UN Representative Tours US, Re-Writes US Law

Alston is a professor at New York University, and is a “special rapporteur” to the United Nations Human Rights Council. In case you’re wondering who pays for his trips, it’s the UN. In other words: you.

[Philip Alston, Axis of Logic]

I spent two weeks (June 16-30) visiting the United States at the invitation of the Government and met with federal and state officials, judges, civil society groups, and victims and witnesses in Washington DC, New York City, Montgomery (Alabama), and Austin (Texas).

A taste:

Due process in death penalty cases should be improved

Reforms to the system of partisan elections for judges should be considered in order to ensure that capital case defendants receive a fair trial and appeals process.

Alabama and Texas should establish well-funded, state-wide public defender services. Oversight of these should be independent of the executive and judicial branches.

International military operations and “war on terror” issues

Current proceedings against Guantánamo Bay detainees under the Military Commissions Act should be discontinued. All trials should respect due process standards under international human rights and humanitarian law.

The concept of “command responsibility” as a basis for criminal liability should be codified in both the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the War Crimes Act.

Consideration should be given to establishing a Director of Military Prosecutions rather than leaving commanding officers to decide whether to prosecute their own troops.

The level of funding for programs to provide compensation to the families of those killed in US military operations should be increased. 

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