A group of 18 experts convented by the U.N. to monitor the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights rebuked the U.S. on Friday for secret detention facilities, extraordinary renditions, denial of judicial process to Guantanamo prisoners, asylum and immigration rules, the death penalty, life imprisonment without parole for child offenders, police brutality, ill-treatment in prisons, lack of judicial oversight of phone tapping and electronic surveillance by the security services, the use of immigration law to detain terrorist suspects, and the disenfranchisement of about 5,000,000 U.S. citizens because of felony convictions, London's Financial Times reported Friday.[1] ...

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U.N. WATCHDOG REBUKES U.S. OVER RIGHTS
By Frances Williams

Financial Times (UK)
July 28, 2006

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/e068c5b4-1e5a-11db-9877-0000779e2340.html

GENEVA -- The U.S. was on Friday roundly rebuked by a key United Nations human rights watchdog for violations of international law at home and abroad, especially in connection with its so-called "war on terror."

The U.N. human rights committee called on Washington to immediately close all secret detention facilities, halt "renditions" to countries that practice torture, and give prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, access to the courts to challenge their detention and treatment.

It also criticized U.S. asylum and immigration rules as well as aspects of its criminal justice system, including the death penalty, life imprisonment without parole for child offenders, police brutality, and ill-treatment in prisons.

The committee of 18 independent experts, which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was examining U.S. compliance with the covenant for the first time since 1995.

The U.N. pact lays down individual rights, including the right to protection from arbitrary arrest and torture, and to a fair trial.

U.S. officials reacted angrily to the report, saying it dealt with issues outside its remit. In a statement, the U.S. mission to the U.N. in Geneva said the committee had lost "perspective and credibility" in spending more time criticizing the U.S. than countries such as North Korea which had no civil or political rights.

But Christine Chanet, the French magistrate who chairs the committee, said it had "simply done its job according to its mandate."

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. to adopt the committee's recommendations, which "reflect a growing international consensus that the U.S. is violating basic human rights norms."

The recommendations, which have moral force but are not binding, echo similar calls by the U.N. committee against torture in May. The U.S. has been asked to respond to both committees' comments within a year.

On the domestic front, the committee expressed concern over the lack of judicial oversight of phone tapping and electronic surveillance by the security services, and the use of immigration law to detain terrorist suspects.

It also called for a moratorium on the death penalty and an end to the practice of sentencing juveniles to life in jail without parole, which affects more than 2,200 inmates who were under 18 at the time of the crime.

The committee urged the restoration of the right to vote to about 5m U.S. citizens disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.