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Sunday, Dec 21st

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US to defend solitary confinement use before UN

solitary confinementOn Nov. 12 and 13, the practice of holding incarcerated people in prolonged isolation will come under international scrutiny when the U.S. government goes before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, part of a periodic review to assess the country’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and the first U.S. review under Barack Obama’s administration.

This year the 10-person U.N. committee has repeated its concerns about imposing prolonged isolation on prisoners. In a list of issues to be addressed with the U.S. — including the use of secret detention facilities, Guantánamo Bay and the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the committee has asked the government to “describe steps taken to improve the extremely harsh regime imposed on detainees in ‘Supermax security prisons,’ in particular the practice of prolonged isolation.”

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Uganda planning new anti-gay law despite opposition

Uganda gay lawsUganda plans to introduce a new anti-gay law that will withstand any legal challenge, a government minister has told the BBC.

It will not explicitly refer to homosexuality, but will rely on the penal code which prescribes a life sentence for "unnatural acts", he said.  Activists say the plan is more draconian than anti-gay legislation annulled by the courts in August.

The US and other donors cut funding to Uganda in protest against the law.

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Palestinians remind world of their own wall

Palestinian wallPalestinian youth have dug a hole in Israel’s separation wall with the Palestinian territories, as a symbolic gesture to mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Armed with hammers, a group of Palestinian activists on Saturday created a cavity in the wall that crosses through the West Bank village of Bir Nabala, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, braving tight Israeli security measures.

"It doesn't matter how high the barriers will be, they will fall. Like the Berlin Wall fell - The Palestinian wall will fall," the Palestinian activists who organised the event wrote in a statement according to the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency.

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Judge upholds Guantánamo’s treatment of hunger-striker waiting to go

Gitmo hunger strikerA federal judge has refused to intervene in the forced-feeding of a hunger-striking prisoner awaiting his transfer from the war-on-terror prison, declaring that U.S. military medical staff do not show deliberate indifference to the health and welfare of long-held captive Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

“The evidence produced at the hearing regarding pain was very mixed,” Judge Gladys Kessler wrote in her 20-page decision of the up-to twice-daily insertion of a feeding tube into the 43-year-old Syrian’s stomach through his nose. “There is evidence in the record, including Mr. Dhiab’s medical chart, that he often tolerates the procedure without complaints of pain or significant discomfort.”

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Arizona's immigrant smuggling law struck down

Arizona immigration  lawA federal judge has struck down Arizona's 2005 immigrant smuggling law on the grounds that it's trumped by federal statutes.

The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton marked the latest in a string of restrictions placed by the courts on Arizona's effort to get local police to confront illegal immigration.

Bolton ruled the state law deprives federal authorities of their exclusive right to prosecute smuggling crimes.

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Thousands of child migrants still lack lawyers

child migrants in USNewly released government data show an immigration court system under stress as judges face pressure to expedite deportation cases even as thousands of child migrants – many under 14 and with no grasp of English — are still without attorneys to represent them.

The fast pace of arraignments has been quite extraordinary, with 11,392 master calendar hearings held from July 18 to October 21 or more than 800 a week. Of the 1542 removal orders issued in the same time period, 94 percent fell on children having no counsel.

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The Case of the Dallas 6: Torture and Retaliation Against Prisoner Whistleblowers

Dallas 6 trialImagine sitting in a windowless 6-foot by 9-foot room the size of a bathroom for 23 hours a day, unable to communicate with family or anyone on the outside. The lights are on 24/7. The only drinking water you have is brown from rust. You constantly hear mentally ill people screaming and harming themselves. Within days of this torturous isolation you may begin to feel mental breakdown. Is this Guantánamo? Abu Ghraib? A torture chamber in some distant land? A torture chamber, yes, but a homegrown one.

This is solitary confinement in a state prison near you. The United States has many like the one in Dallas, Pennsylvania, a modern day dungeon, which imprisons people for years to face abuse and violence out of public view by guards paid with our tax dollars. But men inside also defend themselves and, even locked within their cells, try to fight back. One of those men was my son Carrington Keys.

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