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Wednesday, Aug 27th

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British security laws are eroding human rights, says UN

A report from the UN's committee on human rights hit out at Britain's terror and libel laws and use of the Offical Secrets Act.

The UN said provisions under the Terrorism Act 2006 covering encouragement of terrorism are too "broad and vague" which could infringe on freedom of expression.

Under the new law people convicted of encouragement of terrorism face up to seven years in jail even if they did not intend to incite violence.

And it said the use of the Official Secrets Act was gagging civil servants from bringing issues of genuine public interest to wider attention even when national security was not at risk. 

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Brig. gen. removed from 2nd Gitmo trial

A military judge on Thursday barred a Pentagon official from taking part in a second war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay, providing more ammunition for detainee lawyers who allege that political interference taints the proceedings.

The ruling will fuel defense challenges in other trials at the U.S. Navy base, where a former chief prosecutor and defense lawyers have accused Air Force Brig Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the tribunals, of demanding that certain cases be pursued over others based on political considerations. 

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Israel's front-line thugs

Of late, there has been a steady stream of brutal assaults carried out by settlers against their Palestinian neighbours in the West Bank, right under the noses of the lackadaisical army. The phenomenon is, sadly, nothing new; what has brought the story back into the spotlight are the efforts of human rights groups, such as B'Tselem to film the violence and document the shocking reality on the ground – which is why, it seems, the authorities are so keen to clamp down on their activity in the region.

However, the settlers don't confine their vindictive and vicious attacks to Palestinians; they are not averse to attacking their Jewish peers either. Two recent incidents amply demonstrated the extent to which the Wild West Bank has become bandit country, with no sheriff's posse daring to stand up to the rogue elements holding the region at ransom.

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Settler gang pushes Palestinian boy off roof

Beatings of Palestinians by radical religious settlers, protected by the Israeli army and police, are a common occurrence in this dangerous city, where Jewish settlements nudge into the heart of a community of about 120,000 Arabs.

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Fury after Israeli officer in charge of prisoner's shooting is 'reassigned'

Outraged Israeli human rights organisations have united in challenging the military's decision to invoke only minor penalties against a senior officer over the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner by a soldier under his command.

Human rights group B'Tselem, which exposed the incident – shown on Israeli television after being videoed by a Palestinian woman in the village – said yesterday: "The army treats the shooting at point-blank range of a bound man [only] as inappropriate behaviour. It disgraces the values which it pretends to uphold."

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Bin Laden's driver gets 66 months confinement

A six-member U.S. military jury Thursday sentenced Osama bin Laden's driver to 66 months in prison.

With credit extended by the judge for time already served, that likely means he will serve five months before being sent back to the normal population. Jurors deliberated just 70 minutes after a sentencing hearing in which Salim Hamdan, 40, expressed regret and apologized for any pain his actions caused victims of al Qaeda.

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Doubt cast on U.S. version of terror suspect's arrest

As U.S. authorities took a purported al Qaida operative to court on attempted murder and assault charges Tuesday in New York, her family, the Afghan police and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan cast doubts on the accuracy of the American story.

Siddiqui's family, meanwhile, alleges that she'd been in secret custody since she disappeared five years ago from the Pakistani city of Karachi with her three children, and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent organization, called the U.S. account a "cock and bull story."

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