La province d’Idlib, au nord-ouest de la Syrie, dernière grande enclave aux mains des forces rebelles, a jusqu’à présent servi de soupape de sécurité. Alors que les autres enclaves antigouvernementales tombaient les unes après les autres, les survivants n’ont eu d’autre choix que d’être livrés à leur sort à Idlib ou bien de vivre dans des zones contrôlées par le gouvernement, où ils seraient constamment exposés au risque d’être détenus, torturés et exécutés. Pour des raisons évidentes, beaucoup ont choisi Idlib. Actuellement, environ la moitié des 2,3 millions de personnes y vivant sont des personnes déplacées, venant d’autres régions de Syrie.… Seguir leyendo »
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The endgame of the war in Syria is likely to come down to the northwestern province of Idlib, on the Turkish border, where some 2.3 million people are now trapped. As Russian-Syrian forces now finish retaking the smaller southwestern province of Daraa, Idlib will be the last significant enclave in anti-government hands. If Russian-Syrian forces resume pummeling the city and surrounding area from the air, its civilians could face the horrible choice of bunkering in place or desperately trying to cross the Turkish border, which has been effectively closed since 2015.
Recently, however, there is some evidence that Russia might be willing to act more constructively.… Seguir leyendo »
Twenty-year-old Alexis G. was deported in June to Mexico, a country he barely knows. He told Human Rights Watch researchers who interviewed him at a migrant reception center, “My parents brought me [to the United States], and I grew up in [there]. If I were to sing an anthem right now, it would be ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ I don’t know the Mexican anthem.” He is one of millions of people deeply integrated into American life whom President Donald Trump has turned into “priority targets” for deportation, even though they cannot be removed without devastating their American families, businesses, and communities. With Trump due to name a new secretary of Homeland Security to replace John Kelly, these cruel policies should face renewed scrutiny during his successor’s confirmation hearings.… Seguir leyendo »
La democracia debe estar basada en los derechos humanos. Para muchos resulta obvio pero, cada vez más, vemos cómo en Europa hay quienes sugieren que la democracia se limita simplemente a ganar las elecciones para luego hacer lo que se considera que quieren los votantes. Para ellos, la democracia se convierte en una especie de dictadura de la mayoría.
Obviamente, el gobierno debe reflejar las preferencias de la mayoría, expresadas en la celebración de elecciones periódicas, libres y justas, pero su acción también debe quedar limitada por la salvaguarda de los derechos humanos y el Estado de derecho. Hay ciertas cosas que un gobierno debería tener prohibido hacer, incluso si la mayoría de los votantes las avalan, como imponer la pena de muerte, encarcelar a personas por motivos políticos, limitar su capacidad para expresarse y reunirse libremente o discriminarlas por motivos de género, raza, etnia, religión u orientación sexual.… Seguir leyendo »
Edward J. Snowden, the American who has probably left the biggest mark on public policy debates during the Obama years, is today an outlaw. Mr. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed to journalists secret documents detailing the United States’ mass surveillance programs, faces potential espionage charges, even though the president has acknowledged the important public debate his revelations provoked.
Mr. Snowden’s whistle-blowing prompted reactions across the government. Courts found the government wrong to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act to justify mass phone data collection. Congress replaced that law with the USA Freedom Act, improving transparency about government surveillance and limiting government power to collect certain records.… Seguir leyendo »
Edward Snowden es el estadounidense que probablemente haya dejado la huella más profunda en el debate político durante los años del gobierno de Obama.
Snowden, quien dejó la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad tras entregar documentos secretos que detallaban los programas de vigilancia masiva de Estados Unidos a varios periodistas, se enfrenta a una acusación por espionaje aunque el propio presidente ha reconocido que sus revelaciones desataron un debate público importante.
Las filtraciones de Snowden provocaron reacciones en todos los niveles del gobierno. La justicia decidió que el gobierno no debía utilizar la Patriot Act para justificar la recopilación masiva de datos.… Seguir leyendo »
Los bloques de derechos humanos que construyan a toda sociedad democrática deben ser las ideas, el respeto, la apreciación a las diferencias y el trato cortés con el que queremos que nos traten a nosotros. Sin embargo, actualmente, estos valores están bajo ataque con una intensidad mayor que en cualquier otro momento de las últimas décadas.
En Europa, –pese a que Austria parece haber evitado un potencial desastre en sus elecciones presidenciales– líderes como el húngaro Viktor Orbán y el polaco Jaroslaw Kaczyński hablan abiertamente de la construcción de una democracia “no liberal”: una que carece de los mecanismos de control y supervisión del poder ejecutivo, incluyendo la protección de los derechos humanos.… Seguir leyendo »
Las conversaciones de paz sirias que, según lo programado, se reanudarán en Ginebra el 25 de enero tendrán lugar en un marco que se fijó en Viena en octubre. Estos principios, acordados por los actores extranjeros más importantes en la guerra de Siria, incluyen un compromiso con una gobernancia secular, la eventual derrota del Estado Islámico (ISIS) y otros grupos terroristas, la preservación de las fronteras de preguerra de Siria, la conservación de sus instituciones estatales y la protección de grupos minoritarios.
Lo que no incluyen es un esfuerzo por abordar el mayor obstáculo para una paz duradera: los ataques en curso contra civiles y otras atrocidades que están agudizando las divisiones entre las facciones sirias que, llegado el caso, tendrán que gobernar de manera conjunta.… Seguir leyendo »
As the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, commits horrendous videotaped executions, it might seem to pose the greatest threat to Syrian civilians. In fact, that ignoble distinction belongs to the barrel bombs being dropped by the military of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. The Islamic State has distracted us from this deadly reality.
Barrel bombs are improvised weapons: oil drums or similar canisters filled with explosives and metal fragments. They are dropped without guidance from helicopters hovering just above antiaircraft range, typically hitting the ground with huge explosions and the widespread diffusion of deadly shrapnel. They pulverize neighborhoods, destroy entire buildings and leave broad strips of death and destruction.… Seguir leyendo »
The primary international treaty against torture, the Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994, contains two key requirements. First, it bans torture, without exception, as well as other inhumane treatment. Second, it requires that torturers be prosecuted.
President Obama has been firm in stopping torture. On his second day in office, he ordered an end to the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — a euphemism for torture — and the closure of the secret CIA detention centers where torture was carried out.
But Obama has utterly failed in the second requirement. He has flatly refused to investigate the torture, let alone prosecute those responsible.… Seguir leyendo »
The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid its recurrence. With the truth now told about this blatantly illegal policy, President Barack Obama has a chance to reverse his misguided refusal to prosecute the officials who authorized the torture, ending the impunity that sets a horrible precedent for future United States presidents and governments worldwide.
There will undoubtedly be much debate about its finding that torture did not “work” — that it produced little if any intelligence of value that was not or could not have been obtained by lawful means.… Seguir leyendo »
By most measures, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is the gold standard for international justice.
With 69 convictions, it has brought to justice many of the people behind the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s Balkan wars — the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II. Some three million people were forcibly displaced across the region and well over 100,000 killed in Bosnia alone, including nearly 8,000 murdered in the genocide centered on the town of Srebrenica that began 18 years ago Thursday.
But as the tribunal winds down, it has suddenly established a precedent that, unless changed, could cripple future efforts to prosecute senior officials responsible for human rights crimes.… Seguir leyendo »
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making waves. Known for his aggressive efforts to revive Japan’s economy, his nationalist rhetoric and his openness to military strength, he is also pushing Japan toward a new assertiveness on human rights.
Despite a vibrant democracy at home, the diplomats who guide Japan’s foreign policy are famous for their caution on human rights. To avoid interrupting friendly relations with other countries, harming Japan’s economic interests or risking criticism of Japan’s war record, they discuss human rights, if at all, only quietly, behind closed doors. Tokyo generally votes with its Western allies on human rights matters at the United Nations, but almost never takes the initiative, fearful of sticking its neck out.… Seguir leyendo »
The Syrian people are caught in a horrible downward spiral. The government’s slaughter seems only to intensify as President Bashar al-Assad pursues a ruthless strategy of draining the sea to get the fish — attacking civilians so they will flee and leave the armed opposition isolated.
Meanwhile, the sprawling collection of militias that constitute the armed opposition includes some that are themselves torturing and executing prisoners and promoting sectarian strife. While not on a par with the government-directed slaughter, their abuses encourage Syria’s minorities to stick with the murderous Assad rather than risk an uncertain future under rebel rule.
The Syrian National Coalition was created to provide a unified command structure that could replace Assad, rein in abusive rebel forces, promote minority rights and pursue a transition that left the state sufficiently intact to avoid a chaotic collapse.… Seguir leyendo »
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, who died last week after a long illness, liked to portray his country’s leadership as collective. But there was never any doubt about who was in charge.
As dictators go, he had much going for him. Stunningly smart, strategic, practical, he cared about his country and, by all appearances, resisted the kind of graft and corruption that has plagued many African nations. During his rule, Ethiopia’s economy expanded significantly, and he played an important role in the wider region.
But Meles’ death points up the limitations of autocratic rule. Because he failed to establish the rule of law and set up strong democratic institutions, Ethiopia is likely to face a period of uncertainty, and possibly one of serious upheaval.… Seguir leyendo »
As representatives of about 60 countries and international organizations gather in Chicago for the NATO summit, much of the focus will be on who pays for Afghan security forces in the years ahead. This is an important question, particularly since hundreds of thousands of unpaid soldiers, police and paramilitaries could wreak havoc on the country. But my recent trip to Afghanistan convinced me that the Afghan government and its external supporters need to grapple with a much larger question: What kind of Afghanistan will emerge as NATO withdraws by the end of 2014?
Much has improved over the past 10 years since the overthrow of the Taliban regime.… Seguir leyendo »
On September 11, 2001, I sat in my office in the Empire State Building, then New York City’s third tallest building, with a direct view of the two tallest, the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Shortly after the second jet crashed into them, I evacuated the building, aware that it might easily be targeted as well.
A neighbor, the father of three, died in the World Trade Center, and my city was traumatized. It was thus with a great personal interest that I looked forward to the alleged masterminds of this horrendous crime being brought to justice. But as I sat in the Guantánamo courtroom this weekend for the arraignment of the five leading suspects, I couldn’t help but feel cheated.… Seguir leyendo »
The Netanyahu government is doing everything it can to interpret a recent Washington Post op-ed article by Justice Richard Goldstone as vindication of Israel’s conduct in the 2008-09 Gaza conflict. It is nothing of the sort. Israel’s reluctance to confront that reality finds a parallel in its refusal to date to conduct credible investigations into the serious violations of the laws of war that it committed in Gaza. The Goldstone article does not relieve it of the obligation to pursue those investigations.
As is well known, Goldstone led a UN commission that issued a detailed and damning report on the Gaza war, finding that both Israeli and Hamas forces committed war crimes.… Seguir leyendo »
When the White House invited me to the state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao, I knew that I was being used as a symbol — to signal a tougher approach on human rights. The Obama administration was widely seen as having flubbed the November 2009 summit in China. In the lead-up to his visit, President Obama had refused to meet the Dalai Lama, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had insisted that human rights «can’t interfere» with other U.S. interests in China. The administration hoped this soft approach would win points that could be cashed in at the summit, but instead it looked weak and unprincipled.… Seguir leyendo »