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UN rights investigator says US committing violations

[JURIST] An investigator for the UN Human Rights Council [official website] said Friday that the US has committed human rights violations in its interrogations of terror suspects and by putting questionable restrictions on immigration. In preliminary report from what will be a larger document due to the Council later this year, UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] said at the end of a US visit [press release] that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the US to extract information from alleged terrorists amounted to torture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] treaty, to which the US is signatory. US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad [official profile] countered that the techniques used were not torture because they are done "under US laws and procedures and legitimate decision-making authorities." Scheinen said that these laws, mostly enacted since 9/11, have undermined civil liberties, but noted that the US should not be regarded as an enemy to human rights, especially in regard to press freedom.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International [advocacy website] in its 2007 annual report on human rights [text] said that the "war on terror" has eroded human rights [JURIST report] in the US and other western nations, with Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan characterizing it as an attempt "to roll back some fundamental principles of human rights." Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

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