January 11, 2012 marks the ten-year “anniversary” of the first detainees imprisoned at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, nearly 170 men remain in Guantanamo--incarcerated without ever having been tried for a crime, yet living in severe conditions and cut off from their families and communities. Many have survived torture and abuse at the hands of their American captors. They do not know when, if ever, they will leave the prison. It is time to close Guantanamo and stop this illegal and immoral practice.
This December marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Convoy of Death.” During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the US and the Afghan Northern Alliance were shot or suffocated to death in sealed truck containers while being transferred by Northern Alliance forces. The dead prisoners – some of who had been tortured - were then buried in a mass grave in a northern Afghanistan desert at Dasht-e-Leili.
Earlier this week, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda was chosen to be the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She will be the second person, and the first African, to hold this position. Bensouda was the likely choice for the position given her professional qualifications, including serving as Deputy Prosecutor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his nine-year tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the Court. Given the extent of the ICC’s work in Africa – all seven of the countries with cases before the court are African – the choice of an African prosecutor seems especially appropriate.
Bipartisan efforts are few and far between these days, but finally, there seems to be one issue that House Democrats and Republicans can agree upon: no one held in US custody should be at risk for rape or sexual assault.
At the recent Republican debate, the presidential candidates were asked if waterboarding is torture. Their answers were shocking, in more ways than one. Even if Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman hadn’t blown the curve, everyone else would have failed the human rights test miserably.