to redress for any human rights violations that may occur during arrest, detention or prosecution;

Amnesty International believes that the Military Order creates a parallel system which violates fundamental principles of justice in any circumstances, including in times of war. For example, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, ratified by the USA in 1955, require that prisoners of war must be tried in courts which guarantee fundamental rights of fairness, including the right of appeal.

Amnesty International is particularly alarmed that the death penalty may be imposed by such a tribunal. International standards require that the legal process in any capital proceedings provide "all possible safeguards" to ensure a fair trial, including the right to appeal.

The Military Order creates the risk that people may be executed after a trial conducted by a court whose decision cannot be appealed but only reviewed by the executive who selected the individual for prosecution in the first place.

Amnesty International believes that the Military Order threatens to severely undermine, rather than reinforce, confidence in the administration of justice and maintenance of the rule of law. The organization considers that in proceedings undertaken pursuant to this order, justice will neither be done, nor seen to be done.

Times of crisis pose particular challenges to governments. It is precisely in such times that the principles of fair justice must be scrupulously upheld. The suffering of the victims of the attacks of 11 September, their families, and the public at large, deserves no less.

************

You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting Amnesty International and this footer remain intact.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

Myanmar: UN Chief Rohingya Refugee Crisis Enters Second Year

Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to ramshackle refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, Bangladesh after being forced from their homes by a military operation which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein compared, at the time, to ethnic cleansing. More>>

ALSO:

Scott Morrison In Hot Seat: NZ Congratulates Current Australian PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today congratulated Scott Morrison on winning the leadership of the Australian Liberal Party and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. More>>

ALSO:

Swing States: Gordon Campbell On Why The US Needs MMP

After the bizarre events this week in Helsinki, the world will be hoping and praying that the US midterm elections in November can put a restraining brake on the presidency of Donald Trump. This may happen, but there’s a highly undemocratic reason why such hopes may be frustrated. More>>

ALSO: