Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dangerous turn in US human rights
In a move that sets a perilous precedent, and driven through under the broad umbrella of the "War on Terror", the US Senate has approved the limiting of 'enemy combatant' detainees' right to contest their detention. In what was a simple law for traditional war-time detainees, the Americans' loose definition of 'enemy combatants' under the War on Terror has meant that suspects can be detained anywhere for anything, without any recourse. The War on Terror has changed the rules, and where a person is being arrested whilst not involved in a traditional military war (I.e. for suspicion of a criminal act) limiting his or her right to appeal detention is, in my view, a stark restriction of basic human rights.

Law has to involve a balance of reason and be held up to the light of challenge, and - as we saw in the war in Iraq - intelligence is not always perfect. This amendment is concerning.