The United States leads the developed world in the number and percentage of children it locks up. A large number – more than 90,000 in each of the past five years, and some as young as at age 13 – are held in adult jails and prisons, where they are often isolated from the other prisoners for their own protection. They don’t fare much better in many state juvenile facilities, where isolation practices, some deemed excessive by the Department of Justice, are widely reported.
Solitary confinement – being held in isolation for 22-24 hours a day, day in and day out – can be harmful even for adults. But the potential damage to children, who do not have the maturity and resilience of an adult and are at a particularly vulnerable, formative stage of life, is much greater.
“Kids who had been in solitary told me how they lost control. They described fits of rage, anxiety attacks, depression. They told me about being denied adequate exercise, books and education, family visits. “The only thing left to do is go crazy – just sit and talk to the walls,” a youth confined in Florida told me. “Screaming, throwing stuff around – I feel like I am alone, like no one cares about me. Sometimes I feel like, why am I even living?” More than a few spoke in candid detail about trying to kill themselves. In fact, more than half of all suicides in juvenile facilities occurred when children were in isolation.”
- Ian Kysel, Human Rights Watch fellow. Read more here.
Photo: A cell at the Pinellas County jail, an adult facility where young people are held in solitary confinement. One girl interviewed for the report said she spent four months in isolation there. © 2008 AP Photo/Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Criminal defamation charges against Andy Hall, a prominent labor activist, violate his right to free speech and will have a chilling effect on investigations of alleged rights abuses by companies in Thailand.
The charges stem from a defamation complaint filed on February 14 by the Natural Fruit Company Limited for an investigative report about serious labor rights violations at the company’s factory. If convicted, Hall faces up to two years in prison and civil damages of 300 million baht (US$10 million).
Hall’s report, “Cheap has a high price: Responsibility problems relating to international private label products and food production in Thailand,” alleged that Natural Fruit Company Limited had committed serious labor rights abuses, including poor working conditions, unlawfully low wages, confiscation of workers’ official documents, use of child labor, and excessive overtime.
This is what globalization looks like…
“Zero Dark Thirty is like a gorgeously-rendered monument to the fatal political miscalculation we made during the Bush years. It’s a cliché but it’s true: Bin Laden wanted us to make this mistake. He wanted America to respond to him by throwing off our carefully-crafted blanket of global respectability to reveal a brutal, repressive hypocrite underneath. He wanted us to stop pretending that we’re the country that handcuffs you and reads you your rights instead of extralegally drone-bombing you from the stratosphere, or putting one in your brain in an Egyptian basement somewhere. The only way we were ever going to win the War on Terror was to win a long, slow, political battle, in which we proved bin Laden wrong, where we allowed people in the Middle East to assess us as a nation and decide we didn’t deserve to be mass-murdered. To use another cliché, we needed to win hearts and minds. We had to make lunatics like bin Laden pariahs among their own people, which in turn would make genuine terrorists easier to catch with the aid of genuinely sympathetic local populations. Instead, we turned people like bin Laden into heroes.”
The NYPD and other police departments received some international condemnation on Friday by the OSCE (Organization of Security Cooperation in Europe) for its treatment of journalists and protesters during Occupy rallies. The OSCE, of which the US is itself a part, surveyed various countries and their responses to freedom of assembly, and released a report in Vienna on Friday. The report concluded that the practices of kettling protesters and obstructing journalist access, among other actions, amounted to violations of human rights standards based on OSCE member country commitments.
The report, which importantly highlights that in dealing with freedom of the press, police ought not to make distinctions between credentialed journalists and citizen journalists, says this:
Restrictions on the activities of journalists such as the ones imposed during the eviction of the Occupy camps in Los Angeles and New York appear to have been imposed also with the purpose of limiting coverage by the media of these events. As such, they are not in line with relevant OSCE commitments and other human rights standards.
Read the full report here.
And read what a guest writer on this blog had to say about her experiences as a Muslim-American and a hijabi Occupy demonstrator when she was part of those rounded up by the NYPD.
Photo: A man is arrested during protests marking Occupy’s first anniversary this past September. Ramin Talaie/EPA.
The brother of al Qaeda’s second-in-command, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike, said Washington’s use of the remote-controlled weapons is inhumane and makes a nonsense of its claims to champion human rights.
U.S. officials said on Tuesday that Libyan-born al Qaeda operative Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan, in what was described as a major blow to the militant group.
The attack is likely to fuel an increasingly fierce debate about the legality and morality of the drones, which have become one of the chief U.S. weapons against al Qaeda but which opponents say stretch the definition of the legitimate use of lethal force.
I wonder if there’s something roughly equivalent between the dehumanizing necessary for committing acts of close savagery, such as decapitation, and the cold impersonality of the drone operator’s videogame-like experience . Both are extremely inhumane if you ask me.
From Israel’s ‘national suicide’ by Mark LeVine
Simply put, the threat of a Palestinian “demographic bomb”, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has called it, is little more than a contrivance to justify the further exclusion of Palestinians from full citizenship rights within Israel.
But accurate or not, the average Jewish Israeli is likely not spending much time parsing the logic or statistical foundations of the High Court’s decision - because they understand the deeper meaning of the argument underlying the decision’s title: to extend full human rights to Palestinians will lead inevitably to the “national” - that is, political - suicide of Israel as a Jewish state.
Because to recognise that Jews and Palestinians can become one in the most intimate way possible - through love, sex and children - is to open Israeli Jews to the possibility that there is nothing essential that separates them from Palestinians, that as human beings with deep roots in this land, Palestinians have the same human rights as Israeli (or diaspora) Jews.
Two lawsuits by three Chinese dissidents and a human rights group accusing Cisco Systems Inc. of abetting imprisonment and torture could have far-reaching impact on how U.S. technology companies conduct business in authoritarian regimes.
The lawsuits filed in May and June target a second technology company for complicity in human rights abuses in China after Yahoo Inc. in 2007 paid to settle a case in which it was accused of aiding the prosecution of dissidents.
The lawsuits are drawing broad attention from U.S. companies because these are important test cases of the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law dating back to 1789 that accommodates actions in U.S. courts to uphold international law.
So … perhaps we’ll soon see about an answer to the above question. It all seems pretty clear to me, given the specifics of the complaint against Cisco, but then again I’m someone who generally seeks to promote the idea of universal human rights …
Much more here (HT: Dave Forsythe).