JFP 3/30: US Media Blows Coverage of Iraqi Election

Just Foreign Policy News
March 30, 2010

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What do Iraqi Election Results Mean for Country's Future?
Just Foreign Policy talks with Sonali Kolhatkar of KPFK's "Uprising," explaining that "pro-US candidate" Iyad Allawi did not "win" the Iraqi election, contrary to the credulous reports of US news media, who apparently don't understand how parliamentary elections work.
http://uprisingradio.org/home/?p=12893

Here's the math:
325-member Iraqi parliament; 163 seats are a majority.
The Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi got 91 seats, 28%; al-Maliki's State of Law coalition got 89 seats, 27.4%
The "Shiite fundamentalist" Iraqi National Alliance got 70 seats, 22%; the largest bloc within the Iraqi National Alliance is the Sadrists, 38 seats.
It's about a thousand times more likely that the Iraqi National Alliance will ally with the Maliki forces than that they will ally with the Allawi forces.
89 + 70 = 159, or 49.4%, four short of a majority.
Who is likely to form the next government? [Thanks to Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog for providing the numbers: http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/chalabi-moves-to-disqualify-6-elected.html]

New page: Highlights of the Afghanistan Debate
With video, we summarize the case made by Members of Congress for a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Rep. Alan Grayson: "You can't even call it a war, it's a foreign occupation."
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/video/housedebate

You Should Go to Iran
Do you read the Just Foreign Policy News? Are you dismayed that the Obama Administration has apparently reverted to Bush's policy towards Iran? Then you are uniquely qualified to join Global Exchange's June 26 delegation to Iran. Show your community by example that Iran is a real country with people, trees, and museums, more Pandora than Mordor. Ask nearby churches to chip in for the cost. Tell them that, like the President of Brazil, you are going to prevent a war.  
http://www.globalexchange.org/tours/1066.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) According to Afghan associates, President Karzai recently told guests he believes the Americans are in Afghanistan because they want to dominate his country and the region, and that they pose an obstacle to striking a peace deal with the Taliban, the New York Times reports. Some prominent Afghans say Karzai now tells associates that the Americans' goal here is not to build an independent and peaceful Afghanistan, but to exercise their power. In January, Karzai told guests that, left alone, he could strike a deal with the Taliban, but the US refuses to allow him. The US goal, he said, was to keep the Afghan conflict going, and thereby allow US troops to stay in the country.

2) The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the BBC reports. A senior US official told Qatar's foreign minister the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote, according to a diplomat. The US usually blocks Security Council resolutions criticising Israel.

3) An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," the Washington Post reports. This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently. The most dramatic change is an effort to build up Haiti's fragile government, instead of working around it. U.S. aid would be part of a vast international effort to rebuild parts of the Haitian state. Canada and France would help reconstruct the school system. The U.S. plan focuses on health; agriculture; governance and security; and infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on energy.

4) NATO forces in June will make a long-planned assault on the Taliban's spiritual home in Kandahar, AP reports. U.S. officials have previously disclosed plans for a NATO-led offensive, but have not said when it might happen.

Haiti
5) Dr. Paul Farmer says NGOs in Haiti should refocus on core missions, such as feeding the hungry, bringing clean water to the thirsty and burying the dead, the Miami New Times reports. The biggest mission in Haiti needs to be creating long-term jobs for Haitians, Farmer says.

6) The aid industry is destroying jobs in Haiti, writes MP Nunan in the Huffington Post. According to the Peace Dividend Trust, as little as 5 percent of aid money spent during a humanitarian crisis is spent in the local economy. USAID is donating 500 tons of cooking oil to Haiti in April, which could decimate demand for locally produced cooking oil.

Iraq
7) Officials on the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the U.S. government is probably paying contractors millions of dollars for unnecessary work in Iraq because the military is not giving companies enough guidance about reducing their employees, the Washington Post reports. Auditors for the Defense Department said last year KBR could save $193 million from January to August this year by reducing its workforce. But in a new report, auditors said KBR's plans for a drawdown during the same time period would save only $27 million. KBR officials said they need "written contractual direction" from the U.S. military about its plans to reduce troops so that it can staff accordingly.

Honduras
8) Reporters Without Borders called on Honduran authorities to crack down on violence against reporters, five of whom have been killed thus far in 2010, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports. RSF said the Honduran press continues to be a primary target in the "context of post-coup repression."

9) The head of UNESCO denounced the killing of TV and radio journalist Nahúm Palacios in Honduras, the Tico Times reports. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reportedly had urged the Honduran government in July 2009 to provide protection for Palacios. But local media reported that this protection never arrived.

India
10) India and the US announced the successful conclusion of negotiations granting rights to India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the Washington Post reports. India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Afghanistan

11) Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused in custody, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country's juvenile justice system, Gareth Porter reports for Inter Press Service. The study, carried out for the international children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes, reveals a justice system that subjects juveniles, many of whom are already innocent victims, to torture, forced confessions and blatant violation of their rights in court.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Afghan Leader Is Seen to Flout Influence of U.S.
Dexter Filkins and Mark Landler, New York Times, March 29, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/world/asia/30karzai.html

Kabul, Afghanistan - This month, with President Hamid Karzai looking ahead to a visit to the White House, he received a terse note from aides to President Obama: Your invitation has been revoked. The reason, according to American officials, was Mr. Karzai's announcement that he was emasculating an independent panel that had discovered widespread fraud in Mr. Karzai's re-election last year.

Incensed, Mr. Karzai extended an invitation of his own - to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who flew to Kabul and delivered a fiery anti-American speech inside Afghanistan's presidential palace. "Karzai was enraged," said an Afghan with knowledge of the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. "He invited Ahmadinejad to spite the Americans."
[...]
But the red carpet treatment of Mr. Ahmadinejad is just one example of how Mr. Karzai is putting distance between himself and his American sponsors, prominent Afghans and American officials here said. Even as Mr. Obama pours tens of thousands of additional American troops into the country to help defend Mr. Karzai's government, Mr. Karzai now often voices the view that his interests and the United States' no longer coincide.

Neither Mr. Karzai nor his spokesman, Waheed Omar, could be reached Monday. But according to Afghan associates, Mr. Karzai recently told lunch guests at the presidential palace that he believes the Americans are in Afghanistan because they want to dominate his country and the region, and that they pose an obstacle to striking a peace deal with the Taliban.
[...]
Some prominent Afghans say that Mr. Karzai now tells associates that the Americans' goal here is not to build an independent and peaceful Afghanistan, but to exercise their power.

In January, Mr. Karzai invited about two dozen prominent Afghan media and business figures to a lunch at the palace. At the lunch, he expressed a deep cynicism about America's motives, and of the burden he bears in trying to keep the United States at bay. "He has developed a complete theory of American power," said an Afghan who attended the lunch and who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. "He believes that America is trying to dominate the region, and that he is the only one who can stand up to them."

Mr. Karzai said that, left alone, he could strike a deal with the Taliban, but that the United States refuses to allow him. The American goal, he said, was to keep the Afghan conflict going, and thereby allow American troops to stay in the country.
[...]

2) US 'may not veto UN resolution on Jerusalem'
US 'threatens Israel on building'
BBC, Sunday, 28 March 2010 15:56 UK
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8591714.stm

The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, sources suggest to the BBC. The possibility surfaced at talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's foreign minister. The official said the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote, a diplomat told the BBC. US officials in Washington have not confirmed the report.

There are no concrete plans at present to table such a resolution at the UN by any state. But it is likely that the US is considering how to maintain pressure says BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas.

The US usually blocks Security Council resolutions criticising Israel. But relations between the allies have been severely strained by the announcement of plans to build 1,600 homes in an East Jerusalem settlement during a recent visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.
[...]
The reported exchange between the US official and Qatar's foreign minister came to light during a meeting at an Arab League summit in the Libyan town of Sirte. A diplomatic source told the BBC that Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani - who is also the prime minister - had recently met an official high up in the Obama administration during a visit to France.

During their talks, Sheikh Hamad asked the US official whether Washington would guarantee not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that was critical of Israel's ongoing settlement construction in East Jerusalem. The diplomat said the US official had replied that the current feeling in Washington was that they would "seriously consider abstention".

An Egyptian official is said to have confirmed his knowledge of the US position during a meeting at the Arab League summit, which was held behind closed doors.
[...]

3) In blueprint for Haiti, U.S. takes new approach to aid
Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, Tuesday, March 30, 2010; 12:03 PM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/30/AR2010033001894.html

An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation. This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.

The most dramatic change is an effort to build up Haiti's fragile government, instead of working around it. In an emergency spending request sent to Congress last week, the administration says it will help reconstruct the Haitian government, paying for new ministry offices. More broadly, the goal is to develop the framework of a modern state - spending money to help Haiti create building codes, regulatory systems and anticorruption standards. U.S. funds would be used to train and pay Haitian officials.

"We are completely focused on how to build the capacity of the Haitian government effectively," said Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff. "That is something everyone has recognized as being one of the failures of aid in the past."

For the U.S. government, which wasted billions of dollars in nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Haiti presents a new and complex test. Even before the earthquake, the country's government was dysfunctional and notoriously corrupt. Now, all but one of its ministries are in ruins. Nearly 17 percent of Haiti's civil servants died in the disaster, including many senior managers, according to the aid request to Congress.
[...]
Under the emerging plans, U.S. aid would be part of a vast international effort to rebuild parts of the Haitian state. Canada and France, for example, would help reconstruct the school system, officials said.
[...]
Foreign donors have tried to lift Haiti from poverty before, with paltry results. Even before the Jan. 12 earthquake, which shattered the economy, about three-quarters of the people in the Maryland-sized island country lived on less than $2 a day.
[...]
After large sums of aid money disappeared under dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in the 1980s, foreign countries shifted their assistance to nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. That approach has backfired, development experts say. Haiti has become known as the "Republic of NGOs," with an atrophied central government and up to 10,000 private groups doling out medicine, food and services.

U.S. aid has gone to large contractors that manage budgets bigger than those of Haitian ministries - but they have produced "mixed results," according to a summary of the U.S. policy review, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

In an interview, Mills, who led the review, said that past U.S. assistance to Haiti was dispersed over too many areas to have impact, and that no strategy was in place to transition to Haitian control. In contrast, the new U.S. plan focuses on four areas: health; agriculture; governance and security; and infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on energy. In each one, "we anticipate making investments that would strengthen the ministries," Mills said.


In the security area, for example, the U.S. government would help Haiti's justice ministry "develop and execute a post-earthquake justice strategy," according to the aid request. It would assist the Haitians in revising their criminal and civil codes. The United States would help fund ministry buildings, a national magistrate training school and a network of justice centers. U.S. funds would help pay salaries for regional judicial and police task forces, according to the plan.

The roughly $1 billion reconstruction blueprint is part of a $2.8 billion package that also would cover immediate post-earthquake needs such as food and tents. It would support the Haitian government's goal of decentralizing services and jobs away from the overcrowded capital.

The plan includes several measures to keep aid from being wasted. It requests $1.5 million for an inspector general. And the U.S. government would funnel some of the money through the proposed Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, made up of Haitian authorities and representatives of donor countries and international institutions. Its projects would be overseen by an international accounting firm.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, said that the government of President René Préval had made enough progress fighting corruption in recent years that the bank had tripled its direct assistance to Haiti.
[...]

4) Kandahar offensive to begin in June
Anne Flaherty, Associated Press, Monday, March 29, 2010; 9:22 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032902532.html

Washington - NATO forces in June will make a long-planned assault on the Taliban's spiritual home in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, a senior military official said Monday. The goal is to rid the city of Taliban forces before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in August, according to the official.

U.S. officials have previously disclosed plans for a NATO-led offensive in the area this year, but have not said when it might happen. The two-month offensive will be a major test of President Barack Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan and a bellwether of the war in general.
[...]

Haiti
5) Paul Farmer at Barry: NGOs Aren't Doing Enough to Help Haitian People
Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, Tuesday, Mar. 30 2010
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/03/paul_farmer_at_barry_ngos_aren.php

Dr. Paul Farmer, the Nobel-nominated founder of Partners in Health and a world expert on making international aid work, had harsh words yesterday for the hundreds of charities trying to help Haiti recover from January's earthquake. "There's graffiti all over the walls in Port au Prince right now saying, 'Down with NGOs,'" Farmer said in a speech at Barry University. "I think people in the NGO sector need to read the writing on the wall."

Coming from a man like Farmer, that's advice sure to turn heads in Haiti. Way back in 1987, Farmer and several colleagues founded Partners in Health, which provides free health care and drugs to Haiti's poorest residents. The group's model was so successful that it has since expanded to Rwanda, Russia, Peru and elsewhere.
[...]
In his speech yesterday, Farmer said that since the earthquake, too many NGOs in Haiti are worried more about staying in business than about creating sustainable solutions for Haitian people. "In the end, that becomes the goal of the NGO - self-preservation - instead of whatever goals are spelled out in their grand mission statement," Farmer said to an audience filled with Haitian-American students and residents. "The Haitian people are seeing the money coming in, and the resources aren't coming to them. That discontent will only grow as the rainy season moves in."
[...]
But Farmer also offered solutions. He suggested refocusing on core missions, such as feeding the hungry, bringing clean water to the thirsty and burying the dead.

NGOs should also re-write their mission statements to make it clear that the biggest mission in Haiti needs to be creating long-term jobs for Haitians. Without a sustainable economy, none of the other relief work will matter, he says. "If you can create several thousand jobs, you can change radically how the Haitian people will respond to their problems," he said. "They can make their own decisions."

Farmer also called for creative solutions to Haiti's problems. He mentioned traveling the country with Bill Clinton and confronting the problem of how to help the tens of thousands of seriously disabled earthquake victims. Clinton, Farmer said, suggested creating a call center industry in Haiti and giving first priority jobs to the disabled. "We should all have massive job creation as our primary goal," he said.

6) Aid In Haiti Creates Competition With Local Business Owners
MP Nunan, Huffington Post, March 30, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mp-nunan/aid-in-haiti-creates-comp_b_518652.html

Haiti-based businessman Maulik Radia has weathered two coup d'etats, two major hurricanes and now an earthquake in the country he's worked in for the past 25 years. But now he faces his latest challenge: the aid industry - and how it's killing the demand for locally-produced buckets.

As the General Manager of a plastics company, Plastech Solutions, Radia has had to lay off more than 20 of his 150 staff because his company cannot compete with the free materials coming in from the US and other countries. "Manufacturing has shifted to the US and benefits the US producer," Radia says, adding that the US military has been shipping donated goods to Haiti free of charge. "On top of that, the US gives tax advantages [to donors], so it's a write-off. So how do you expect me match that?"

Most heavily hit was the demand for 5 gallon buckets - used in a post-disaster situation for myriad tasks, including water purification, construction and as containers for carrying emergency household goods distributed by aid groups. Prior to the January 12, 2010 earthquake, Radia could sell a single bucket for $4. Now, with donated buckets glutting the market, he has to push to keep the price above $2.50.
[...]
I went to Haiti earlier this month on a trip sponsored by The Peace Dividend Trust, an organization that encourages international organizations to spend their money locally, rather than sourcing aid material from overseas.
[...]
"Buying local" is a simple concept, but one that has been too often ignored by the aid-industry. In theory, after the earthquake, Plastech Solutions should have had more demand for 5 gallon buckets, and Radia should be hiring more Haitian staff, rather than laying them off. But according to PDT, as little as 5 percent of aid money spent during a humanitarian crisis is spent in the local economy. Much of the funding goes toward foreign goods and ex-patriate salaries for aid-workers.
[...]
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is donating 500 tons of cooking oil to Haiti in April. Radia fears that will decimate demand for locally produced cooking oil, and the demand on Plastech Solutions for plastic cooking oil bottles.

In an email, USAID spokeswoman Moira Whelan told me, "Ensuring that our work furthers the Haitian economy is a top priority to USAID. We work hand-in-hand with local business owners and have deployed market experts to make sure that the investments we make are sound and can become self-sustaining."

It will probably take more than that to convince Radia who says he has yet to be contacted by USAID or any other international agencies. A letter he wrote to the Clinton Foundation, expressing concern about the effect international aid has on Haitian business, he says, has gone unacknowledged.
[...]

Iraq
7) Panel: Firms Need U.S. Guidance To Reduce Contractors In Iraq
Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, Tuesday, March 30, 2010; A10
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032901343.html

The U.S. government is probably paying contractors millions of dollars for unnecessary work in Iraq because the military is not giving companies clear enough guidance about reducing their employees, officials on the Commission on Wartime Contracting said Monday.

There are roughly 102,000 contractors in Iraq, and each contracted worker can cost the government thousands of dollars a month, according to federal auditors. Commissioners said they were concerned that the U.S. military was not providing contractors with key information to help them synchronize their efforts with the drawdown of combat forces.

There are about 98,000 troops in Iraq, but that figure is expected to drop to 50,000 by August. At that time, the Pentagon estimates that the number of contract employees in the country will still exceed 70,000 - about half the count in January last year.
[...]
The commission, which was appointed in 2008 to look at the use of government contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, questioned officials from Houston-based KBR at a hearing Monday about whether they were reducing their workforce in a cost-effective and timely way. Under a $38 billion contract, KBR provides a variety of logistics services, including running dining halls, doing laundry and transporting supplies for U.S. troops.

Auditors for the Defense Department said late last year that KBR could save $193 million from January to August this year by reducing its workforce. But, in a new report, auditors said that KBR's plans for a drawdown during the same time period would save only $27 million. KBR officials said they need "written contractual direction" from the U.S. military about its plans to reduce troops so that it can staff accordingly.
[...]

Honduras
8) Group Demands Honduran Government Stanch Violence Against Reporters
Latin American Herald Tribune, March 27, 2010.
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=354460&CategoryId=23558

Paris - Reporters Without Borders on Saturday called on Honduran authorities to crack down on violence against reporters, five of whom have been killed thus far in 2010. The Paris-based media watchdog, which is known by the initials RSF, said in a statement that Honduras and Mexico have been by far the deadliest countries for journalists in the Americas this year.

The organization therefore urged authorities to act forcefully to bring a halt to the violence and identity the perpetrators of the killings.

The most recent fatalities - Bayardo Mairena, 52, and Manuel Juarez, 55 - were returning from co-hosting a radio program in the eastern city of Catacamas when they were ambushed and killed by gunmen near the city of Juticalpa, in Olancho province. According to witnesses, the assailants killed the reporters at point-blank range and in cold blood.

RSF noted that the motives behind some of the killings have not been determined, although it said that in addition to the threat posed by organized-crime elements, the Honduran press continues to be a primary target in the "context of post-coup repression."
[...]

9) UNESCO decries killings of journalists in Honduras
Alex Leff, Tico Times, March 29, 2010
http://www.ticotimes.net/dailyarchive/2010_03/0329103.cfm

Honduran journalists Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juarez were shot to death on March 26, raising the death toll for journalists to five in the month of March, Honduran police spokeswoman Elsa Rodriguez told the newswire Bloomberg. Rodriguez said that police have no suspects in the case and have not established a motive. Mairena and Juarez were murdered after directing a program for the local station Radio Excelsior in the town of Catacamas.

Even before the latest murders, the United Nations last week had stepped up the global outcry over Honduras' recent journalist killings, calling for the new government of that Central American country to take action.

Nahúm Palacios, 34, a TV and radio journalist who covered drug trafficking and politics, was gunned down on March 14 in Tocoa, a city in the north Atlantic department of Colón, his car peppered with 42 bullet holes, according to press reports.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body of the Organization of American States, reportedly had urged the Honduran government in July 2009 to provide protection for Palacios because of threats and harassment that he had received. However, local media reported that this protection never arrived.

According to the independent nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Palacios had received threats from the military in June 2009 after his critical coverage of the coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya.

"The murder of Mr. Nahúm Palacios Arteaga is a denial of freedom of information, a fundamental right that is a cornerstone of a democratic society," said Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The organization is the only U.N. agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. "I call on the authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrators to justice, to show that impunity will not be tolerated in Honduras," Bokova said.
[...]

India
10) U.S. And India Reach Agreement On Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing
Rama Lakshmi and Steven Mufson, Washington Post, Tuesday, March 30, 2010; A12
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032901744.html

New Delhi - India and the United States announced Monday the successful conclusion of negotiations granting rights to India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a new step toward opening nuclear commerce between the two countries, potentially worth billions of dollars.

The accord is part of the historic civilian nuclear-energy agreement that ended more than three decades of nuclear isolation for India by facilitating its access to nuclear fuel and technology, even though it has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement, negotiated for more than nine months, lays out conditions to safeguard against the diversion of American nuclear fuel into India's weapons program, but critics warned that the accord would create new dangers of spreading nuclear materials.
[...]
Sources in the Indian and American nuclear power industries said India has secured significant concessions in the reprocessing accord. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details have not been made public.

One element is that the reprocessing will not be monitored by the United States directly, but by the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, according to a source in the U.S. nuclear industry. "Indians did not want direct American oversight with an American flag on them. It is a symbolic, sovereignty issue for Indians," said the source, who is familiar with the negotiations.

The United States follows this model only with Europe and Japan. "India is now in a special circle. This is a big deal," said Ted Jones, director of policy advocacy at the U.S.-India Business Council.
[...]
The pact will go into effect unless Congress passes a resolution of disapproval. "We've debated and voted on this twice," said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He said Congress would not do so again.
[...]

Afghanistan
11) Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalised, Study Finds
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, March 30
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50843

Washington - Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country's juvenile justice system. The study, carried out by U.S. defence attorney Kimberly Motley for the international children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes, reveals a justice system that subjects juveniles, many of whom are already innocent victims, to torture, forced confessions and blatant violation of their rights in court.

Motley, who may be the only practicing Western defence attorney in Afghanistan, told IPS that the study shows the need for alternatives to introducing juveniles into what she calls the "injustice system". The author personally interviewed 250 of the 600 juveniles in jails and rehabilitation centres across the country, including half the 80 girls and 40 percent of the 520 boys, as well as 98 professionals working in the system.

Although only two of the girls interviewed reported being beaten by police, 130 out of the 208 boys under the age of 18 interviewed said they had been beaten. The interviews were carried out by Motley in 28 provinces from September through December 2009.


Those statistics parallel the findings of a study published by the U.N. Children's Fund and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in 2008, which found that 55 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls reported having been beaten upon their arrest. Virtually all the male juveniles said the police beatings were aimed at forcing them to sign a confession. They said they had signed either while being beaten or threatened with being beaten, and that the confessions were then used to convict them.

The testimony of the juveniles themselves on brutalisation by police was consistent with Motley's interviews with juvenile court judges. Forty-four percent of the judges interviewed indicated that juveniles complained routinely about torture and physical abuse by police officers. Another 33 percent refused to answer when asked whether they had heard such complaints.

Many of the boys interviewed by Motley reported that they been beaten by several police simultaneously. In one case, a 17-year-old said he was "kicked liked an animal" by six or seven policemen after his arrest.

One juvenile charged with putting up signs around the city threatening terrorist acts told Motley that he signed a confession only after having been subjected to electric shock and hung from the ceiling by the National Security Police. The torture continued for more than two months, according to the boy.

The prosecutor in the case admitted to Motley that she had not only been aware of the accusations of torture but had seen marks on the boy's body indicating that the confessions had indeed been obtained under torture. The prosecutor further acknowledged that no witnesses or other evidence had been presented in support of the charges against the boy.

The judge in the case told Motley that when asked in court why the case had not been dismissed as required by Afghan law, the prosecutors admitted that it was because they were afraid of the National Security Police and felt they had no choice.

In addition to the male juveniles who had signed coerced confessions by their thumbprint, 24 percent of all the male and female juveniles interviewed told Motley they had signed confessions prepared by police without realising it until they had gone to court. In some cases, they were tricked into signing a blank sheet of paper which was then used for the confession.

Almost half the children brought before a court in Afghanistan are also denied the right to speak in their defence, according to Motley's study. Forty-seven percent of those interviewed, including 62 percent of those in the western region, were not allowed to testify on their own behalf.

One of the male juveniles denied the right to testify in court was a boy charged with pederasty, or sexual relations between an adult male and a child. As is often the case, he was the victim of rape, after having been kidnapped by three adults, all of whom were released and never charged. When the boy tried to explain in court that he was raped, however, he was told by the judge not to speak or even look at her, Motley recounts. The attorney for the child "barely spoke out for him," and he was sentenced to five years in jail.

Motley also found, however, that 71 percent of the judges surveyed expressed the view that, if a juvenile remains silent in court when asked questions by a judge, they must be guilty.
[...]
In one the centre's male dormitory rooms, which was chosen at random, the 10 juveniles present were asked through an interpreter how many had been beaten by police after their arrest. Half of the boys raised their hands. One recalled having been subjected to electric shock in order to get him to sign a confession. "They put the cables on my toes and fingers," he said, "and they turned on the electricity many times for a few seconds." He agreed to sign, and the police handed him a piece of paper on which to put his thumbprint.
[...]

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

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