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The Office of the Inspector General Reports
In June 2003, the Office of the care to distinguish between aliens Inspector General (OIG) of the who it actually suspected of hayDepartment of Justice issued a 200- ing a connection to terrorisin as page report, titled "The September 11 opposed to aliens who, while posDetainees: A Review of the Treatment sibly guilty of violating federal of Aliens Held on Immigration immigration law, had no connecCharges in Connection with the tion to terrorism. (June 2003 OIG Investigation of the September 11 Report, 70) Attacks." The report was prompted by complaints made by individuals and The report also addressed the treatment advocacy groups about the September that immigrants received after arrest. 11 detentions and about the secrecy According to the report, immigrants surrounding them.
were refused release on bond, denied
access to counsel and to consular offiBecause the OIG is part of the cials, interrogated about their religious Department of Justice, it had access to and political views, and held in high-level Justice Department officials degrading conditions. In some cases, who had been responsible for the gov- immigrants were verbally and physiernment's immigration and investiga- cally abused. The report stated: tive policies after September 11. The OIG report is the most comprehensive The evidence indicates a pattern report so far issued about the treatment of abuse by some correctional of September 11 detainees.
officers against some September
11 detainees, particularly during The June 2003 OIG report confirmed the first months after the attacks. the allegations that the ACLU and Most detainees we interviewed at other civil rights organizations had the [Metropolitan Detention been raising since the government first Center] alleged that MDC staff began rounding up Muslim immigrants physically abused them. Many after September 11. It found that the also told us that MDC staff ver
were "indiscriminate" and bally abused them with such "haphazard" and that the INS routinely taunts as "Bin Laden Junior" or arrested people who had no connection with threats such as "you will be to criminal activity, let alone terrorism. here for the next 20-25 years like The report stated:
the Cuban people." Although
most correctional officers denied Even in the hectic aftermath of the such physical or verbal abuse, the September 11 attacks, we believe OIG's ongoing investigation of the FBI should have taken more complaints of physical abuse
Clearly, these abuses should never have occurred. That the OIG has issued such a comprehensive and well-researched report will help us ensure that they don't occur again.
*OIG Report, 46.
It is now apparent that the overwhelming Our complaint argues that the roundup of Arab majority of the men who were detained had and Muslim immigrants and their prolonged simply overstayed their visas or committed detention violates human rights principles similar civil immigration infractions that, ordi- found in two important international instrunarily, would not have led to detention at all. ments: "Two years ago, I had hopes. I was okay," Benalla said in an interview given in his 26th •The Universal Declaration of Human month of detention. "Now I lie in my cell and Rights (which the U.S. helped create after think: 'What has become of me?" :
World War IT)
The International Covenant on Civil and A Fight for
Political Rights (whose provisions are
similar to our Bill of Rights) Rights on Two Fronts Since the early days of the government drag documents.
The United States is a signatory to both these nct, the ACLU has relicd on the Cnited States Constitution to fight for the rights of immi
"We want to bring 10 the United Nations the grants unfairly detained. (Our efforts - and the
stories of these individuals and the larger disturbing circumstances that prompted them –
story of what happened to thcsc immigrants are detailed later in this report.)
in the wake of 9/11," said Jameel Jaller, an
attorney at the ACLU's National Office. Now we are complementing that domestic
"And given the scale of what happened and work with an international effort: On behalf of more than a dozen immigrants from scr
its impact across borders, there is a need for
international institutions to look at this cral countries, we are asking the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary through a human rights lens." Detention to rule that the United States gov
Here's why: ernment violated international human rights standards by arbitrarily targeting these men and hundreds of others.
By asking the United Nations to shinc a global
spotlight on thc U.S. government's indiscrimiThe personal stories of many of the people
nate roundup of immigrants, the ACLU warns we represent are recounted in detail in pro
the government that it cannot cscape justice files throughout this report. The information through secrecy. The United States governin these proliles was drawn from ACLU
ment has done everything in its power to hide interviews conducted over the past three
its actions from public view. The government years.
refused to disclose the names of the men il
secretly held, and then deported them before Today, nations are linked more tightly than they could tell their stories. The government
through immigration and commerce. clearly hoped that these immigrants had disapThey should also, we believe, be encouraged to peared forcvcr. But just as the United States is measure their democratic institutions against crossing borders abroad in the name of securian internationally accepted standard of human ty, we will cross borders in the name of justice rights.
to vindicatc human rights abuscs.
Michael Powell, "A Prisoner of Panic Atter 9/11," The Washington Post, Nov. 29, 2003.
An ACLU Report
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
The United Nations Working Group on
the United States was one of the Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) was strongest advocates for the adopestablished by the United Nations
tion of the Universal Commission on Iluman Rights in 1991. and Declaration. (Eleanor Roosevelt is based in Geneva. It is comprised of five was the Chair of the lluman independem experts
judges and other Rights Commission in the comkgal professionals who meet three times mission's first years.) Thanks in a year, each time for tive to eight days. The no small part 10 that advocacy, members of the panel are appointed by the the General Assembly adopted I'N Commissioner of lluman Rights, they the Universal Declaration in reflect the geographic distribution rules
1943. generally followed at the l nited Nations, (For current members, see Office of the
• International Covenant on High Commission for Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights Working Group
Arbitrary The covenant recognizes basic Detention. www.unhchr.ch html menu2:7.6 civil and political rights, includarb det ardinirohim.)
ing the right to cquality before
the law, the right to a presumpThe Working Group exists in order to tion of innocence, and the right investigate allegations of arbitrary not to be detained arbitrarily. detention It is the only non-treaty The covenant entered into force based body whose mandate expressly in 1976; the Cnited States ratiprovides for consideration of com
fied it in 1992. plaints from individuals. Thus, the Working Group's actions are "hased When the Working Group receives a on the right of petition of individuals complaint, it forwards it to the govanywhere in the world." (Secernment concerned and provides that Working Group Arbitrary government with an opportunity to Detention, Fact Sheet No. 26, Section respond. Ordinarily, the government III.)
is asked to respond within 90 days. If
the government responds, the person In order to determine whether or organization that submitted the detention is arbitrary, the Working complaint is given an opportunity to Group looks principally to two doc- rcply. uments;
(lumately, the Working Group issues • Universal Declaration of an opinion declaring that the detention Human Rights In the after- in question is or is not, as the cas math of the Second World War, may be arbitrary.