UN panel report slams US over human rights record

March 28, 2014 - 5:49:33 am

NEW YORK: The UN has delivered a withering verdict on the US human rights record, raising concerns on issues, including torture, drone strikes, the failure to close Guantánamo Bay and NSA’s bulk collection of personal data.

In its first report on US rights record since 2006, it also called for the prosecution of anyone who ordered or carried out killings, abductions and torture under a CIA programme at the time of President George W Bush, and keep a promise to close the detention facility at the bay.

The report was delivered by the UN Human Rights Committee in an assessment of how the US is complying with International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in force since the mid-1970s.

The panel, chaired by British law professor Sir Nigel Rodley, catalogued human rights concerns, notably on the mass surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden.

It said the collection of the contents of communications from US-based companies under the Prism programme had an adverse impact on the right to privacy. It added that the legal oversight of such programmes had largely been kept secret and failed to protect the rights of those affected. The committee urged the US to overhaul its surveillance activities to ensure they complied with US law and conformed to US obligations under ICCPR.

The comments come as the Obama administration sets out how it proposes to end the mass collection of Americans’ phone call data and make the searching of records held by telephone companies subject to a court order.

In its 11-page report, the panel also criticised the US for failing to prosecute senior members of its armed forces and private contractors involved in torture and targeted killings.

It said only a “meagre number” of criminal charges had been brought against low-level operatives. It expressed concern that all investigations into forced disappearances and torture under the CIA’s rendition programme were closed in 2012, and details of the programme remained secret, creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims.

The Guardian/Reuters