UN rights chief calls for US to close secret prisons

UN rights chief calls for US to close secret prisons

[JURIST] President Bush's announcement that 14 terrorism suspects have been transferred from secret CIA prisons to Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] is "significant" but not sufficient, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] said through a spokesman Friday. Instead, Arbour renewed a demand that the prisons be "completely abolished." Last year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended Arbour after the rights commissioner criticized the alleged abduction and secret detention of suspected terrorists [JURIST reports] – a practice known as extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] – as having a "corrosive effect on the global ban on terror." At that time Arbour was publicly taken to task [recorded video] by US UN Ambassador John Bolton, who said 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." President Bush for the first time confirmed the existence of secret CIA prisons [JURIST report] during a speech [White House transcript] on Wednesday.

In Friday's statement, Arbour also acknowledged revisions to the Army Field Manual that apply Geneva Conventions protection to all US military detainees [JURIST report], but she noted that CIA interrogation procedures remain secret. Reuters has more.