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Homeland Security

US Terrorism Prosecutions Rife With Abuse - Report

RIA Novosti

14:12 22/07/2014

MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Human rights abuses have been documented at every stage of federal terrorism investigations in the United States, Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of a report on human rights abuse in terrorism prosecutions, told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

"We documented human rights abuses at every stage of federal terrorism cases, from the FBI's conduct selecting and pursuing a target, to pretrial detention, due process violations at trial, excessive sentences and unfair conditions of confinement post-conviction," she said.

The report "Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions," released on Monday, examines cases throughout the period after September 11, 2001 from initiation of the investigations to post-conviction conditions of confinement.

The report is based on more than 215 interviews with people who have been charged with or convicted of terrorism-related crimes and their families, attorneys, judges, prosecutors, academics and other specialists.

The report reveals that while many prosecutions have targeted individuals involved in terror attacks, others have targeted those who do not seem to have been involved at the time the investigation was initiated. Furthermore, the report suggests that in some cases the FBI created terrorists out of innocent individuals, encouraging the target to act.

The United States is also revealed in the report to have punished behavior that did not indicate any intent to support terrorism and it often obtained evidence through coercion.

US authorities, according to the report, used excessively harsh confinement conditions, including lengthy solitary confinement and severe restrictions on communication.

Parsow went on to mention that they "documented the negative impact these abusive practices have on American Muslim communities", as American Muslims are most frequent targets of the terrorism prosecutions in the United States.

She said that the top three recommendations for the US government, listed in the report, would be to "restrict the use of FBI informants in investigations and ensure they are subject to robust oversight," not to "charge people with providing material support to terrorism based on activity protected under freedom of expression principles," and to "ensure humane prison conditions."

After the events of September 11, 2001, the United States was particularly concerned with shoring up counter-terrorism measures. Some of them drew attention because of their questionable nature in the eyes of the public and organizations, such as Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental international organization whose aim is to defend the rights of people worldwide. It investigates abuses and strives to secure justice. The organization was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in New York.

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