US must change its ways
Glenn Tucker, Guest Columnist
"I have always given it as my decided opinion that no nation had a right to intermeddle in the internal concerns of another; that everyone had a right to form and adopt whatever government they liked best to live under, themselves; and that, if this country could, consistently with its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality and thereby preserve peace, it was bound to do so by motives of policy, interest, and every other consideration" United States (US) President George Washington, letter to James Monroe, Aug 25, 1796.
Last Wednesday, former PM Bruce Golding, while speaking on Power 106, expressed the view that the US government lacked the moral authority to cite human-rights abuses as reasons for withdrawing support from our local security forces.
Attorney General Patrick Atkinson is about to burst a blood vessel. He is livid! So angry is he because a negative comment is made about the United States, he even got personal - making references to Golding's own resignation.
I seem to recall that Mr Atkinson's party used the 'Dudus' affair to render this country virtually ungovernable. Then PM Golding, in a televised speech, gave reasons why he was demitting office - an unusual and honourable thing for a Jamaican politician. Indeed, I suspect Mr Atkinson and some of his colleagues may be able to tell Bruce Golding a thing or two about his resignation.
Convener of the Tivoli Committee, Lloyd D'Aguilar, agrees with Mr Atkinson, claiming that he is in no position to criticise the US government because his (Golding's) hands are "just as dirty". Dirty as whose, Mr D'Aguilar? All this because he says Mr Golding is culpable for his role in the Tivoli military operation. After he answers my first question, maybe Mr D'Aguilar could explain Mr Golding's role.
Since I am not well known and nobody knows where I have hidden my visa, maybe I can anger these Jamericans a little more by pointing out that Golding's views are shared by a growing number of Americans and almost everyone outside of America who is capable of independent thought.
CONDEMNATION OF JAMAICA
In 1996, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the US Human Rights Network hosted a conference in Geneva, of people who have been victimised by the US government's failure to uphold civil and political rights. At that conference, Ann Beeson, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Programme, said, "... We call on the international community to condemn the US government for policies that violate the civil and political rights of all."
Later that year, the ACLU submitted a comprehensive report to the Human Rights Campaign condemning the US government for failing to comply with its treaty obligations to protect and preserve a range of human-rights protections at home and abroad. Drawing attention to some of the most vulnerable members of society, including women, children, minorities, immigrants and the accused, the ACLU offered detailed recommendations to bring the US in line with universally recognised human-rights standards.
Mr Golding had nothing to do with an opinion piece by George Monbiot, published in The Guardian (England) March 25, 2003. "One rule for them ... . Suddenly the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state, it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva Convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them". He was, of course quite right.
Article 13 of the Third Convention, concerning the treatment of prisoners, insists that they "must at all times be protected against insults and public curiosity". The conventions ratified by Iraq in 1956 are non-negotiable. If you break them, you should expect to be prosecuted for war crimes. This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural life".
Ninety miles away, the US has a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay which holds more than 600 prisoners. This breaches no fewer than 15 articles of the Third Convention.
In 1998, a United Nations rapporteur who was an expert on the death penalty and arbitrary killings by the police visited the US and eventually issued a critical report to the authorities. He was treated so badly, it led to an outcry by human-rights groups. China - with a population several times that of the US - Iran, Saudi Arabia and Congo are the only countries that execute more people than the US. The US is one of only six remaining countries to execute persons who were less than 18 years old when they committed their crime. This is in violation of several international and human rights instruments.
The US is the only industrial power that has not signed an agreement to reduce global warming.
The Church of Scientology is an extremist organisation masquerading as a religion. But it is welcomed in the US, and successive administrations would like it to be accepted in other countries. But "duppy know a who fi frighten" In France, President Chirac told Bill Clinton that religious freedom will no longer be a subject for bilateral presidential talks in light of what has been officially described as "shocking White House support for Scientologists and Moonies". And that was that.
German Government statement
Anticipating a similar approach from the US,
the Germans put out this statement ahead of the presidential visit,
"The German government considers the Scientology organisation a
commercial enterprise, with a history of taking advantage of vulnerable
individuals and an extreme dislike of any criticism. ... Several kinds
of evidence have influenced this view of Scientology, including the
organisation's activities in the US." Argument
Only two countries in the world have not
ratified the Children's-Rights Convention - Somalia - which has no
internationally recognised government, and the US.
really is not my intention to offend Mr Atkinson further, so I will just
leave him with a small part of a report out of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of another country we dare not offend:
" For many years, the US government
has, year after year, published reports on human-rights conditions in
other countries in disregard of the opposition of many countries of the
world, cooking up charges, twisting facts and censoring all countries
except itself. It also publishes a report every year to make a so-called
appraisal of anti-drug-trafficking campaigns of 24 countries, including
all Latin American countries. The US deals with all countries it deems
"inefficient in cracking down on drug trafficking" with condemnation,
sanctions, interference in the latter's internal affairs, or outright
In 2001, without support
from the majority of member countries, the US was voted out of the UN
Human Rights Commission and the International Narcotics Committee. This
shows, from one aspect, that it is extremely unpopular for the US to
push double standards and unilateralism on such issues as human rights,
crackdowns on drug trafficking, arms control, and environmental
We urge the United
States to change its ways, give up its hegemonic practice of creating
confrontation and interfering in the internal affairs of others by
exploiting the human-rights issue, go with the tide of the times
characterised by cooperation and dialogue in the area of human rights,
and do more useful things for the progress and development of the human
society." This is just a small part of a lengthy document, and
Bruce Golding had nothing to do with its
The US continues to exempt itself from its
international human-rights obligations, particularly where
international human-rights law grants protections and redress not
available under US law.
The painful truth is that
America's own human-rights abuses are serious and ongoing. It is
undermining its leadership role, and most worrying of all, it is setting
a bad precedent for the growing number of rogue states that seem to be
taking their cue from the United States.