WASHINGTON -- March 3 -- The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and other Petitioners today went before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights a hearing they were granted to argue that the U.S. continues to violate its own treaties as well as international and domestic law in its treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere. The United States is a member of the Organization of American States and signed the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in 1948.
Based on requests by the Center for Constitutional Rights and others, the Commission originally issued Precautionary Measures in March 2002, requesting that the U.S. Government take the urgent measures necessary to have the legal status of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay determined by a competent tribunal. In 2003, the Commission requested that the U.S. provide information, including their policies and practices, regarding the treatment of individuals detained in other facilities; and in 2004, the Commission requested that the U.S. investigate and prosecute officials responsible for the torture of detainees, including high-ranking officials accountable through superior responsibility.
CCR requested todays hearing to update the Commission on new information and documents that have come to light about the U.S. Governments treatment of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere, and to seek to extend the Measures to cover the potential use of information obtained through torture in ongoing military and judicial proceedings. Petitioners also responded to the December 2004 submission by the U.S. Government, which continues to argue that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to issue precautionary measures to the U.S. and now inaccurately claims that domestic remedies must be exhausted through the habeas petitions and military tribunals, despite the fact that the Bush Administration has done everything possible to impede detainees access to the courts.
Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Maria LaHood, who argued today, said, The Bush Administration has consistently and blatantly violated its obligations under international law in relation to the detention and torture of detainees. As a country, we have been internationally condemned for our actions, and it is time for those who are truly responsible to be held accountable. We hope the Commission will act on the information we have provided today and continue to put pressure on the U.S. government to comply with its legal obligations.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has also filed a war crimes complaint with the German Prosecutor to hold Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other high-ranking officials accountable for the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. CCR filed the first suit in U.S. court on behalf of the detainees at Guantánamo in early 2002 and won in the Supreme Court in June 2004, and also has cases pending against officials responsible for the torture and rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar and against the private government contractors at Abu Ghraib.
Also on March 3, the Inter-American Commission will hear testimony on slavery and other human rights violations committed against the Imoklee workers in Florida, and CCR has signed onto testimony by a coalition of human rights organizations. On Friday, March 4, the OAS will hear testimony from CCR allies challenging the United States failure to meet its obligations under international law on the right to housing.