Prompt 1 (Global Issues 2014)


Whose human rights deserve to be safeguarded?

Consider recent reports that inmates have been suffering “heat-related” deaths and severe illnesses in America’s crowded prisons.  Or recall the continued controversial detention of suspected and known terrorists at Guantanamo Bay (see, e.g., this 2006 or 2007 NPR news broadcast).  Lastly, consider the treatment of child migrants who have unlawfully entered the United States (New York Times article available here).  Do these examples raise concerns about human rights violations?

In other words, do members of such groups—here, for example, criminals, individuals with suspected ties to terrorist organizations, and illegal immigrants—whether in the United States or abroad, deserve greater protection of their human rights?  If so, then why?  And what would some of the foreseeable consequences be of implementing policies that would improve the treatment of such groups?  If not, then what justifies treating these groups differently?  And to what extent is it justifiable to relax (if not suspend) the safeguard of their human rights?


16 Comments

Filed under 110_2014: Global Issues

16 responses to “Prompt 1 (Global Issues 2014)

  1. Michayla B.

    Swinger hotels, refugee children, and overwhelmed border agents

    There are fantastic programs in the United States for refugees fleeing religious or political persecution in countries like Iraq and Somalia (US Department of State website 2014). There are virtually no programs like this for Mexican children, many of which are crossing the border to flee gang violence. There can’t be programs for just the children and the parents aren’t as subject to the gang violence (CNN). The United States is failing in the area of keeping these children safe. The article found on The Blaze’s website tells about how the border guard tried to use a hotel they thought was abandoned to house some of these immigrant children but it turns out the hotel is actually a spa, is booked months in advance, and routinely houses swinger conventions (Noble) Basically, the United States is dramatically and epically failing these immigrant children and something needs to be done about it.

    Many times these children are starving or burning in the desert (Basu). The United States needs to implement immigrant programs like they have for people who face religious and political persecution in other countries for families that are being affected by gang violence in Mexico (granted all of these programs need to function more efficiently). They need to establish an agency whose purpose isn’t to protect the border but is to analyze these situations and get children out of there. Unarguably, the situation faced by children like the one CNN commented on is just as bad as other countries. Alternately, there are a boatload of arguments against Mexican illegal immigration which could counter my point about establishing an agency to aid such immigration. The important part of the situation is that if something isn’t done children will keep dying in the desert.

    As a final note, from the article published by CNN, “immigrant advocates say the crisis has proven to be fertile ground for human traffickers who are quick to take advantage of the chaos” (Moni 2014). Considering the programs the United States has for other country’s refugees, it is pertinent that we develop something similar for children who are fleeing gang violence to prevent them from falling into the hands of sex traffickers. If an agency to get children who are in dangerous situations out of Mexico were established it would help regulate the situation in a more effective manner.

    Basu, Moni. “Daniel’s journey: How thousands of children are creating a crisis in America.” CNN. 19 June.

    Noble, Zach. “The Feds Wanted to Turn This Hotel into a Refugee Camp… But They Made a Major Error.” The Blaze. 21 June.

    U.S. Department of State. Refugee Admissions (home page), 1 July 2014. Web.

    • Frankie S.

      Response to Michayla

      I first want to mention that in the first few sentences there was a lot of new information I learned! However there’s a sentence with in your paragraph that grabbed my attention. “The United States is failing in the area of keeping children safe” I understand your concern but when did these children become America’s responsibility? You also referred to these children trying to flee gang violence, my next question is what about the children fighting game violence in our states? Don’t we have more of a right to take care and protect our children first? “According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment report, gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions, and up to 90 percent in others” (Gangs, 2010). Although for my above statements it may be hard to believe but I do believe the individual rights should be protected at all cost. Part of being an American is having rights and being able to protect those rights. Due to the fact that these individuals are not Americans, I do believe we should still treat them as respectable individuals, however that does not mean allowing them into our country practically free of cost.

      However, I do agree with you that a better program should be in place, a program that allows an individual to become a United States citizen, which is simpler than the current one we have in place. With this being said, what about the individuals that take their time and go through the very long process of becoming citizens? Isn’t the American dream about hard work and achieving your goals? The immigrants that take the time to become citizens should be applauded for putting in the hard work and the time. “10-20 million illegal aliens presently roam the U.S. The number of illegal aliens doubled in the 1990’s” (Illegal Immigration Facts, 2008).

      Gangs. (2010, March 19). FBI. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs.

      Illegal Immigration Facts. (2008). Citizens for Immigration Law Enforcement. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.citizensforlaws.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&I

  2. Keelin C.

    Hello everyone, my name is Keelin. I’m not sure how many of you watch Scandal, but I’m not gonna lie, I’m an enthusiastic fan. Recently I was talking to a family friend, who said she felt the show was “completely ridiculous” because “those things aren’t legal here” in the United States. Fair enough, torture is illegal, and I’m pretty sure the government isn’t supposed to have secret branches of the CIA running around brutalizing fellow American citizens on American soil. Do I believe in all reality that something being illegal slows the government down? Call me a conspiracy theorist – but not for a second. Albeit, I love America, God Bless the USA, but we do some really messed up things internationally and on our own land.

    Do I feel convicts, illegal immigrants, and suspected terrorists deserve greater protection of human rights? ABSOLUTELY. There’s a solid reason many countries around the world disdain America, and that’s because we’re bullies. We expect countries around the world to uphold a standard, yet we’re the first to throw those out the window when trying to obtain information.

    Forget international torture for a moment and focus on national issues. It is well known throughout America that the prison system is corrupt, be it police officers to jail guards to prison wardens. Of course not all of these people are corrupt, probably not the majority even, but prison is one of the most notably corrupted systems in America. There is currently an outcry against the ever-rising statistic of sexual assault in the military. In 2013 a report was released showing that sexual assault in the US Military rose by 50%, though it’s unclear if that is because sexual assaults are being reported at a higher frequency, or if actual assaults are occurring more often (cnn.com). The point is that the prison system and the military as a whole, in America, is very badly broken and human rights are denied to people daily. In the Washington Post reading assigned it said that “humane” treatment of prisoners abroad requires nothing more than “providing food, clothing, shelter, and medical care” (Luban, 3). I think it’s safe to argue all of those provisions are minimal at best.

    I think a big consequence of implementing stricter human rights laws would mean an increase in taxes of the American people. According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $50 million of state taxes go towards correction programs (cbpp.com). That’s a lot of money but I think the only way any change is made in America today is made through money. I also think, as a whole the prison system in America would need to be reconstructed in order to be successful at implementing healthier conditions for inmates abroad or locally. And finally, I believe anyone from a police officer, to a high-ranking military official, to an interrogation instructor needs to be educated on the human condition and psychology to fully understand what they are doing and how effective they are at doing it.

  3. Jason B.

    Inequalities of basic human rights
    are still being violated by the world’s greatest superpower

    The United States, the worlds’ superpower, the economic machine, the leader in industry, and agriculture, takes center stage in all these areas; however, even with all these achievements the United States still undermines the basic human rights guaranteed to its own citizens and citizen abroad. Universally, every human being is entitled to natural rights. This idea is called utilitarianism and was developed by Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill (Payne 2013: 47). Recently, human rights issues have gained global attention after incidents involving detainees’ at Guantanamo Bay.

    Even though, the United States takes center stage on political, economic, and military issues; it’s the issues of basic human rights that come into question. The United States sets an example that much of the world follows, however, the United States (and other countries) need to take a step back and reevaluate the ideas of basic human rights.

    Much of the controversy surrounding human rights can be seen with detainees’ at Guantanamo Bay. The detainees’ do not have any access to federal courts to challenge their imprisonment. According to Neil Lewis, who wrote an article in The New York Times, stated that when John McCain, a onetime prisoner of war who spent more than five years in North Vietnam, who visited Guantanamo, stated that the detention of detainees’ violated basic human rights (Lewis 2003: 14). Understandably, some individuals may have committed crimes, however, certain individuals are deemed not guilty in a court of law and these individuals are still required to remain at Guantanamo. How is this fair? On January 10, 2003, Amnesty International (which is a nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs) sent a letter to the Bush administration referring to the nearly 650 detainees’ as the “legal black hole” and asking why these individuals are not entitled to any of the legal protections of U.S. domestic law or international human rights law (Wilson 2003: 2). The United States military admits to the use of “stress and duress,” which is a form of interrogation techniques which include torture that has been ruled as inhuman treatment by many international bodies. However, in times of war does change the playing field? What if, for example, one of the Guantanamo Bay detainees’ knew of some plans for a potential future attack. And what if the only way to extract that information was through the use of torture? According to McCain, he states that, “the most useful operational intelligence information goes stale after about four months,” meaning that the detainees’ can provide little information of value (Lewis 2003: 14). Is this still acceptable? Is it okay to violate basic human rights for the betterment of society? I think not, with all the knowledge and brain power the world has to offer, I think there are better ways to obtain information than by torturing and violating basic human rights.

    Lewis, Neil A. “Try Detainees or Free Them, 3 Senators Urge.” The New York Times 13 December 2003: A4.

    Payne, Richard J. Global Issues: Politics, Economics, and Culture, 4th Edition. Boston: Pearson, 2013.

    Wilson, Richard J. “United States Detainees at Guantánamo Bay: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Responds to a ‘Legal Black Hole’.” Human Rights Brief 10.3 (2003): 2-5, 41.

    • John L.

      Response to Jason

      First of all, I enjoyed reading your post and think that you give some good justification for closing down Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), which has been a topic of interest for many Human Rights organizations in recent years. I believe that all humans are given certain birth rights, and that no one should have the authority to deny a person these rights. In addition, I believe that people need to be held accountable for their actions and proper punishment should be delivered depending on the severity of the crime. And I believe that most the prisoners at Gitmo are being properly held responsible for their actions, and that the actions of the United States government are protected by the rules of War. Post 9/11, the Bush Administration put in place new titles for those captured during the War on Terror: Enemy Combatants. According to an article by the Council on Foreign Relations:

      “An “enemy combatant” is an individual who, under the laws and customs of war, may be detained for the duration of an armed conflict. In the current conflict with al Qaida and the Taliban, the term includes a member, agent, or associate of al Qaida or the Taliban” (Enemy Combatants).

      All of the detainees (at least the lists in which are released to the public) have some form of connection to the Al Qaeda or Taliban terrorist groups, and were all imprisoned because of these terrorist relations. I think it is easy for people to forget that many of these prisoners are responsible for heinous crimes, and have been involved in plotting to kill innocent people. The website for the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has a list of some of the most dangerous terrorists that are housed at Guantanamo Bay. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was one of the men who plotted the 9/11 attacks which killed 2,996 people. Abu Zubaydah helped train three of the 9/11 hijackers, and was plotting more terrorist attacks at the time of his capture.

      It seems too often that people are quick to criticize the U.S. for the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo, but people forget that these prisoners have committed terrible crimes themselves. There are times to be empathetic and times to be harsh, and being harsh is the only way to handle terrorists.

      Speaker.gov. “Fact Sheet: Top 10 Most Dangerous Terrorists Housed at Guantanamo Bay Prison.” (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2014, from http://www.speaker.gov/general/fact-sheet-top-10-most-dangerous-terrorists-housed-guantanamo-bay-prison.

      Haynes, W. (2002, December 12). “Enemy Combatants.” Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved July 5, 2014, from http://www.cfr.org/international-law/enemy-combatants/p5312.

  4. Anna G.

    When it comes to issues such as the heat related deaths in U.S. prisons, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and treatment of child migrants, the concerns about human rights violations are overwhelming. Before president Barack Obama was elected, he did a press release in 2008 in which he speaks these encouraging words about Human Rights: “let us rededicate ourselves to the advancement of human rights and freedoms for all, and pledge always to live by the ideals we promote to the world.” It is no question that a re-dedication to human rights is desperately needed.

    Human rights abuses in prison should not go unnoticed. According to a report by University of Texas School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic, since 2007, at least 14 people have died as a result of extreme heat in Texas prisons (2014). Lawyer Jeff Edwards was interviewed by the Texas Tribune and he speaks out against this clear violation of human rights. According to Edwards (2013) “doing this to human beings, no matter what crime they were convicted of, is unconscionable.” Fortunately, cooling systems are being installed in Texas prisons, although Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials deny any connection between the lawsuits that have been filed for heat related deaths and the introduction of the cooling systems (Graczyk 2014).

    Possibly more alarming than heat related deaths are the human rights abuses happening within Guantanamo Bay. During an interview with BBC News, UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay (2013) argues that Guantanamo Bay “severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights.” Ms Pillay believes that Guantanamo Bay should be closed, and she states that 166 out of the nearly 170 detainees have already been approved for transfer out of Guantanamo. In 2009, Barack Obama issued and executive order to close Guantanamo Bay. More than five years later, the detention center remains open (Koren 2014). After the encouraging speech that Barack Obama delivered on Human Rights Day, it is deeply disturbing that he has not kept his word about closing the facility.

    Human rights concerns are also very serious for migrant children being housed in detention centers in the United States. An investigation carried out by the Houston Chronicle found that children in these detainment centers have been suffering drastic conditions and abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to be caring for them. The Houston Chronicle filed a Freedom of Information Act request which uncovered hundreds of allegations of abuse (Carroll 2014).

    These people absolutely deserve to have greater protection of their human rights. Not only because it’s morally and ethically wrong to allow these abuses, but because it’s one of the main values that our country was founded upon. In order to solve these problems, prisons must have cooling systems that protect inmates from extreme heat and justice needs to be delivered on behalf of the deaths caused by the negligence of the prison. Plans need to be made for the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, starting with the 166 that have already been approved. It is the responsibility of the United States government to follow through with the executive order made by Barack Obama. Immigration detention centers need to be under extreme scrutiny and held responsible for all allegations abuse.

    • Amanda O.

      There Is No Pick And Choose

      Response to Anna

      Re-dedication is a polite way to propose what needs to be done in reference to human rights issues in the areas such as; heat related deaths in U.S. prisons, child migrants, and more critically in Guantanamo. Each issue is surrounded by controversy, controversy arguing the human rights protection within and outside the U.S. While the issue of heat related deaths in prisons has been resolved, the other issues of children migrants and Guantanamo Bay still remain. Anna makes a strong point stating “it’s one of the main values that our country was founded upon” and while we acknowledge the importance of human rights, these particular circumstances highlight the areas of human rights failures. Human rights is not an area where you can pick and choose, either you acknowledge it or you don’t, there is no in between.

      With reference to the heat related deaths in U.S. prisons, the Supreme Court has said that prisons can’t expose prisoners to conditions that pose a substantial risk of serious harm and were ordered to cool the cells of prisoners that are most at risk. (Fathi, 2014) The acknowledgement naturally came with some controversy that included the expenses that would arise in order to address this issue.

      Immigration reform could be another are of expenses for taxpayers. There has been an explosion of child migrants, “Since October 2013, about 50,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended on the Mexican border” (Santos, 2014). With such a large amount of children migrants, it is not only important to protect them form abuse within the detainment facilities, but also “help ensure that they do not end up in the hands of predators or sex offenders” (Santos, 2014). And while expense regarding reform for immigration polices will cause controversy, the human rights of these migrants especially children cannot be ignored.

      Although Obama did encourage the closure of Guantanamo Bay, his actions (or lack there of) have spoken far louder than his words. Guantanamo Bay remains as well as 150 detainees, most whom have been held without charge or trial (Amnesty International, 2014). And what comes even more disturbing than Obama’s broken promises, is the more recent acknowledgement to not oblige the human rights issues abroad. “The Obama administration declared that a global Bill of Rights-style treaty imposes no human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad” (Savage, 2014). Further reiterating America’s double standard stance on human rights issues. “Every year that the USA has been operating the Guantánamo detention camp, it has continued to proclaim its commitment to international human rights standards. If any other country were responsible for the human rights vacuum of Guantánamo, it would surely draw the USA’s condemnation.”(Amnesty International, 2014). Guantanamo Bay is a hypocrisy that will only damage the U.S. international reputation in regard to human right standards.

      In resolution, Anna has it right “These people absolutely deserve to have greater protection of their human rights.” And as long as we take the stance to protect human rights, we must protect them regardless if they are prisoners, illegal immigrants, or supposed terrorists. There is no pick and choose.

      Amnesty International. (2014, 01 09). “12 years of Guantanamo Detentions, 12 years of Double Standards.” Retrieved 07 03, 2014, from Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org.

      Fathi, D. (2014, 05 21). “Extreme Heat In Prisons Dangerous For Some Inmates.” Here and Now. (R. Young, Interviewer).

      Santos, F. (2014, 06 18). “Border Centers Struggle to Handle Onslaught of Young Migrants.” Retrieved 07 03, 2014, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com.

      Savage, C. (2014, 03 13). “U.S., Rebuffing U.N., Maintains Stance That Rights Treaty Does Not Apply Abroad.” Retrieved 07 03, 2014, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com.

  5. Sam D.

    The Lost Children of Central America

    For almost a year, unaccompanied children have been making their way towards the Mexico-US Border. These children are then sent off to processing centers where they can be identified and held while agents search for relatives that live within the United States. However, this task takes time, and the number of children in these centers adds up. Many centers are forced to send kids to a different center simply because they cannot handle the overflow of children coming in. With this large number of children, comes the tough work of taking care of them. How are living standards in these centers? What can be done to improve them if they are lacking? According to Fernanda Santos of the New York Times, “There is barely room to walk; mattresses line the concrete floor, which also has long bleachers bolted to it,” and, “As detainees, none of the children are allowed to go outside except to exercise for 45 minutes to an hour a day” (Santos). Many of these issues can be attributed to the overflow of children that these centers have to deal with, and the centers are said to be doing their best, but there is still the undeniable fact that these centers are crowded and often not in the best shape to do this work, as stated in the New York Times article. “In Nogales, the logistical challenges of caring for the children are clear. There are three portable restrooms in each pen, and 60 showers in five trailers like the ones used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in disaster areas. In the holding pens, there is no source of entertainment other than televisions with seemingly no sound or improvised games of soccer played in cramped corners” (Santos). The question that seems to follow then is: are we doing everything we can for these kids, and should we be doing it in the first place? Some of the American public think not. According to a BBC News Article, “People shouting slogans and waving US flags blocked three buses carrying undocumented Central American families to a border patrol station in Murrieta” (BBC). The buses were forced to move the families to a different processing center further south.

    In my opinion, the actions of these Americans goes against what we as a nation should be striving to do, which is improving the quality of life for humans everywhere, not just those documented as citizens. The cases shown above clearly show a bubble that is about to burst – something has to give and these children need aid. Alternatively, there is the very real cost of dealing with these citizens, and the possible ramifications of improving human rights for such illegal immigrants. As a nation we are already polarized to the extreme – any leaning in one way or another could cause an immediate backlash and firestorm that would threaten our stability.

    NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/19/us/border-centers-struggle-to-handle-onslaught-of-children-crossers.html?_r=1.

    BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28121198.

    • Meghan J.

      Child Immigration finally opening the eyes of American Citizens

      Response to Sam

      Immigration has been a major problem in the United States for many years; we have just chosen to ignore it. Child immigration into the United States is not only a problem, but it is starting to open our eyes a bit. We are starting to see how serious of a problem this truly is. I believe when children get involved in anything, whether it is something bad or not, it makes us change our viewpoints on the subject. You made a statement in your argument about the actions of American’s going against what we should do as a nation, and I completely agree with you. America is all about freedom, and these children know that. They are fleeing to America to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. Sending these children back into harm without caring for them is not only wrong and immoral, but it goes against everything the United Sates stands for.

      Obviously something has to change; this problem is increasing at an alarming rate, as stated in an article in BBC news. “…. There has been a 142% rise from 2011” (Zurcher, BBC News 2014). The rise in these numbers is shocking. Clearly something is going on that is bigger that we think. There is a reason children want to leave there homes and come to America. “Now we’re getting a lesson in why reality is never quite so black and white. Over the last two years, a crisis has developed on our Southern border: a children’s migration of increasing scale, in which thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America have made the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border, many apparently motivated by the belief that some sort of legal status awaits them” (Douthat, New York Times 2014). You are completely right, we have to do something to help these children, or at least try.

      One thing in particular about this issue that shocks me, is the fact that this issue has been brought to President Obama’s attention. Until a legalization program is passed for immigrants, Republicans are asking Obama to suspend deportations. (Foley, Huffington Post 2014). But Obama is not going to do that. He will continuously send these immigrants back, without finding out a reason they keep coming back (or trying to come back). The Article in the Huffington Post also stated that if we do not do something it is going to kill the chances for a more permanent solution to this problem (Foley, Huffington post 2014). This statement supports your opinion, that if we do not do something, we will, no doubt have a backlash that will threaten our stability.

      Everything you have stated in you argument is fantastic. Your viewpoints are spot on. I do not think I could agree with you more on your opinions! We as Americans need to do something more, it should not matter if these children are citizens or not.

      Douthat, Ross. “Immigration Reform’s Open Invitation to Children.” The New York Times. 21 June 2014. Web. 05 July 2014.

      Foley, Elise. “Republicans Warn Obama: Halt Deportations, And We Might Halt Immigration Reform.” The Huffington Post. Feb. 2014. Web. 05 July 2014.

      Zurcher, Anthony. “Child Immigrants Creating US Border Crisis.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2014.

  6. Brent H.

    When talking about particular groups, such as the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, there is need for discussion about whether these individuals deserve a greater protection of their human rights. If the U.S. gave such rights to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay then there could be consequences that have costly effects. The argument could go two ways, the fact that the U.S. is holding more than one hundred detainees with the majority of which do not have any convicted war crimes is one argument or that the U.S. is containing these detainees for “suspicious” reasoning. Every person is allowed their human right when facing judicial proceeding; this protects them from being detained on suspicion, but according to the 2007 NPR news broadcast, in 2005 congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act that eliminated all challenges to imprisonment by people kept at Guantanamo Bay. The reason that the U.S. is keeping these men detained is because of their involvement with different terror groups worldwide. According to the Margot Williams of the New York Times, a detainee named Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh Naser was held for more than twelve years for be engaged in hostilities and extremist support is being transferred to Yemen to ensure complete and certain security conditions. Many of the detainees that are brought to Guantanamo are transferred to other areas. Even though the U.S. could not particularly prosecute them, they want to keep them away from the terrorist groups that could plan to partake in terrorist acts. In a recent 2007 article called “The Battle for Guantanamo” written by Tim Golden, he explained that the President and the Secretary of Defense both place the detainees at Guantanamo Bay in the category of the “worst of the worst.” By detaining suspicious terrorist it supports the Human Rights that Americans have. The U.S. military has a justifiable reasoning for treating these people this way by prohibiting the possibility of a terrorist attack.

    • Emily J.

      Stuck in Limbo

      Response to Brent

      Brent, Although I think you make some valid arguments on the detaining of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, I disagree with your overall opinion that the “worst of the worst” are held at Guantanamo bay and by detaining these suspected terrorists it supports the Human Rights that Americans have.

      The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that states the basic human rights of every human being regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, etc. The United States as a signatory of this treaty acknowledges these as to be basic human rights. The United States is in violation of Articles 8-10.

      Article 8 states “everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.” By holding these suspected terrorists at Guantanamo bay, there is no tribunal set up, they are being held without bail, a statement of charges and a release date, which violates this article.

      Article 9 states “no one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” When the U.S. Government decides to detain the suspected terrorists they are violation Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These people are being held in this prison without any formal charges being brought against them, and then are held in this jail for an indeterminate amount of time.

      Article 10 states “everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.” At Guantanamo bay the detainees have not had a trial or been brought up on charges, and there is no tribunal to try them. This is in clear violation of Article 10 (The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

      Miami Herald reporter, Carol Rosenberg, who has been following Guantanamo Bay since it was established in 2002 states “Before September 11th, I never imagined that we would be talking about holding people forever who we couldn’t charge, for whom there was either insufficient evidence to bring them to trial or for whom the evidence was so tainted that we couldn’t bring them to trial.”(National Public Radio, 2013.) By denying these detainees the right to a trial, and having no evidence to hold them we are denying them their human rights and violating Articles 8-10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      A counterargument of the violation of the detainees human rights would be that what the United States is lawful and protecting the rights of the American people. Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general of the United States during the Bush admiration quotes “It’s (Guantanamo Bay) totally consistent with international law, it’s totally consistent with our Constitution and it’s totally consistent with our tradition and our practice. People may not like it…but it is lawful” (National Public Radio, 2013).

      In conclusion I feel according to the UN treaty of human rights, we are violating the detainee’s rights in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      National Public Radio, 2013. “In Guantanamo, Have We Created Something We Can’t Close?” National Public Radio. 11 May.

      United Nations, 1948. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” 10 December.

  7. Karen A.

    Vulnerable populations are at greater risk for human rights violation

    The examples provided in the assigned reading material are all prime examples of human rights violations. Groups such as suspected terrorist, convicted criminals and illegal immigrants are vulnerable populations placing them at greater risk. Individuals due to circumstances or conditions who are placed in imbalanced situations or whose ability to make decisions for themselves are diminished, are more vulnerable to human rights violations and abuses. “In a human rights sense, certain population groups often encounter discriminatory treatment or need special attention to avoid potential exploitation” (Sage, p. 78, 2006). Circumstances arise that necessitates more focus on human rights for particular populations however; this does not mean that these groups should be placed above others. It simply means that their human rights need closer monitoring.

    One group from the readings were incarcerated individuals many of whom possess the mental capacity for decision making however, they are subject to authority, are subordinate to others, and are often a forgotten sector of society thus placing them at risk for human rights violations. Although prisoners loose certain rights and privileges as part of their punishment, they do not cease to be humans simply because of their prisoner status. Thus, they are still entitled to the basic human rights such as freedom from cruel and unusual punishment that results in suffering, pain, or humiliation.

    Since the 1960’s the US federal government has developed and implemented many different policy reforms in favor of more rigid enforcement of non-violent crimes. On the surface, this sounds like a magic wand solution to American society’s woes when it comes to criminals in its neighborhoods and schoolyards. Unfortunately a large majority of the policy reforms have had unintended consequences such as a growing burden on the US taxpayer, “This, as seen in ALEC’s recently updated initiative on Prison Overcrowding, has led states pouring hundreds of millions, even billions, of taxpayer dollars into their corrections budget. Prisons serve a valid and necessary role in protecting our communities but locking up many nonviolent individuals for lengthy sentences is an avoidable bill for taxpayers to foot” (Williams, 2014). An additional finding is the over incarceration of non-violent offenders, many of whom are not aware that they are committing a crime. “As a result, well-meaning, law-abiding individuals and businesses spend innumerable hours and dollars fending off criminal prosecution for actions they never suspected were illegal. Policymakers must take steps to ensure innocent individuals are protected from the growing number of vague and ambiguous criminal statutes” (Sullivan, 2013).

    Sage Publications. (2006, March 13). Human rights and vulnerable populations. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/11973_Chapter_5.pdf.

    Sullivan, C. (2013, December 16). Overcriminalizing Americans Wastes Money and Ruins Lives. Retrieved from http://www.americanlegislator.org/overcriminalizing-americans-wastes-money-ruins-lives/.

    Williams, A. (2014, April 8). Prison overcrowding threatens public safety and state budgets. Retrieved from http://www.americanlegislator.org/prison-overcrowding-threatens-public-safety-state-budgets/.

    • Melissa S.

      Inmate’s lawsuit to fight for safety and human rights

      Response to Karen

      When it comes to the treatment of prisoners it is hard to make a clean and clear cut decision on what is right and wrong. They have all chosen to directly disobey the laws set before them, laws that everyone else follows and obeys so that our country can be a little safer, yet at the same time they are people too. I agree with you when you said “they do not cease to be humans simply because of their prisoner status.” (Anna) But the question then is: are they at risk of being victims of a human rights violation and should we do something? If so, are we as a nation prepared and willing to bear the weight financially of taking care of these individuals?

      An inmate at a Texas prison has sued in order to attempt to force the Department of Criminal Justice to bring the heat down to 88 degrees or below. This is not the first time a law suit has been filed and inmates are complaining of unbearable and cruel heat. According to Texas Monthly, the “inmates have resorted to wrapping themselves in damp towels and lying on the concrete floors,” due to the extreme heat. The inmates claim that with the metal walls and sealed windows, their cells “trap in hot air like a “parked car” (Phillip, 2014). The extreme heat has caused the deaths of 14 inmates in Texas alone since 2007 (Young).

      As stated in the interview with David Fathi it would cost approximately $750,000 to provide air conditioning for the Wisconsin supermax (Young). To air condition all of these prisons would be a more than substantial amount of money. Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Brian McGiverin said, the “lawsuit “is not … about making prisons comfortable. It is merely a lawsuit about trying to ensure that the heat conditions are not lethal “(Phillip, 2014). It is clear that the law suit is not in effort to provide luxury to inmates it is merely a way to provide a safe environment and ensure their basic human rights including freedom from cruel and unusual punishment (Phillip, 2014).

      “The Supreme Court has long said that while the Constitution “does not mandate comfortable prisons,” officials “must provide humane conditions of confinement” (Rosenthal), something should be done to ensure the safety of the inmates against severe temperatures.

      Phillip, Abby. “Texas inmates sue for relief from prison cells that ‘hold heat in like a parked car’.” Washington Post. 20 June 2014, sec. Opinion: Print. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/opinion/heat-exhaustion-in-a-texas-prison.html.

      Rosenthal, Andrew. “Heat Exhaustion in a Texas Prison.” New York Times. 8 Aug. 2012, sec. Opinion: Print.
      Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/06/20/texas-inmates-sue-for-relief-from-prison-cells-that-hold-heat-in-like-a-parked-car/.

      Young, Robin, and Fathi, David. “Extreme Heat In Prisons Dangerous For Some Inmates.” Trustees of Boston University, Web Interview. Retrieved from: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/05/21/heat-prison-deaths.

  8. Jackson H.

    The U.S.’s Lax Stance on Child Immigration Puts Strain on All American Citizens

    For this week’s post, I wanted to focus on the children immigrating illegally into the United States. To begin, I don’t believe that we should be holding these children and teenagers like we are now. It is impossible to maintain our legal system if we continue to let it become backlogged with illegal immigration charges against minors.

    Not only does this put a gigantic strain on our legal system, but it also means that we must house these kids while they’re waiting for court proceedings. With housing also comes basic human needs; food, water, and shelter which all need to be paid for by someone. And that someone ends up being the taxpayers.

    The current status of the United States simply does not have room for mass immigration. But because of the slow court proceedings that have force border patrol to become baby-sitters, many rumors have been spreading in the south that,”…women and children can safely surrender to authorities the moment they set foot in the U.S. [which] has changed the calculus of tens of thousands of parents who no longer worry about their children finishing the dangerous trip north through Mexico with a potentially deadly multiday hike through the desert Southwest” (“Immigrant Mother: ‘All Children Need To Do Is Hand Themselves Over To The Border Patrol’” 2014).

    However, suppose that we could afford to house these children while they waited. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only problem we have encountered. Many of these children sneaking into the country illegally are carrying diseases that could potentially become a massive nation-wide health concern. “If [an immigrant coming in from Ellis Island] had been found to have tuberculosis, venereal disease, trachoma, or favus, he would not have been allowed in” (Seigel 2014). As Dr. Seigel points out, we did not let immigrants who were sick come in during the mass immigration of the early 1900s. And these were people who were entering the United States legally. Should this same rejection not be doubly true for people immigrating illegally?

    Now, of course, there are humanitarian concerns that need to be noted. Sure, if a child ended up on your doorstep, you would take that child in and help it. However, you would not keep that child. You would learn the child’s story, ensure that the child was not in need of medical care, and then give the child to another entity that had procedures for handling orphaned children.

    And that is the same policy that the United States should operate with. These children are not sneaking into the United States from third-world countries where there is essentially no government. At worst, they are from second-world countries, and these countries do have governments that also have systems in place for handling orphans and sick people. So, as children are captured, the border patrol needs to provide basic medical care if need be, and then send them back to their respective governments.

    CBS Houston. June 25, 2014. “Immigrant Mother: ‘All Children Need To Do Is Hand Themselves Over To The Border Patrol’.” July 2, 2014.

    Seigel, Marc. June 30, 2014. “Immigration crisis: US experiencing major public health crisis, too.” July 2, 2014.

  9. Jennie F.

    Basic Human Rights Are Non-Negotiable

    There are several groups of people around the world who are demonized as lesser humans and importantly, these groups all share a common tie of being a criminal, whether they be anywhere from thieves to terrorists to illegal immigrants. These people are the scum of the earth and therefore don’t get to be treated the same as the rest of the law-abiding citizens, right? This mentality, unfortunately, is leading to severe mistreatment of prisoners around the world, and they in turn are suffering from lack of their basic human rights. In terms of needs, humans require food, water, sleep, and other such basic necessities in order to survive. But these base needs are not typically considered in prisons, which is a result of how prisoners are viewed. Psychology studies such as the Stanford Prison Experiment show just how easy it is for a “normal” person to be seduced by power when given control over others and mistreat them, even when they should have no reason to. In a matter of days, the fake prison turned the “normal” guards into cruel and sadistic slave-drivers and the prisoners into tormented, anxiety-driven shells of people (Leithead 2011). When these situations are combined with discrimination and racism, the plights of prisoners only become amplified.

    This is where the problem lies in the United States. Other, less wealthy countries may have a resource problem when it comes to providing for prisoners, but America has resources like clean water, food, and ample space, yet still suffers from overcrowding, torture, and unfavorable prison conditions. In fact, in America, roughly one in every hundred adult is incarcerated (ALEC). Each state varies by its intensity of the problem, but it is clear that America has an “addiction” to putting people in jail (ALEC). This trend only intensifies in situations of discrimination, like with ICE and illegal immigrants. While the new mandate seems to be incarcerating people in “detention centers,” local police in areas of heavy illegal immigrant traffic have “been arresting more and more people for less and less” (Robbins 2013). Since the US’s main immigrant concern is on the Mexican boarder, there comes a point where these arrests and subsequent mistreatment of detainees begin to look more like racial profiling and discrimination than law enforcement.

    But these people are criminals who have hurt people/raped/stole things/came to the country without a visa, so they deserve to be treated poorly, right? Just throw them all in jail! This argument is hurting people both inside prison and out. If people weren’t thrown into prison willy-nilly, then taxpayers wouldn’t be wasting money on keeping lots of mostly harmless people in prison. And if the people who were in prison were treated better, then maybe they wouldn’t be subject to psychological trauma similar to the Stanford study and be able to rehabilitate into society easier. When it comes down to it, if prisoner’s basic human rights weren’t violated, things would be a lot better for people on both sides of the bars.

    Leithead, Alastair. “Stanford Prison Experiment Continues to Shock.” BBC News. BBC, 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 03 July 2014.

    “Prison Overcrowding – American Legislative Exchange Council.” ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2014.

    Robbins, Ted. “Little-Known Immigration Mandate Keeps Detention Beds Full.” NPR. NPR, 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 03 July 2014.

  10. Katie L.

    Response to Jennie

    I agree with the overall stance you put forth here—that prisoners/criminals should be afforded the same basic human rights that are given to noncriminal. From your post, it sounds like you’re arguing that prisoners deserve basic human rights (access to food, water, sleep) but are denied these because they are considered subhuman (you reference the Stanford Prison Experiments), and because they are discriminated against.

    A person’s status as a convict does not change their status as a human being, and if the United States government is going to hold to its foundations set in the Declaration of Independence, then all men are created equal and by extension deserve equal rights, regardless of their criminal status. Prisoners are legally entitled to medical care, the right to practice their own religion, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, and habeas corpus (ACLU).

    If anything, I think it’s important to bring more awareness to prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in light of the Stanford Prison Experiment. The study shows how easy it is for people put in positions of extreme power or authority to exploit and abuse that power, and that fact alone should lead to increased monitoring of the prison system. The Stanford study’s lead researcher, Phillip G. Zimbardo, said he was not surprised when the Abu Ghraib prison conditions came to light, because the exact results were predicted in his study. The extremely unbalanced power balance, Zimbardo says, is powerful enough to make ‘good’ people do terrible things. This quote sums it up perfectly: “It’s not that we put bad apples in a good barrel. We put good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything that it touches” (Schwartz 2004).

    The current state of the prison system is harming inmates and hindering the hope of rehabilitation and readjustment to society (ACLU). Hopefully, with further enforcement of basic human rights, the prison system can reduce its total population and its number of repeat offenders.

    “Prisoners’ Rights.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 July 2014.

    Schwartz, John. “Simulated Prison in ’71 Showed a Fine Line Between `Normal’ and ‘Monster’.” The New York Times, 6 May 2004. Web. 5 July 2014.

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