2011-11-23 Omar Khadr Part 4 of 4: “Punitive post-conviction confinement”

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This article is in lieu of the long delayed fourth part of the Omar Khadr series written on WL Central last May. The original fourth part consisted of hours of interviews regarding the astoundingly corrupt and illegal military process which culminated in a verdict which allows the Canadian press to refer to Omar Khadr as a ‘convicted terrorist’. One day the information in those interviews will be widely known, but today we are still prevented from publishing any of it for fear of retribution to those we do not wish to harm.

Today, Omar should be at home in Canada, as promised by the Canadian government as a term of his acceptance of a plea deal. Today, he is still in Guantanamo Bay serving what the US military terms “punitive post-conviction confinement.”. A little known fact regarding the Guantanamo sentences is that time served before sentencing is not considered ‘punitive’ and therefore does not count as time served towards his sentence. Omar’s sentence is to be carried out in a solitary confinement ‘enhanced interrogation’ environment, and at the end of his sentence he can be placed back in ‘Prisoner Of War’ status in the Guantanamo cells he has spent his life in since he was 15 years old. Without repatriation to Canada, his eight year plea deal is just an eight year sentence to solitary confinement in the middle of a lifetime sentence in Guantanamo.

Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg writes, But Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are “serving punitive sentences,” says Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokeswoman. Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are “detained under the Law of War only as a security measure” and “should not be subjected to a penal environment or comingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction.” Once their sentences are over, under Pentagon doctrine, they become ordinary detainees again — put back with the others in a penitentiary away called Camp 6, the closest thing at Guantánamo today to POW-style barracks housing.

I spoke last summer to Omar’s former defense attorney Dennis Edney about his current condition. “Omar is doing his post sentencing time back in Camp 5 which as the Pentagon states is “designed for enhanced interrogation techniques”. He is back in solitary confinement where he has spent so much of his life. Prior to trial, we were able to have him removed to the cages where he was able to socialize with others which made him happy. He is not happy and has been subject to interrogations by the FBI.”

In this isolated and unsupported environment, “He is never allowed mail from other than family which rarely arrives.” As part of his ‘plea deal’ he is not allowed to have legal counsel present during his interrogations.

Thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s appeals, all levels of court in Canada have agreed, in 2008 and again in 2010, that the Canadian government has violated Omar’s rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interrogating him at the Guantanamo Bay facility in 2003 and 2004 and by sharing information from those interviews with U.S. authorities despite knowing that in 2004 U.S. authorities had subjected him to illegal interrogation methods, including sleep deprivation. It further found that his status as a minor, his detention without counsel, and his interrogators’ awareness that he had been subjected to sleep deprivation were“not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Omar was sentenced in October of last year. In a diplomatic exchange with the United States which formed part of Omar’s plea deal, the Canadian government wrote “The Government of Canada therefore wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence, or such portion of the remainder of his sentence as the National Parole Board determines” after his first year of post-trial incarceration.

Omar’s defense counsel filed the paperwork for his return in October. Now we are told:Corrections officials have received the request for transfer and now have to determine if Khadr is eligible to return to Canada to finish out his sentence. Once Canadian officials determine that, they send an official request to American officials. If U.S. officials agree, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has the final say. He has the option of refusing the transfer if he decides Khadr is a risk to public safety. The process is expected to take about 18 months. A spokesman for Toews said he doesn’t comment on individual cases.

In addition to this, the United States now must certify Canada as a fit place to send a convicted terrorist, a nation not likely to permit him to attack the United States, and one that has control of its prisons. That certification must be delivered to Congress signed by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta with “the concurrence of” U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton.

It is well documented in the US State cables released by Wikileaks that Canadian indifference and hostility have had everything to do with the torture and unlawful confinement of a child and the continuing suffering of the only western citizen left in Guantanamo Bay. “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.” reports one cable.

December 10 is World Human Rights Day, the day the world celebrates the 63rd birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written first by Canadian John Humphrey. If Canadians are ever again to hold their heads up on this day, we must remove this human rights blight from our actions by finally repatriating the man we have victimized since he was a child.

WL Central calls for immediate action to defend the rights of this Canadian citizen.

Previous WL Central coverage on Omar Khadr here.

Omar Khadr Part 1 of 4: “Omar Khadr is a lovely young man”
Omar Khadr Part 2 of 4: Canada, the entire world is still watching
Omar Khadr Part 3 of 4: “The world doesn’t get it”

 
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2011-11-06 Needed now: A News Commons

The privileged position held by the media in most democracies exists for one reason; in order to govern themselves, people need access to accurate and timely information on all topics relevant to their governance.

Once that information has been distributed, it is not sufficient for the citizens to passively absorb it as a means of entertainment, or even education. In order for self governance to occur, that information must be acted upon to correct flaws in governance.

We at WL Central have had a goal throughout this year of media scandal and indifference, where the most reputable mainstream outlets in the world have been shown to fall far short of the justly elevated position of media in a democracy. The WLC slogan is News, Analysis and Action, and the name was meant quite literally, as wiki … leaks … central. In other words, we wanted a place for a collaborative effort, but a very dynamic, Twitter speed effort, to handle all important information and news (the news we require in order to govern ourselves). We would then take that information, analyze it against what we already know, match that to relevant law etc., and create action to stop corruption. A combination of a new form of crowdsourced news platform and a new forum for citizen government.

Our dream is far bigger than our reality. A News Commons, owned and operated and answering to the people, serving a global audience, requires mass participation and a structure that would enable that. Our hope for the future is as follows:

News should have world updates in real time so someone could click on a topic and get a current world update on the important news, fact checked and sourced. Alternatively, news could be shown by region. What is needed is a source of heavily referenced and reviewed reliable news from reliable sources, strict guidelines, fact checking by others and editing for bias, no first person and no opinions. Editing and mentoring is required, administrators for different regions and topics.

Analysis needs an interactive method to tie everything together and crosslink stories and information. It should act as a resource to find all relevant information on people, corporations and news stories.

Action needs calendars, maps etc., always updated. We currently support action that supports Transparency, Democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We support no group which acts against these principles. We suggest this as a guideline in the future as well. Action is also a place to bring lawsuits, draft parliamentary bills, etc. It is our hope that readers, once informed by all of the information available, will act to initiate appropriate corrective action for any corruption found. The News Commons will include the relevant legal authorities, the news and the background material to aid in finding areas requiring corrective action, and we will provide a forum for protests, petitions, legal action and more, based on those findings.

Communication forums are necessary for all sections.

What is required:

To create this dream, an Internet Commons of news, would require a huge collaborative effort. We need coders and website designers, editors, fact checkers, people to delete spam and update calendars, photographers, designers, technicians, and much more. We also need many, many more writers and editors from all over the world. This time we also need donations as we don’t seem able to get all of this done in addition to our other activism and day jobs and there are not enough volunteers willing to work for free as we have for the last year. This project may have the new name, The People’s Intelligence peopleintel.com We would need a new logo for this name.

While website designers and coders are the most urgent need, new writers are welcome to contribute during transition by submitting their articles to admin@wlcentral.org as always. Volunteers to run sections on specific topics or for certain geographical regions are also welcome now. Please contact admin@wlcentral.org or come to the working pad here to discuss further.

2011-11-05 Defend our basic human rights on World Human Rights Day, Saturday, December 10, 2011

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Photo credit Fatima.

The world has seen a year of global struggle for real democracy, transparency and individual human rights. Essential to this struggle is respect for human life and living conditions, including environments. These are basic rights which have been denied by a global mafia with the power to control the legal and government systems.

Innocent and untried individuals are tortured and killed by autonomous machines in the name of the greater good. Families are deprived of their food, shelter and basic medical needs. In every country, people are being unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs and for attempting to defend the rights we were promised. Many others are unjustly imprisoned as a result of the corruption of our legal system, which acts, not to defend society but to defend the interests of the powerful. Once imprisoned, these people are subjected to treatment such as torture, slavery and medical experimentation. No one is safe now from the spectre of unjust imprisonment and far too many of our brightest leaders and most important speakers have been silenced this way. We need to stand in solidarity with them and demand their release before we join them.

On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. They called for all signing nations to strive by teaching and education to promote wide knowledge of and respect for these rights and freedoms. The original assembly agreed that a common understanding of these rights and freedoms was of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, and to ensure that the atrocities experienced in the Second World War would never recur.

Although the UDHR now forms the basis of many of our constitutions and much international law, the principles have been largely lost and laws have been created in direct opposition to these fundamental principles. Now 63 years later, we call on all people to promote wide knowledge of the rights we were promised and to demand adherence to these principles by all of our governing bodies. As human rights were the basic principle behind everything we have demanded so far in this historic year, there is no better culmination for 2011 than a global day of action to defend our basic human rights. We also demand the release of those unjustly imprisoned around the world and the repeal of any laws passed in violation of these basic principles.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the culmination of two years of general assembly meetings in response to a worldwide humanitarian crises 63 years ago. We continue where they left off.

We demand what the people agreed to:

THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

 

2011-11-05 The Global Square: an online platform for our movement

Submitted by FuturePress on Sat, 11/05/2011 – 22:57

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A proposal on how to perpetuate the creative and cooperative spirit of the occupations and transform them into lasting forms of social organization.

This is a proposal made by a group of concerned global citizens who also act as volunteers for Take the Square, United for Global Change, 15october.net, European Revolution, WL Central and Reflections on a Revolution (ROAR). We do not pretend to represent or speak on behalf of anyone but ourselves.

The Global Square: Towards an Online Platform for the Occupy Movement

In its most recent tactical briefing for the Occupy movement, Adbusters correctly pointed out that, “of the many questions swirling around #OCCUPY, the most challenging is how to gel into a global movement without sacrificing the decentralized, leaderless model.” In the wake of the global day of action on October 15, the question now arises how our movement can evolve new organizational structures that will allow the assemblies — and their highly innovative participatory model of decision-making — to survive beyond the occupations and become a permanent fixture of our emerging global society.

How, in other words, can we perpetuate the creative and cooperative spirit of the occupations and transform them into lasting forms of social organization — at the global as well as the local level?

Currently, the organization of the occupations and the collaboration between them rests in part upon the innovative use of social media. However, as a group of volunteers who were directly involved in the coordination of the worldwide protests of October 15, we have found the existing social media to be increasingly restrictive in their functionality. While Facebook and Twitter have been very helpful for disseminating basic information and aiding mass mobilization, they do not provide us with the tools for extending our participatory model of decision-making beyond the direct reach of the assemblies and up to the global level.

What we need, at this point, is a platform that allows us to radically democratize our global organizational efforts. In addition to the local squares, we now need a global square where people of all nations can come together as equals to participate in the coordination of collective actions and the formulation of common goals and aspirations. For this reason, we call upon the revolutionary wizkids of the world to unite and assist in the development of a new online platform – The Global Square – that combines the communicative functions of the existing social networks with the political functions of the assemblies to provide crucial new tools for the development of our global movement.

The aim of the platform, in this respect, should not be to replace the physical assemblies but rather to empower them by providing the online tools for (trans)national organization and collaboration. The ideal would be both to foster individual participation and to structure collective action. The Global Square could be our own virtual Zuccotti Park, serving as a public space where different groups can come together to organize their local assemblies — and where different assemblies can join hands to coordinate their collective projects. In a way, The Global Square could be a groundbreaking experiment in building a global participatory decision-making system from the grassroots up.

To be more precise, the specific tools provided by this online platform could include the following (note that this list is far from exhaustive and will grow organically to include many other functionalities):

An interactive map that lists all ongoing assemblies around the world;
A search option allowing users to find squares, events, working-groups, etc.;
An aggregated news feed that lists the most relevant ‘status updates’ shared by the various assemblies (à la Facebook);
Individual ‘pages’ for each local square/assembly where participants can organize collectively, including the following functionalities:
– A calendar with upcoming events/actions;
– A forum for public debate, with the ability to open different threads;
– A list of all relevant documents/minutes uploaded by the assembly;
– The ability to create and edit new documents collaboratively;
– The ability to vote on specific decisions;
– The ability to submit new proposals.
A public and private messaging system that allows all individual users and assemblies to communicate and exchange information, reinforcing solidarity and mutual collaboration;
The ability to ‘scale-up’ local decisions, actions, and initiatives to the global level through a ‘sharing’ system that allows local assemblies to pose ideas, votes, and proposals to other assemblies in a horizontal, non-hierarchical fashion (i.e., straight from the local to the global level).

Furthermore, The Global Square should be 100% multilingual and open-source, so a community of developers can continue to add languages as well as functions.

Facebook and the other social networks have until now only offered the possibility to share and promote content. The Global Square, by contrast, should encourage the active participation of citizens, the consolidation of online working groups, the collaborative scheduling of events, the establishment of consensus, the process of participatory budgeting, and the exchange of needs, proposals and ideas – in a local and a global context – between individuals and assemblies. Furthermore, to promote the widespread uptake of the platform, the creation of a minimalist, user-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing design is of the utmost importance.

We are aware of the existence of social platforms like n-1.cc, used by the Spanish movement, yet we feel that these have a number of shortcomings. They are not very user-friendly and not universally accessible for citizens from different national backgrounds. Also, resulting from a lack of funds and time, these platforms have not been able to develop the level of complexity required to provide all the functionalities listed above. We realize that the project we are proposing is a very ambitious one. But we hope that our movement can seize this opportunity to prove once and for all that creativity, innovation and dynamism can flourish in a collaborative, non-profit framework — and that it is possible to ensure a form of participatory democracy beyond the nation state.

We believe The Global Square could make a significant contribution to the consolidation of the assemblies and the development of our global movement. It is important to note, however, that the project will require significant funding, as well as a team of full-time professional developers. As we know that Occupy Wall Street plays an exemplary role within the movement, we are turning specifically to you for help in further refining this idea and initiating the search for funds and developers for a beta-version of the platform. We would be very interested to hear your ideas, suggestions and criticisms of this proposal. We can be reached atinfo@theglobalsquare.org.

Finally, we have registered a domain (theglobalsquare.org — not active yet) that we would happily share with the movement (other suggestions are, of course, very welcome too). We are looking forward to a public conversation with all of you on how to make this idea work in a way that involves and benefits all. From the local village square to the global village square — it is time for us to unite!

In solidarity,

The volunteers at:

Take the Square
WLCentral.org
United for Global Change
15october.net
European Revolution
Reflections on a Revolution