Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Council of Europe commitment to human rights in doubt after ruling in Abu Hamsa case

The European Court of Human Rights has cast the entire notion of a Council of Europe and what it stands for into doubt today with its controversial ruling that allows for  sending people not charged with violent crimes to a potential brutal regime of solitary confinement for life , without human contact or exercise,  in USA super max prisons.

The European Court of Human Rights has allowed for people to be sent for permanent incarceration in isolation, in a concrete room, 7ft by 12ft , where the only light comes from a 10cm by 40 cm "window" and all exercise must be in a concrete bunker like swimming pool after invasive and  sexually abusive strip searches. The cells and exercise facilities are designed to disorientate the prisoner and no maximum tariff is set for sentences.

Most prisoners spend up to 23 hours a day in their cells, every minute, every meal. The window in their cell is blocked so they can't see the mountains. Inmates can watch a 12" black and white television or read books to pass the time. And if they behave, they may get limited exercise in a one-man recreation pen. 

 The fact that the European Court of Human Rights fails to regard such incarceration conditions as a violation of human rights or indeed torture must be regarded in the most serious way as a violation of the notion that the European Union is an institution worthy of support or indeed continuation.

The fact that the Council of Europe now allows for barbaric treatment of human beings to be legal negates the ethos of European Convention on Human Rights

There is now a determined rot at the heart of Europe both economically and legally.

Life in the prison the  Council of Europe  says is humane includes humiliating strip searches on each movement of a prisoner even to exercise. eg
Yousef has lived in the ADX for 11 years, sacrificing to live by his own code. "Something as simple as recreating, he would have to be strip searched to go recreate. He chose not to do that because of his belief that it would be inappropriate for us to show his body, or see his body," Hood says.
"And so he stays in the cell?" Pelley asks.
"Never been out, to my knowledge," Hood says

and forced feeding60 Minutes has been told that there have been frequent hunger strikes among the Islamic terrorist inmates inside Supermax and to keep the inmates alive there are often force feedings. That's when an inmate is restrained and liquid nourishment is poured down a tube in his nose. We're told there have been about a dozen hunger strikers and one of them used to be Osama bin Laden's secretary. 
Former Warden Robert Hood told us that he supervised many of these feedings. "I probably conducted, authorized, conducted 350, maybe 400 of involuntary feedings. Again, not…individuals, because you could have one person, three meals a day for, you know, two months. That adds up," he tells Pelley

This is what the European Court of Human Rights now deems humane. Some are even further detained without even human contact of any kind because of "a look in their eyes"
As strict as that seems, 60 Minutes has been told there is an even higher level of confinement, sort of an "ultramax" inside Supermax. It's a group of cells where there's virtually no human contact, not even with guards and there are only two prisoners are considered so dangerous that they're locked in this place that's known as "Range 13."
One of them is Tommy Silverstein, who killed a prison guard; the other is World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef. 
Warden Hood says Yousef is on Range 13 for just one reason. "He has that Charlie Manson look," Hood says. "He just has the eyes. He has some charisma about him. He's in uniform. But you know that there's a powerful person that you're looking at."
"You didn't want him in a place where he could give anybody any orders?" Pelley asks.
"True," Hood agrees.
All contact with the outside world and family is rescinded  as in the case of a prisoner never tried for the death of his cellmate in another prison but transferred to ADX Florence, Colorado, 

 Linderman had been in another prison for robbery until his cellmate there was found stabbed to death. Linderman wasn't tried for the murder but they transferred him to the ADX or Supermax. He was released, robbed a bank, and 60 Minutes found him in a Washington State prison.
"How is the ADX different than other lockups you've been in?" Pelley asks.
"Your connections to the outside. Your family. Through phone calls, visits, all those are pretty much stopped at the ADX. There's no comparison," Linderman explains.
"You talk about the brutality of isolation, what do you mean by that?" Pelley asks.
"It breaks down the human spirit. It breaks down the human psyche. It breaks your mind," Linderman says. 
The fact that a European Court of Human Rights can  deem it correct for a person allegedly a fund raiser, a preacher and others against whom there is not even a charge of violence against, to be locked down for their lives in such conditions and deem them to be humane is  beyond being a cause of great concern. It is  a reason to abandon the entire  Council of Europe !

There is nothing to be gained by being part of inhumanity.


According to The Guardian

Prison reformers have long objected to the prolonged use of solitary confinement at the ADX, which in some cases has lasted for more than a decade. David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national prison project, described the conditions as "extraordinarily harsh".
"Solitary confinement, even for a few months, let alone for more than a decade, can be shattering," he said


For this blogger this decision by the European Court of Human Rights indicates that  stronger and more proactive intercession in the political sphere is necessary.
If the European Union has decided to abrogate and turn its back on basic Human Rights then it is the right of all European  citizens to repudiate and resist by all mean necessary the power of injustice and unjust legal practices and decisions.

It is clear that the  Council of Europe  cannot have it both ways. Either it protects its citizens and  residents from abuses or it abrogates its legal rights and can expect  its citizens to defend themselves proactively against torture and violations of human rights which are now allowed by a decision of the  second  highest court in the system created by the European Convention of Human Rights. .

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