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CRS — Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions (December 11, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States has led the international community in imposing economic sanctions on Iran, in an effort to change the government of that country’s support of acts of international terrorism, poor human rights record, weapons and missile development and acquisition, role in regional instability, and development of a nuclear program.

This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its objectionable activities in the areas of terrorism, human rights, and weapons proliferation. It will be updated if and when new legislation is enacted, or, in the case of executive orders, if and when the President takes additional steps to change U.S. policy toward Iran.

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Documents in the News — Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary
Source: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Committee makes the following findings and conclusions

#1 The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2 The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3 The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

#4 The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5 The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6 The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7 The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8 The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9 The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

#10 The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11 The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12 The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

#13 Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

#14 CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15 The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

#16 The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

#17 The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

#18 The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

#19 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

#20 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

To Walk the Earth in Safety (2014)

December 9, 2014 Comments off

To Walk the Earth in Safety (2014)
Source: U.S. Department of State

The 13th edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety describes the programs and partnerships that comprise the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) Program. Since 1993, the U.S. has led the international donor community in reducing the harmful effects of poorly secured, unstable or illegally traded conventional weapons of war. We have contributed over $2.3 billion to more than 90 countries around the world.

UK — Modern slavery strategy

December 4, 2014 Comments off

Modern slavery strategy
Source: Home Office

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

This strategy details the wide-ranging actions that we expect from government departments, agencies and partners in the UK and, importantly, internationally. Civil society organisations are equally important partners in delivering commitments across our response.

The scale of modern slavery in the UK is significant. Modern slavery crimes are being committed across the country and there have been year on year increases in the number of victims identified. Work by the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bernard Silverman, has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK.

Committee against Torture — Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America

December 3, 2014 Comments off

Committee against Torture — Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

“The Committee welcomes the State party’s unequivocal commitment to abide by the universal prohibition of torture and ill-treatment everywhere, including Bagram and Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, as well as the assurances that U.S. personnel are legally prohibited under international and domestic law from engaging in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment at all times, and in all places. The Committee notes that the State party has reviewed its position concerning the extraterritorial application of the Convention, and stated that it applies to ‘certain areas beyond’ its sovereign territory, and more specifically to ‘all places that the State party controls as a governmental authority,’ noting that it currently exercises such control at ‘the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and over all proceedings conducted there, and with respect to U.S.-registered ships and aircraft.’ The Committee also values the statement made by the State party’s delegation that the reservation to article 16 of the Convention, whose intended purpose is to ensure that existing U.S. constitutional standards satisfy the State party’s obligations under article 16, ‘does not introduce any limitation to the geographic applicability of article 16,’ and that ‘the obligations in article 16 apply beyond the sovereign territory of the United States to any territory under its jurisdiction’ under the terms mentioned above.’

However, the Committee is dismayed that the State party’s reservation to article 16 of the Convention features in various declassified memoranda containing legal interpretations on the extraterritorial applicability of U.S. obligations under the Convention issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2001 and 2009, as part of deeply flawed legal arguments used to advise that interrogation techniques, which amounted to torture, could be authorized and used lawfully. While noting that these memoranda were revoked by Presidential Executive Order 13491 to the extent of their inconsistency with that order, the Committee remains concerned that the State party has not withdrawn yet its reservation to article 16 which could permit interpretations incompatible with the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

Global Slavery Index

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Global Slavery Index (PDF)
Source: Walk Free Foundation

This is the second edition of the Global Slavery Index (‘the Index’). The Index estimates the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries. This year’s Index also includes an analysis of what governments are doing to eradicate modern slavery. In addition to measuring the extent of the problem and the actions taken, the Index increases our understanding of the contextual factors that make people vulnerable to modern slavery.

The Index is the flagship report produced by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights organisation dedicated to ending modern slavery.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index estimates there are 35.8 million people living in some form of modern slavery globally

“There is No Freedom Here” — Silencing Dissent in the United Arab Emirates

November 20, 2014 Comments off

“There is No Freedom Here” — Silencing Dissent in the United Arab Emirates
Source: Amnesty International

Scores of activists in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been harassed, arrested and in some cases tortured in custody according to a new report by Amnesty International that sheds light on the repressive tactics widely used by the government to silence its critics.

“There is No Freedom Here:” Silencing Dissent in the UAE lifts the lid on the climate of fear that has taken hold in the country since 2011, with the authorities going to extreme lengths to stamp out any sign of dissent, criticism or calls for reform in the wake of the mass popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Those targeted include lawyers, university professors, students and civil society activists, some of whom are linked to the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a peaceful grassroots organization that the government claims has links to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The clampdown has also targeted their family members.

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