Another Broken Promise

Posted on August 13, 2010

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I’ve sadly lost track of all the promises made by Obama the Candidate, now broken by Obama the President. One in particular, however, is quite relevant to the current trial of Omar Khadr, who is on trial this week at Guantanamo. Khadr was arrested at the age of 15, in Afghanistan, accused of having thr0wn a grenade that injured an American soldier in 2002. You can read more about that here. Obama promised to champion the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty which only the US and Somalia have not ratified, when he was a candidate, at Walden University’s Obama-McCain debate, claiming:

It’s important that the United States return to its position as a respected global leader and promoter of human rights. It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights.

But Obama has done nothing to ratify this treaty. Had it been ratified, the US would currently be in contravention of the treaty, after torturing Khadr and jailing him for 8 years without charge. The Convention states:

Article 37

States Parties shall ensure that:

(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;

(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;

(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;

(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.

Article 39

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

Article 40

2. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of international instruments, States Parties shall, in particular, ensure that:

(b) Every child alleged as or accused of having infringed the penal law has at least the following guarantees:

(i) To be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law;

(ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his or her defence;

(iii) To have the matter determined without delay by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body in a fair hearing according to law, in the presence of legal or other appropriate assistance and, unless it is considered not to be in the best interest of the child, in particular, taking into account his or her age or situation, his or her parents or legal guardians;

Candidate Obama expressed shame that the US and Somalia are the only countries that haven’t taken on these commitments. President Obama ensures that all of the acts the convention is designed to prevent, are free to occur.

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