The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

U.N. Expert On Extrajudicial Killings Calls For Special Prosecutor

Transparency And Accountability Critical To Upholding The Rule Of Law


U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings called for a special
prosecutor to investigate the policies and practices that have led to
unlawful deaths and other abuses in the United States' international
operations. In a report made public late yesterday, Special Rapporteur
Philip Alston said there have been "chronic and deplorable
accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct
that led to alleged unlawful killings."

Alston's report also highlights
issues of unlawful deaths within the U.S. for which the government may
be responsible, including flaws in the death penalty system that
increase the likelihood that innocent people will be executed and
deaths in immigration detention.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program:

"The special rapporteur's report
presents a critical opportunity for the Obama administration to examine
government policies that have led to unlawful deaths at home and
abroad, and we are hopeful the president will take seriously the
report's recommendations. The administration should demand an end to
the pervasive culture of impunity for officials in U.S.-run prisons and
immigrant detention facilities. Those responsible for deaths there
should be held accountable. The administration must also address the
lack of due process that severely increases the chance that our
government will execute innocent people. To claim the moral high ground
and assert leadership on the issue of human rights, we must first shine
a bright light on the policies of the U.S. government that have led to
unlawful deaths."

Alston's report includes several recommendations for the U.S. government to address unlawful killings:

* ensuring that imposition of the death penalty complies with fundamental due process requirements;
providing greater transparency into law enforcement, military and
intelligence operations that result in potentially unlawful deaths;
* investigating and punishing unlawful deaths in U.S. international operations;
* promptly and publicly reporting
and investigating all deaths in immigration detention and ensuring
medical care consistent with international standards;
* adhering to due process
requirements under international human rights and humanitarian law in
the prosecution of Guantanamo detainees; and
* releasing complete and
unredacted investigations and autopsy results into the deaths of
Guantanamo detainees to family members.

The special rapporteur, whose
mandate is to investigate any killing that violates international human
rights and humanitarian law, toured the United States on a fact-finding
mission in June 2008, meeting with federal and local government
officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations. He
will present his findings at the next session of the U.N. Human Rights
Council beginning next week. The United States will participate as a
member for the first time since the Council's inception.

An advance copy of the report is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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