Afghanistan: Is Peace Possible Without Justice?

By: Belquis Ahmadi

When Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to Kabul on May 9 after two decades in hiding, the former warlord received a hero’s welcome by authorities who had struck the peace deal that ushered him back. His convoy was escorted by helicopters and armed police. His supporters gleefully marched through the streets of the Afghan capital and drove pickup trucks showing off their machine guns and grenade launchers. In the presidential palace, a red carpet was rolled out for Hekmatyar, along with other former mujahedeen leaders accused of war crimes.

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Longtime Afghan faction leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks in one of his first public appearances after nearly 20 years in hiding as he returned to Kabul in recent weeks following a peace deal with the government. (Tolo TV screenshot)
But the warm embrace by government officials does not necessarily extend to the people of Kabul. Many remember the havoc, bloodshed and devastation Hekmatyar inflicted on the city during the inter-factional fight for control of Kabul among militant groups in the 1990s.

Hekmatyar has factional supporters, and indeed many other mujahedeen warlords have much blood on their hands and have avoided any accountability. But to many Afghans, Hekmatyar remains a particularly notorious warlord who assassinated hundreds if not thousands of intellectuals in Afghanistan and Pakistan during that time. His militia, Hezb-e-Islami, which is being normalized today as a political party, was responsible for such atrocities as throwing acid at educated Afghan refugee women and raining rockets down on Kabul, killing thousands of people and internally displacing many more.

Kabul residents remember Hekmatyar’s group blocking the supply road to the capital city, forcing women and young children to walk for miles just to buy a sack of flour or cooking oil. Many men who tried to make the journey on foot through Hezb-e-Islami’s stronghold in the Char-Asyab district, approximately eight miles south of Kabul, never made it back alive.

But now the Afhgan government’s peace deal with Hekmatyar, in which he renounced violence and pledged to abide by the country’s constitution, is being hailed as a historic achievement by local authorities and foreign diplomats. As recently as 2003, the U.S. State Department listed him as a terrorist, accusing Hekmatyar of participating in and supporting attacks by al-Qaida and the Taliban.

To reach the deal, Hekmatyar’s name was taken off the United Nations terrorist list. He and his men are getting free accommodation and security in Kabul. But instead of expressing remorse for his crimes against civilians, or asking forgiveness, Hekmatyar is urging people to forget the past.

Is that even possible? Would an effort by Afghans to simply erase Hekmatyar’s war crimes from their memories bring the necessary closure to allow the fragile country to develop long-term democratic institutions?

Hardly. Unless past crimes are addressed in a fair manner in accordance with Afghanistan’s laws and the country’s obligations under international treaties, the future cannot be stable and the violence will spill into future generations. Research by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission as well as international human rights bodies has uncovered ample evidence of atrocities on all sides of the conflict that victims want addressed.

That’s why an Afghan citizens’ group recently sent a petition  to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) requesting justice for the victims of crimes allegedly committed by Hekmatyar and his group.

In response, the head of UNAMA said, “Afghan citizens and others who have been victims of atrocities must not be deprived of their right to judicial redress.”

Any attempt by the Afghan government or the international community to strike a peace deal with those responsible for war crimes must ensure accountability and justice.

Put simply, there is no peace without justice.

Source : USIP

Nationwide Protests Erupt Against Trump

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Protesters across the nation hit the streets Wednesday night to protest Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Thousands gathered in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Portland, chanting slogans like, “No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!”

In New York, thousands marched to Trump Tower, where demonstrators burned a flag. Police later said at least 15 demonstrators had been arrested. The protest was mostly peaceful, but traffic was crippled and many roads closed. In Chicago, thousands gathered outside the Trump International Hotel. Demonstrators even gathered outside the U.S. embassy in London, holding up placards that read, “No to racism! No to Trump!” In U.S. cities, many protesters said they were anticipating racist policies and a spike in white nationalism after Trump’s shocking win. Protests have not been limited to city streets, however, with numerous high schools and colleges in California seeing student protests. Hundreds of students in Los Angeles staged a walkout Wednesday morning, chanting in Spanish, “The people united will never be defeated.” The nationwide demonstrations are set to continue, with more rallies planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland. There were no immediate reports of injuries or violence in Wednesday night’s protests, but police have been forced to intervene in some cities to prevent protesters from blocking off roads. Trump’s campaign has not yet commented on the unrest.

Source : Daily Beast

Trump’s victory has enormous consequences for the Supreme Court

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The political earthquake that hit Tuesday night has enormous consequences for the Supreme Court, swallowing up Judge Merrick Garland’s ill-fated nomination and dismantling Democratic hopes for a liberal majority on the high court for the first time in nearly a half-century.

In the short term, Republican Donald Trump’s victory means that at some point next year, the nine-member court will be restored to full capacity, once again with a majority of Republican-appointed justices.

Democratic attempts to filibuster Trump’s choice would likely lead Republicans to end that option for Supreme Court justices, just as Democrats did for other judicial nominations when their party controlled the Senate.

Trump’s upset victory likely changes the court’s docket as well: Court challenges to President Obama’s regulations regarding the Affordable Care Act and immigration, which have preoccupied the justices in recent terms, will likely disappear under a President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress.

The long-term question will be Trump’s ultimate impact on the court’s membership, and whether he gets the chance to do more than choose the successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Two of the court’s liberals, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, are 83 and 78, respectively. Moderate conservative Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is 80.

As long as those three stay, the court’s rulings on sensitive social issues — protecting abortion rights, affirmative action and gay rights, for instance — are secure.

“A lot of the big things are actually ones on which the court already has a so-called liberal majority,” Neal K. Katyal, the acting solicitor general under President Obama, said before the court’s term began last month.

Tuesday’s election assures that Kennedy will remain the court’s pivotal justice, for now. Trump has said he will draw his Supreme Court nominee from a list of 20 judges and one senator: Mike Lee of Utah. All appear to be more conservative than Kennedy, the court’s longest-serving justice.

Kennedy is the member of the current court most likely to be in the majority when the court splits 5 to 4 in its most controversial decisions. Most of the time, he sides with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s other remaining conservatives: Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

But on some social issues, Kennedy sides with the liberals: Ginsburg, Breyer and Obama’s two choices for the court, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

He joined them and wrote the majority opinion finding that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry; in fact, Kennedy has written all of the court’s cases protecting gay rights.

Last term, he wrote the decision approving the limited use of race in college admission decisions, and voted to strike down a Texas law that the court said imposed unnecessary burdens on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

But three of the five justices supporting those issues are the oldest on the court. Abortion rights advocates immediately sounded an alarm.

“President-elect Trump has publicly pledged to overturn Roe and promised punishment for the one in three American women who will have an abortion in her lifetime,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She was referring to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision assuring a woman’s right to an abortion

Garland, a moderate liberal who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, would likely have replaced Kennedy as the justice in the middle. Obama nominated him last March in part because Republicans in the past have said he was the most likely Democratic nominee to win confirmation.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared on the night of Scalia’s death that Republicans would not act on any Obama nominee. The move brought charges that McConnell had politicized the process, but the gambit worked: It will now be a Republican president making the lifetime appointment to replace Scalia.

Trump has said his nominee will come from the list compiled with the help of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the legal group, the Federalist Society. His nominee will be like Scalia in seeking to overturn Roe and be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Trump has said.

All eyes will now be on the court’s oldest members, Kennedy and Ginsburg. Replacing Kennedy with a more stalwart conservative would immediately impact the court’s dynamics. He has given no indication about how long he intends to serve on the court.

Ginsburg has said she will serve as long as she is up to the job. She would likely be loath to allow Trump to pick her successor; she caused an uproar this summer when in media interviews she called him a “faker” and said she feared for the court and the country if he were elected.

Ginsburg turned aside calls from some liberals that she retire years ago, so that Obama could name her replacement. She said it was unclear whether the Senate would confirm her successor. And she told The Washington Post that there was no rush: She felt it was likely that another Democrat would be elected after Obama.

Source : Washington Post

Azerbaijan: Khadija Ismayilova released on probation, but full acquittal must follow

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes the news that Khadija Ismayilova, a leading Azerbaijani investigative journalist, has been released on probation from prison today after a year and half behind bars. We continue to call for a full acquittal and for all restrictions placed on her to be lifted.

The Azerbaijani Supreme Court today commuted Ismayilova’s sentence from 7.5 years imprisonment to a 3.5 year suspended term. This permits her release but without clearing her conviction, which means she will still be subject to unwarranted restrictions based on unfounded charges.

“We are delighted to hear today of Khadija’s release, after a year and half spent unjustly behind bars. However, probation is not enough. She should be fully acquitted and the Azerbaijani authorities must refrain from continuing their long-standing practice of persecuting critical voices,” said Susan Coughtrie, ARTICLE 19’s Senior Programme Officer for Europe and Central Asia.

“Khadija’s numerous investigations uncovered corruption at the highest echelons of the Azerbaijani regime and provided a damning testimony of widespread human rights abuses – undoubtedly making her a target for persecution. During her time in prison Khadija Ismayilova has become a symbol to many around the world inspired by her courage and bravery in relentlessly speaking truth to power – despite her great personal sacrifice,” Coughtrie added.

In recent years, numerous efforts have been made to silence Ismayilova – from blackmail to public shaming and accusations of espionage, and finally, her imprisonment. In September 2015, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced the journalist to 7.5 years in prison on charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of office. She had spent 10 months pre-trial detention after being arrested in December 2014 originally on the charge of inciting someone to attempt suicide, of which she was acquitted.

On World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2016, Ismayilova was awarded the prestigious UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize recognising her outstanding contribution to press freedom particularly in the face of dangerous circumstances. Ismayilova has previously won a number of awards as a result of her investigative work, including the Global Shining Light Award, the German ZEIT Foundation Award, the International Women’s Media Federation’s Courage Award, and the PEN America Press Freedom Award.

ARTICLE 19, as part of the Sport for Rights campaign, is holding a rally on 27 May 2016 – Khadija’s 40th birthday – outside the Azerbaijani Embassy in London to celebrate Ismayilova’s release, call for her full acquittal as well as the release of other political prisoners – including journalists and human rights defenders still behind bars.

Source : Article 19

UCLA Murderer Mainak Sarkar Killed His Ex-Wife Before His Former Professor

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Before gunning down Ph.D. adviser William Klug on campus, police say Mainak Sarkar shot a woman inside her Minneapolis-area home.

LOS ANGELES — Mainak Sarkar murdered his ex-wife Ashley Hasti in Minnesota before killing his former professor, then himself, at the University of California, Los Angeles on Wednesday.

WCCO-TV reports Sarkar and Hasti were married in 2011. Hasti’s body was discovered at her home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota after a note from Sarkar was discovered asking someone to “check on my cat.” When police searched Sarkar’s home in Minnesota, they discovered a “kill list,” which led them to Hasti’s home where she had been dead for “maybe a couple of days,” according to the local police chief.

Another name on the list was UCLA engineering professor William S. Klug, who Sarkar shot and killed before turning the gun on himself. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that a second professor’s name was on Sarkar’s list and that the doctoral student likely sought to kill him but couldn’t find him. Authorities have not named the professor.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sarkar called Klug a “very sick person” in a since-deleted blog post, writing that he could not be trusted. Klug had been Sarkar’s adviser at the UCLA engineering school and he “expressed gratitude to Klug for his help and support” in a 2013 doctoral dissertation, the newspaper reports.

Before gunning down Ph.D. adviser William Klug on campus, police say Mainak Sarkar shot a woman inside her Minneapolis-area home.

LOS ANGELES — Mainak Sarkar murdered his ex-wife Ashley Hasti in Minnesota before killing his former professor, then himself, at the University of California, Los Angeles on Wednesday.

WCCO-TV reports Sarkar and Hasti were married in 2011. Hasti’s body was discovered at her home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota after a note from Sarkar was discovered asking someone to “check on my cat.” When police searched Sarkar’s home in Minnesota, they discovered a “kill list,” which led them to Hasti’s home where she had been dead for “maybe a couple of days,” according to the local police chief.

Another name on the list was UCLA engineering professor William S. Klug, who Sarkar shot and killed before turning the gun on himself. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that a second professor’s name was on Sarkar’s list and that the doctoral student likely sought to kill him but couldn’t find him. Authorities have not named the professor.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sarkar called Klug a “very sick person” in a since-deleted blog post, writing that he could not be trusted. Klug had been Sarkar’s adviser at the UCLA engineering school and he “expressed gratitude to Klug for his help and support” in a 2013 doctoral dissertation, the newspaper reports.

Source : Daily Beast

 

OLAPADE AGORO’S REACTION TO SPONSORED HATE AND FALSEHOOD PUBLICATION IN THE NATION ,THISDAY NEWSPAPERS ETAL CONCERNING MY GOOD NAME

My attention has just been drawn to false, libelous, mischievous and highly offensive publications in some of those I have always considered respectable Nigeria Newspapers particularly “ THE NATION” and “THIS DAY” newspapers, concerning my good name and enviable reputations made on behalf of a non physically existing  and having no record of ever doing anything good to humanity and the Almighty God,  maggots who self styled “Erinmo Progressive Union”.
It is pertinent that so sooner the process of SUIT NO: HIL/m.16/2016 AGORO VS ODUNAYO ANRS was served on  Mr. Odunayo Ajayi deliriously self styling himself  Elerinmo of Erinmo Ijesa ANRS that rather than he Odunayo Ajayi filling his Defence to the Claim went on the rampage sponsoring false,  mischievous, disparaging  and highly libelous publication concerning my good name.
The most unfortunate part of the scenario was those sponsored journalists published their false stories concerning me without first cross checking their facts with me and WITHOUT COLLECTING SUPPORTIVE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCES to the story they published .
Unfortunately this is the sad level of shame to which societal corruption evils have impacted wrongly on the Nigerian Press once upon a time the pride of Nigerian professionalism and global sphere news organ.
Since the matter contained largely in the odium published in the aforementioned Nigerian newspapers and as well made viral in the web  by the Devil’s agents of darkness is subjugated to SUIT NO: HIL/m.16/2016 AGORO VS ODUNAYO ANRS already before a Court of justice one is restrained commenting further one has himself totally constrained from further commenting on the issues raised in the  offensive publication of the so called and self styled “Erinmo Progressive Union”’.
However for Press knowledge base expansion,purposes on the matter the following attached herewith documents should be allowed to speak volumes for themselves.
Dr. Olapade Agoro (Aladura Patriarch)                                                                                      Owa’Tapa of Itapa Ijesa land
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Chinese Man Sentenced to Death for Leaking State Secrets

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BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese man has been sentenced to death for leaking more than 150,000 classified documents to an unidentified foreign power, state television said on Tuesday, offering unusual details of a kind of case rarely mentioned in public.

The man, a computer technician from Sichuan named as Huang Yu, worked for a government department which handled state secrets, but he was a bad employee and was sacked, the report said.

Filled with anger, he messaged a “foreign spy organization” on the internet and offered to sell documents he had obtained while working for his former employer, who gladly took him up on his offer and so began their relationship, it added.

Meeting in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Huang eventually handed over 150,000 documents, covering secrets ranging from everything from the ruling Communist Party to military and financial issues, the report said.

But as he was no longer employed, he began to run out of documents to provide, and so targeted his wife and brother-in-law who also worked for government departments handling state secrets, state television said.

In the end, his frequent travel and sudden unexplained wealth caught up with him and in 2011 he was arrested, and then sentenced to death, it added.

The report did not say when or if the execution had happened, or where he was tried.

China’s state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders. Information can also be labeled a state secret retroactively.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping revamp of the security apparatus, aimed at combating threats both at home and abroad.

But new security laws he has passed, or wants to pass, have alarmed Western governments, including the counter terrorism law and a draft cyber security law, amidst a renewed crackdown on dissent.

The cyber security and counterterrorism laws codify sweeping powers for the government to combat perceived threats, from widespread censorship to heightened control over certain technologies.

Critics of the counterterrorism legislation, for one, say it could be interpreted in such a way that even non-violent dissidents could fall within its definition of terrorism.

China has consistently rejected any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source : EIN News

Colombia: Journalist seeks justice

Tomorrow, journalist, Claudia Duque, will testify in proceedings brought against former agents of the Colombian security services who stand accused of using psychological torture.

On 1 March, in open-court proceedings, the public will hear journalist Claudia Duque testify how, over the past 12 years, she has been subjected to threats, psychological torture, and even abduction at the hands of former agents of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) – the now defunct Colombian security service. The hearing will continue until 3 March 2016.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for more than 12 years: to tell my story before a judge in a public hearing, to say exactly what it has meant to me, to my family, to Colombian journalism and to the defence of human rights in this country to have torture inflicted on me by the DAS and to be silenced,” said Duque in an open letter.

Tomorrow’s depositions are part of proceedings being brought against eight former DAS members, three of whom are already imprisoned, and five remain free. The former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and the former DAS director Jorge Noguera are also suspected of involvement in the crimes, but investigations into this have been halted.

Duque has suffered persecution for many years, which began as a result of her investigation into the murder of comedian Jaime Garzón in 1999. She believes that DAS agents were involved in the case.

Out of fear of reprisal, Duque has sought to mobilise media and human rights organisations worldwide to draw attention to her case, and to demand expedited investigations and a neutral judicial process. She has also asked supporters to attend the hearing to support her, given the possibility she may be accused of intentionally victimising herself, as she has been accused before.

ARTICLE 19 has followed the case of Claudia Duque and urges the Colombian state to ensure Duque’s safety so that she can testify freely. ARTICLE 19 calls on Colombia to bring to justice all those who are responsible for attacks against journalists and human rights defenders.

Source : Article 19

There Would Be No Secession Threats, If there Is Justice And Fairness In Nigeria.-Eze Dr Anozie

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As the protests by the Indigenous People of Biafra continues to disrupt all aspects of life in Onitsha, in Anambra state, the Eze Ndigbo of Ibadan and Oyo state, Eze Dr. Alex Anozie, in this interview with Federationews2day, insists that no tribe in Nigeria will think of secession, once there is equity, justice and fairness. Excerpts :

How would you react to the agitation of self determination, by the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra ?

Let me make this categorical statement, that I as the head of Igbos, the leader of Igbos, the Eze Ndigbo, in Oyo state, I have never, I know the position I am holding today, in Igbo leadership ladder, I have never been invited, neither have I participated in any meeting called any where by Igbo leaders, towards thinking or planning for the re emergence of Biafra or something like that. And I believe that such venture is not such that can take place without all stakeholders, Igbo leaders, been involved, both those at home, in the South East and those in diaspora. Don’t forget that sometimes, you will be tempted to think or to believe that the number of Igbos in diaspora are more than those in the South East. So, I have never been in such a meeting and I do not think such venture can just come up and people, will begin to say, they want to secede again, with the experience we have had in the last civil war. Before such a decision is taken we have to be involved, but right now, we are not involved, I am not involved, so this people that are agitating, they know where they took the decision. But I want to make it very clear that, there is no doubt that, there is marginalization going on against the Igbos in Nigeria, when you take a clear look at things in Nigeria. That notwithstanding, I sincerely believe that if Nigerians are created equally, the Yoruba man is happy, the Igbo man is happy, the Hausa man is happy, the South South man is happy, nobody wants to get away from Nigeria. That is what I am thinking, nobody wants to get away from Nigeria. Nigeria is a beautiful country, with our beautiful culture, with our beautiful people, Nigerians are good people, very kind and God fearing, forget about all these terrorism, here and there. And all these ills of the society that is growing rapidly, may be all these are the consequences of marginalization, we are talking about. So, if things are properly done, there is justice, fairness, for all and sundry, for every ethnic group, in Nigeria, nobody wants to break away from Nigeria. And we have to remember again, when you take a look at the Federal positions, the Igbos are now marginalized again. But I remember that sometimes in the past, not quite long ago, we had so many Igbos in the cabinet of Goodluck Jonathan. That is just nothing but the truth, we had so many of them there. So, you will now see that life rotates. So this time around we may not be expecting to have as many as we had during Jonathan’s tenure.
So, I am appealing to the Federal Government to put their eyes on Igbos, South East’s welfare. Taking into consideration the fact that, this was a war devastated area, sometime in the history of Nigeria. They should give priority to the South East, because even today, the effect of the war is still there, whether we like it or not, that is the truth. So the Federal Government should give the South East priority in whatever they are planning, infrastructure wise. Let them begin to do things that would make the Igbos forget that they fought a war. That is the best they can do. Nobody wants to leave Nigeria, if things are well done. If we use our conscience and put it into good use, nobody, wants to leave the country. The size of the country, Nigeria is one of the things, that put the country in the map of the World. It is one of the things that make the country, the leading nation in Africa. But when we break up, definitely that glamour will fizzle out. But, like I said let there be justice for all and sundry, all Nigerians, all ethnic groups. We have lived for so long together, we are interwoven, we are interwoven in marriage and other aspects, Igbos are now married to Hausas, Hausas are married to Igbos, , Igbos are married to Yorubas, Yorubas are married to Hausas. We now have grandchildren here and there. So, when we begin to fight and kill each other, we are killing our relations, we are killing our in-laws, we are destroying our blood. We must be very careful, whenever we think, we must remember all these.

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Less Than 75 Pounds and Never Charged with a Crime, Tariq Ba Odah May Die at Guantanamo

 

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The US Department of Justice filed its opposition today to Guantanamo detainee Tariq Ba Odah’s habeas petition and bid for release after being held for more than 13 years without charge. In response, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:

“Tariq Ba Odah may die at Guantanamo without ever having been charged with a crime. If that happens, it will be because the White House was unwilling to step up and make good on President Obama’s pledges to close Guantanamo. This case is a bellwether for what’s to come and a blow to President Obama’s legacy.

“Ba Odah’s reported medical condition is deeply concerning. Eight years into a hunger strike and while reportedly being force-fed, he reportedly weighs less than 75 pounds. Doctors say his weight indicates a life-threatening condition.

“The Pentagon reportedly fears that if Ba Odah is released, other detainees will go on hunger strike. That’s an outrageous reason for depriving anyone of their liberty and it has no basis in international law. The administration must charge Ba Odah or release him.”

“President Obama has long said that his hands are tied by Congress on Guantanamo. But Ba Odah’s release was in his power to ensure. President Obama has effectively decided to continue detaining a desperately ill man that the government has never publicly indicated any intention of charging with a crime.”

Source : Amnesty International