Crime and Human Rights
International Council on Human Rights Policy, Crime, Public Order and Human Rights.
This report by ICHRP provides a thorough analysis of the challenges that human rights groups must address in the context of rising crime, hard-line policies and a public supportive of such measures. The report includes papers authored by human rights advocates in Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina, and Brazil grappling with this issue.
Elaine Sciolino, "A Crime-Weary France Plans a Crackdown," New York Times, October 24, 2002, p. A6.
This article highlights the increasing incidence of violent crime in France and the government's new anti-crime bill that criminalizes and penalizes target groups of people, such as prostitutes and beggars. Sciolino highlights French support and opposition to the bill. Her examples of public comment on the expansion of police power waver between calls for security and accusations of unwarranted aggression.
Norimitsu Onishi, "Nigerian Militias Wield Power Through Intimidation," New York Times, October 6, 2002, late ed., sec.1: 3.
This article examines the killing of two prominent lawyers and critics of the Nigerian government by the well-known Nigerian vigilante group-the Bakassi Boys. The article uses this example to underscore that the state-sanctioned vigilante militias are not only brutalizing street criminals, but political and ethnic opponents as well.
Human Rights Watch, The OPC: Fighting Violence With Violence (February 2003).
In this report, researchers profile the O'odua People's Congress, an ethnic vigilante militia in Nigeria. The report highlights how public security in Nigeria has been consistently undermined by vigilante violence and explains how the OPC stands as both a perpetrator and victim of brutal violence. While members of the group attack alleged criminals and ethnic minorities, they themselves are brutally attacked by heavy-handed police. This report details abuses committed by and inflicted upon the OPC and investigates the relationship between the OPC, the government, and the police. Recommendations to remedy the unchecked violence and rights abuse are also issued.
Dan M. Kahan and Tracey L. Meares, "When Rights Are Wrong: Chicago's Paradox of Unwanted Rights", Boston Review (April/May 1999).
In this New Democracy Forum installment -"Do Rights Handcuff Democracy?"- Kahan and Meares challenge the fundamental liberal idea that constitutional rights are inalienable. They criticize the use of rights conceptualized in the 1960s as ill fit for the political reality of the 1990s. To prove their point, they use the case of Chicago inner-city residents supporting policies that directly interfere with their civil liberties - mass public housing searches, youth-curfews, and anti-loitering ordinances. In this case, the ACLU decided to override this public support in the name of respecting their rights. This raises important questions regarding the values and democratic control underlying civil liberties. Kahan and Meares argue that rights need be contextual and dependent on social and political conditions. Eleven response articles praise, rebut, and examine this "paradox of unwanted rights."
Statistics Cited in Human Rights Dialogue Introduction
Forty-three percent of the 1000 interviewees prefer combating crime with a strong hand even though this might entail abuses against delinquents. Poll requested by the Legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires, conducted by Catterberg & Associates - Province of Buenos Aires, February 2000. 44 percent of the people prefer order and security rather than freedom and democracy. Poll conducted by Graciela Römer & Associates - Gran Buenos Aires, published by Graciela Clarín, July 25th, 2000.
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, United States
The Ella Baker Center aims to expose and challenge human rights abuses in the U.S. criminal justice system. Based in San Francisco, Center programs target the prison industry and justice system of California and mobilize low-income communities and communities of color. Through cultural activism, legal services, community organizing and education, grassroots campaigns advocate a "human investment" agenda for the achievement of human rights.
Global Justice Center, Brazil
Based in Rio de Janeiro, the Global Justice Center advocates human rights and social justice through the documentation of violations and training of local groups. Human Rights petitions submitted by the Center to the Organization of American States and the UN may be accessed through this site. Also included are links to various local Brazilian rights groups. The site is in English and Portuguese, though some text is available only in Portuguese.
Center for Law Enforcement Education, Nigeria
The Center for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria (CLEEN) is a pioneering human rights organization based in Lagos. CLEEN's mission is to engage the law enforcement community in the discourse of human rights. Through human rights education, CLEEN aims to promote the understanding and development of rights and responsibilities between members of law enforcement and civil society. Further information regarding organized crime, police reform and human rights in Nigeria is also available at this site.
Institute for Security Studies, South Africa
ISS's initiatives in strategic studies and peace research are spearheading security analysis on the African continent. This site contains a wealth of publications concerning security in Africa, including working papers, conference reports, monographs, books, and quarterly publications. A limited number of texts is also available in French and Portuguese. Another useful resource on the topic of public security is the Criminal Justice Monitor-an independent source of information on public opinion, crime, and law enforcement that has also focused on the issue of vigilantism.
Terrorism, National Security and Human Rights
David Cole, "Their Liberties, Our Security," Boston Review 27 (December 2002/January 2003).
David Cole explores the tumultuous balance between civil liberties and security and the often-illegitimate erosion of basic rights of non-citizens and immigrants in exchange for American security. He rebukes recent policies of guilt-by-association and suspicion-by-ethnicity, noting them as government traditions that hail back to McCarthy-era politics and World War II internments. This article provides the focal point for a series of engaging responses that supplement and criticize Cole's arguments and comprise the Boston Review's New Democracy Forum on "Democracy and Double Standards after 9/11."
"Defining and Responding to Terrorism," Social Research 69.4 (Winter 2002).
Part IV of this issue of Social Research, Defining and Responding to Terrorism is derived from a New School University conference entitled, "International Justice, War Crimes and Terrorism: The U.S. Record." Essays by Michael Ignatieff and David Rieff examine the role of the human rights framework in the pursuit for global justice and security.
William F. Schulz, "The Torturer's Apprentice: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age," The Nation (May 13, 2002).
Alan Dershowitz, author of Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age, falls under scrutiny in this book review written by the executive director of Amnesty International USA, William F. Schultz. The focus of this review is Dershowitz's argument that authorized torture may be an effective device to ensure public security. Schultz dissects the rationale and potential chaos implied in Dershowitz's proposal.
CNN News Transcript, "The Use of Torture - A Debate between Kenneth Roth and Alan Dershowitz," March 4, 2003.
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch strictly opposes the use of torture on any grounds, while Alan Dershowitz calls for government accountability, openness, and a legal framework to implement such a tactic that would otherwise be used covertly and dangerously.
Barton Gellman and Dana Priest, "U.S. Decries Abuse But Defends Interrogations," Washington Post, December 26, 2002, A01.
One of the most highly referred to sources in the current debate on the United States' use of torture, this article discloses the "stress and duress" tactics used by the CIA and military officials on terrorist suspects detained overseas.
"Ends, Means, and Barbarity," The Economist, January 9, 2003.
This special report uses the Washington Post article to explore whether torture can be justified. Is it effective in fighting terrorism? What tactics of detention and interrogation are considered "torture"? The most controversial item discussed is the act of handing over suspects to other countries well known for their torture tactics. This article questions whether American officials are bending the law to embrace such an indirect, systematic use of torture.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Federation International des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme, Human Rights Watch and International Commission of Jurists, Open statement to the 2002 Commission on Human Rights from Amnesty International, March 22, 2002.
In response to the Security Council resolution that requires states to adopt anti-terrorist measures, the open letter from prominent human rights organizations requests that the Commission assess the human rights implications of anti-terrorist measures.
Kofi Annan, "Globalization, Terrorism, Universality of Human Rights," United Nations Press Release, November 27, 2002.
In commemoration of Human Rights Day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for a renewed commitment to the rule of international law. He proclaims the strength of international law remains in its "grounding in the fundamental rights of all people," and therefore, it is the best guarantor of security and freedom.
Council of Europe, Guidelines on Human Rights and the Fight Against Terrorism, 2002.
In this publication, The Council of Europe provides a guideline for both member and nonmember states on how to effectively combat terrorism while respecting human rights. The publication may be purchased on-line in French and English editions.
"Security and Human Rights in Colombia," The Economist, November 7, 2002.
This article addresses a series of emergency decrees that grant government and security officials new powers and resources to improve security. President Uribe has received both public support and criticism from Colombia's constitutional court and the international community. This article explains the growing rift between ensuring public safety and preventing rights abuses in Colombia.
Steven David, "Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing," Ethics & International Affairs 17, No.1 (Spring 2003).
David argues that Israel's policy of targeted killing is legal, moral, and the best-of-the-worst counter-terrorist options. Of particular interest is his point that although targeted killings may jeopardize security, it remains a welcome policy among the Israeli public.
Yael Stein's response, "By Any Name Illegal and Immoral," counters many of David's points by reviewing the policy's legitimacy according to International, Israeli and Human Rights Law. Stein argues that the Palestinian violations of international law do not morally or legally legitimize these violations perpetrated by Israel.
The Pluralism Project, Civil Liberties After September 11th.
The Pluralism Project, a research center at Harvard University dedicated to the study of U.S. religious diversity, provides a comprehensive list of annotated links to media articles, government sites and various organizations regarding civil liberties and security in the United States. The list provides an exhaustive list of cultural, legal, and public policy organizations and their respective campaigns and responses to the post-September 11th civil liberties restrictions.
National Public Radio, "Americans More Concerned with Liberties, Back War on Terrorism," September 9, 2002.
This link provides an analysis of a collaborative polling project conducted by NPR, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and the Kaiser Foundation. The poll explores how government actions to pursue the war on terrorism are perceived by the public. This poll also gauges interesting public notions of citizenship and legal rights.
Post-September 11th Human Rights Reports
These three reports are in depth resources on civil liberties in the United States post-September 11. All three reports include specific recommendations to the government on issues of immigration, criminal justice and public security.
- The Center for Constitutional Rights, The State of Civil Liberties: One Year Later—Erosion of Civil Liberties in the Post 9/11 Era (September 2002).
This report criticizes the Bush Administration and its failure to uphold government transparency, separation of powers, and international law.
- Human Rights Watch, Presumption of Guilt: Human Rights Abuses of Post-September 11 Detainees (August 2002).
In this report, Human Rights Watch specifies the U.S. violation of rights in regards to the treatment of detainees-investigating the conditions of arrest, interrogation, and detention through extensive interviews with detainees and their lawyers.
- Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, A Year of Loss: Reexamining Civil Liberties since September 11 (September 2002).
The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights examines the civic lessons and civic losses following September 11th. The report questions the USA Patriot Act, the future of Operation TIPS, the role of Congress and the federal courts, and the treatment of immigrants and detainees.
American Civil Liberties Union, United States
As the nation's self-proclaimed "guardian of liberty," the ACLU works in courts, legislatures, and communities supported by chapters, affiliates, and individual members in every state. Their website provides fact sheet, publications, and legislative updates on over twenty-two issues, including immigrant rights, international civil liberties and national security.
Arab-American Institute, United States
The Arab-American Institute (AAI) is committed to the civil and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. To foster Arab American participation in national, state and local government, AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services. This site serves as a forum for consensus positions on domestic and foreign policy relations. Additionally it offers a legislative action center, resources for students, demographic profiles of Arabs in America, and specific documents and services that address post-September 11th civil liberties issues.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, United States
This New York-based legal and educational organization aims to protect and advance rights as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and Universal Declaration on Human Rights. CCR actively and creatively works for justice and social change through legal programs, education and outreach.
Center for International Policy, United States
Based in Washington, D.C., this is an independent research and educational organization that advocates foreign policy based on international cooperation and respect for human rights. The website presents working papers, articles, scholarly publications, and policy papers to comprise a substantial source of information on foreign policy issues.
Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement, Colombia
The Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), a leading human rights organization in Bogotá, focuses on monitoring and researching rights abuses in Colombia. This website text is Spanish, with the exception of InfoBrief, a weekly news summary of U.S./Colombian events.
In Defense of Freedom Coalition, United States
View the statement by 300 law professors, 40 computer scientists, and 150 organizations across the United States released days after the September 11th attacks. This impromptu, albeit important coalition called upon political leaders and the country to act in accordance with civil liberties, democratic principles, and international law in the wake of September 11.
Institute for Legal Defense, Peru
As Lima's leading human rights organization, IDL works to promote and defend human rights alongside processes of peace-building and democratic consolidation in Peru. Within this framework, mass communication programs supplement legal and educational activities. The IDL website offers Spanish text only.
Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel
This organization is concerned specifically with communicating the Jewish tradition of human rights. Through this nonpartisan and faith-based organization, human rights are linked to Jewish mores of humanness and moral responsibility. Rabbis for Human Rights engages both secular and religious sects of society in dialogue and education. Some of its many projects focus on rights of the non-Jewish minority, foreign workers, and the status of women. The website contains information on additional projects and a subscription-based discussion group.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
SUARAM is a leading activist and human rights organization in Malaysia. Through ten years of advocacy, monitoring, and documenting human rights abuses, it has piloted campaigns for greater civil and political rights. This site contains news on human rights in Malaysia and provides a link to the Asian Peoples' Security Network.
Washington Office on Latin America, United States
WOLA is the leading organization in Washington, D.C. that bridges U.S policy with human rights, democracy, and social and economic justice in Latin America. This website offers publications organized by issue and country. Its program on public security, police reform and human rights is particularly relevant.
Human Rights Watch, Opportunism in the Face of Tragedy: Repression in the Name of Anti-Terrorism.
While in the months following September 11, the world was focused on efforts to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice and to prevent additional terrorist attacks, many countries around the globe have attempted to take advantage of this struggle to intensify their own crackdowns on political opponents, separatists and religious groups, or to suggest they should be immune from criticism of their human rights practices. Human Rights Watch documents these "opportunistic" statements and actions.