William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," charged: "The U.S. is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons, into which people are being literally disappeared, held in indefinite, incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families. And in some cases, at least, we know they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed."
A dozen men armed with assault rifles killed two children of a man who belongs to a peasant ecologist group in Mexico's Pacific coast state of Guerrero May 19, and soldiers arrested three members of the same group on weapons charges the following day. The shooting attack, which also wounded the boys' father, Alberto Peñaloza, and two older sons, occurred in the Sierra Petatlan, the scene of a decade-long struggle between loggers and campesinos. Peñaloza is a founder of the local Organization of Campesino Ecologists, which has blockaded logging trucks on the mountain roads.
The Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, a New York-based body coordinated by the Council on Foreign Relations, has released a detailed set of proposals that build on the recommendations adopted by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and U.S. President Bush at their March trilateral summit in Waco, TX. The recommendations concern how to pursue and strengthen the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which was adopted at that summit, to coordinate border security and anti-terrorist cooperation among the three NAFTA members.
What ironic timing. An official visit by the US Energy Secretary to Azerbaijan to mark the opening of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was immediately preceeded by violent repression of pro-democracy protests there. From the May 29 New York Times:
Washington - Samuel Bodman, the new secretary of energy, led the United States delegation to Azerbaijan last week to celebrate a huge moment in America's effort to diversify its sources of oil: The opening of a pipeline that will carry Caspian oil to the West, on a route that avoids Russia and Iran.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado released documents May 18 confirming that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Denver is targeting peaceful political activists for harassment and building files on constitutionally-protected political activities that have nothing to do with terrorism or other criminal activity.
The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is protesting the arrest of a second representative in Sudan. Vincent Hoedt, a Dutch national and regional coordinator for MSF in Darfur, was arrested May 31 in Nyala. A day earlier, MSF's head of mission Paul Foreman was arrested in Khartoum and later released on bail. "These arrests are totally unacceptable," said Geoff Prescott, general director of MSF in Amsterdam. "The government is punishing humanitarian aid workers for doing their job for victims of the conflict in Darfur."
In a detailed analysis of the European Union's counter-terrorism initiatives in the area of criminal law since 9-11, Amnesty International claims the absence of concrete human rights safeguards in many of these initiatives is likely to undermine efforts to fight terrorism in Europe. "Respect for human rights is often portrayed as hampering efforts to defeat terrorism but this new analysis shows how genuine security is undermined if basic human rights and the rule of law are not respected. It is in the breach, not in the protection of human rights that security is put at risk. That goes for the EU as well as anywhere else in the world," Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International's EU Office told a press conference in Brussels May 31.
The New York Police Department is requesting funds to install hundreds more video cameras throughout the city to help fight crime and combat terrorism. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly wants to put up some 400 surveillance cameras on high-crime and high-traffic streets to record action to be reviewed later if a crime occurs in the area. Locations for cameras have not yet been finalized but areas likely to be targeted for surveillance include Manhattan's Herald Square, Times Square and 125th Street in Harlem. There are already 80 such cameras in place, many installed during last summer's Republican Convention. Additionally, more than 3,000 cameras monitor the city's Housing Authority projects.