UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights inquiry reports

NCSTN is giving a big shout-out to Prof. Deborah Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chapel Hill, and her former law students, who in October 2014 filed a petition on behalf of CIA rendition survivor Abou ElKassim Britel (also known as Kassim Britel) with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez.

We just learned that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released its communications with five governments on the case of Kassim Britel. This UN inquiry is the direct result of the work by Deborah and her students, which was covered by McClatchy DC in the article, UNC legal team, rights advocates take up cause of tortured ex-prisoner.

The case is important, both for Kassim and his family, and also because Kassim is one of many survivors of CIA-directed torture whose cases did not appear in the Senate Torture Report because they were never held at a CIA-run black site.

Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez used Prof. Weissman and students’ brief to write allegation letters regarding Kassim’s case to the governments of the United States, Pakistan, Morocco, Italy, and Portugal. He found the governments’ responses (or in the case of Morocco, non-response) completely inadequate.

Prof. Mendez said, “The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of the United States to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the incidents, to prosecute and punish those responsible and to provide Mr. Elkassim Britel with adequate redress.” He had similar messages for Pakistan, Morocco, Italy and Portugal.

These communications and findings will be presented next week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Prof. Mendez’s report is at UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Kassim Britel – 2015, with Italy at paragraph 280, Morocco at 354, Pakistan at 398, Portugal at 451 and the U.S. at 653. Here is the response from the United States.

Candidates Cooper and McCrory: Break Your Silence on Torture!

Join us Wednesday, March 9 at two vigils and a press conference in Raleigh, calling on the likely Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor to investigate NC’s torture taxi program, demand accountability, and provide redress to those harmed.

Sponsors:  Movement to End Racism & Islamophobia, NC Council of Churches, NC Stop Torture Now.
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John Kiriakou speaks to large crowds in North Carolina

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David Crabtree (right) conducts “newsmaker” interview with John Kiriakou at UNC’s Carroll Hall on Oct. 27, 2015. Photo © Jerry Markatos.

North Carolina was ready for the message about truth, fear, and torture that whistleblower John Kiriakou brought on his five-city tour.

Over 100 people attended a gathering with the former CIA officer at UNC’s Carroll Hall on October 27.  Mr. Kiriakou explained how he came to confirm the CIA’s use of illegal torture on detainees, and how the U.S. government retaliated against him.   The crowd was treated to a high-quality give-and-take between Mr. Kiriakou and award-winning WRAL journalist David Crabtree.  The event was sponsored by the UNC School of Law Human Rights Policy Lab, the  Center for Media Law & Policy, Center for Media Law and Policy; Peace, War, and Defense; Center for Global Initiatives; and NC Stop Torture Now.
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CIA whistleblower to visit North Carolina

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Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was prosecuted by the Obama administration under the first world war-era Espionage Act. Photograph by Cliff Owen/AP in the Guardian.

The only ex-CIA officer to suffer consequences for the U.S. torture program comes to North Carolina Oct. 27-29, 2015.

John Kiriakou is a former high-ranking CIA counter-terrorism officer and the first U.S. official to confirm the CIA was torturing its detainees by waterboarding them. As a whistleblower, Mr. Kiriakou served nearly two years in a Federal correctional facility.   Read more of Mr. Kiriakou’s story at his website or here.

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February 6, 2015:  Call-In to Sen. Richard Burr: Release the Full Torture Report Now!

Days after U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) took the helm as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee early this year, he moved to bury his committee’s 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program.

In his first major act as the nation’s top watchdog over the spy agency, Burr chose to protect the CIA by demanding that the White House return every copy of the full report shared with the executive branch by the previous Congress.

Tell Sen. Burr to stop hiding the truth from us.  The people of North Carolina and the U.S. want an Intelligence Chair who will serve the public interest, not one who covers up for spy agencies.

Continue reading February 6, 2015:  Call-In to Sen. Richard Burr: Release the Full Torture Report Now!

Senator Burr: More Concerned About President George W. Bush’s Legacy than National Security?

A letter from North Carolina Stop Torture Now coordinator Christina Cowger in the Jan. 23 edition of The Washington Post questions Senator Burr’s respect for his own constituents. Other national media reporting casts doubt on his fitness to lead the committee charged with overseeing the CIA.

Even commentators with the unabashedly conservative Fox News outlet are openly critical of attempts to bury the findings of the Senate torture report and argue that: “In a free society in which the government works for us, we have a right to know what it is doing in our names, and we have a reasonable expectation that the laws the government enforces against us it will enforce against itself. “

Continue reading Senator Burr: More Concerned About President George W. Bush’s Legacy than National Security?