Sunday, June 26, 2011

Martial law provision secretly passed in Congress Committee

By Deborah Dupre, Human Rights Examiner
June 25, 2011 10:12 am ET

Martial Law provision goes to Senate

A noted human rights group spokesperson has stated that the mandatory military detention provision that the Senate Armed Services Committee secretly discussed and passed this week, is what martial-law states, not democracies do.

The Senate Armed Services Committee's vote this week redefined rules for detaining terrorism suspects, including giving power to military judges to review cases of prisoners in Afghanistan and mandating military detention for important Qaeda suspects even captured on United States soil according to The New York Times.

The Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program senior counsel for Human Rights Watch, Andrea Prasow said “mandatory military detention is what martial-law states do, not democracies” reported The Times.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.

The Times reported Friday that "the vote took place in a closed session and the text of the legislation has not been made public."

The secretly discussed and approved package passed with a 25 to 1 vote as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Only a brief summary of the act as a whole has been released.

The mandatory detention provision was drafted by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman, and Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The Committee on Armed Services is the United States Senate committee that is empowered with legislative oversight of the United States military, including: the Department of Defense, military research and development, nuclear energy (related to national security), members of the military benefits, the Selective Service System and other defense policy matters. (Wikipedia)

The Senate now decides whether to pass the bill.

Human rights defender Andrea Prasow called mandatory detention provision an “outrageous” undermining of prosecutorial discretion.

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Prasow was a defense attorney with the Office of Military Commissions. She served as assistant counsel for Salim Hamdan in the only contested military commission trial to date.

As an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York, Prasow served as habeas counsel for ten Saudi detainees at Guantanamo that took her to Bahrain, Yemen and Afghanistan.

She is a leading advocate for urging Washington executive branch and congress to implement counterterrorism policies that respect internationally recognized human rights.

Having recently returned from Kabul, today, from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York where she will be on panels after films screened Sunday at 4:00 and 6:30pm, Prasow wrote the following message on Twitter:

"Lots of great questions at [Human Rights Watch] film fest tonight re why Obama terrorism prosecutions as bad as under Bush. Wish I had great answers."


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