[JURIST] President Barack Obama announced Friday that the United States will sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [official website; JURIST news archive]. At a celebration commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 [DOJ materials], Obama said that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice [official profile] has been instructed to sign the convention next week. After the United States signs the convention, it must still be ratified [Senate materials] by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The US move was met with widespread approval [HRW news release; IDRM press release] by international and human rights organizations, as the US Bush administration declined to sign the convention [JURIST report] at the time it was adopted, citing what it characterized as sufficient protective laws already in effect in the country.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities entered into force [JURIST report] in May 2008, and has been signed by 140 members and ratified by 60. The landmark treaty protects the 650 million persons living with disabilities worldwide [UN fact sheet] and holds that all disabled people should be treated as full-fledged citizens and completely integrated into society. The treaty also includes an Optional Protocol [Protocol text] granting individuals the right to petition a committee of experts for violations of the Convention after all national procedures have been exhausted.
[JURIST] The Obama administration is considering transferring more Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US, according to testimony [schedule] Friday by US Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson [official profile] to the the House Armed Services Committee [official website]. Some detainees could be transferred for long-term incarceration and others for prosecution, but none would be released domestically. Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani [JURIST news archive] was transferred [JURIST report] to New York in June to face criminal charges for alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya which killed 224 people. In a related development Friday, the Department of Justice petitioned the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official websites] for permission to continue to detain Mohammed Jawad [ACLU materials; JURIST news archive] while the department determines if he can be tried in a US-based federal court on criminal charges.
Johnson and Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris [official profile] urged Congress to pass proposed reforms to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] and detainee policy. Both men faced criticism for failing to deliver a detailed plan on closing the Guantanamo Bay detainee facilities. Earlier this week their taskforce delayed release [JURIST news report] of a report on the matter after failing to meet a six-month reporting deadline, and instead presented an interim report [text, PDF; prosecution protocol, PDF].
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