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Annan defends UN rights chief criticism of US renditions

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] Thursday defended contentious statements made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile; JURIST news archive] on US terrorist rendition practices [JURIST archive], saying through a spokesperson that she has his "full confidence" as a "highly respected jurist," and that "international civil servants should be allowed to speak freely" on their areas of expertise. Arbour Wednesday criticized US rendition practices [JURIST report] as having a "corrosive effect on the global ban on terror," before specifically condemning "the use of secret detention facilities and the seeking of diplomatic assurances to avoid what would otherwise be the total prohibition on rendering, surrendering, deporting, turning back people to countries where they may face the risk of torture." Arbour also took Washington to task for breaching the 1984 Convention Against Torture [text] it signed, which "prohibits recourse to torture, cruel degrading and other inhumane treatment at the instigation of agents of the state for the purpose of obtaining intelligence or other types of information." US ambassador to the UN John Bolton [official profile] immediately castigated Arbour after her remarks, saying it was "inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second guess the conduct of what we are engaged in the war on terror with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers." Watch recorded video of Bolton's remarks. Annan's spokesperson mentioned that Annan plans on discussing the issue with Bolton "at an early date." Aljazeera has more.

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