Kenneth Roth – USA

Linked with Human Rights Watch HRW, with Cop violence up due to the culture of impunity; with After Guantánamo; and with The price of rights.

Since 1993, Kenneth Roth has been the executive directof or Human Rights Watch, an NGO that investigates, reports on, and seeks to curb human rights abuses in over 70 countries. He was the deputy director of the organization from 1987-1993, before which he worked as a private litigator and served as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. During his time as Executive Director, Human Rights Watch has quadrupled its size, expanded its geographic reach, and developed new programs specific to issues such as refugees, children’s rights, AIDS, gay rights, counter-terrorism and international justice … (full text).

… Roth was born to a family of German refugees of the Third Reich. He studied at Brown University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts, and at Yale Law School, where he obtained a Juris Doctor. He worked as a private litigator, before working as a federal prosecutor for the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He also investigated the Iran-Contra affair. Roth started working on Human Rights in 1981, following the declaration of martial law in Poland. He was later interested in the Haiti regime. Roth held the position of deputy director of Human Rights Watch between 1987 and 1993, and has been executive director since 1993 … (full text).

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Kenneth Roth – USA

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… HRW’s Ken Roth in his opening remarks about the Congo criticized what he called the three countries best equipped to go into the Kivus: France, the UK and Germany. Inner City Press asked why he had not even bothered to mention the U.S.  Roth agreed, saying it is sad one does not even think of the U.S. for peacekeeping any more. He said that among the victims of the war in Iraq are people left unprotected in Sudan, the Congo and Somalia. This implies that the U.S. would have participated in those UN Missions but for occupying Iraq and Afghanistan … (full text, December 10, 2008).

UK government urged to protect civilians in Congo, 22 November 2008.

He says: … “The prohibition on torture is one of the basic, absolute prohibitions that exists in international law. It exists in time of peace as well as in time of war. It exists regardless of the severity of a security threat. And the only other comparable prohibition that I can think of is the prohibition on attacking innocent civilians in time of war or through terrorism. If you’re going to have a torture warrant, why not create a terrorism warrant? Why not go in and allow terrorists to come forward and make their case for why terrorism should be allowed? … and: OK, there is no moral or legal difference between torturing yourself and subcontracting torture to somebody else. They’re equally absolutely prohibited … and: Once you open the door to torture, once you start legitimizing it in any way, you have broken the absolute taboo. President Bush had it right in his State of the Union address when he was describing various forms of torture by Saddam Hussein and he said, “If this isn’t evil, then evil has no meaning” … (full interview text, March 4, 2003).

“Turkey needs to tackle its violent and trigger-happy policing culture. That can only happen if the criminal justice system holds the police to account for these serious crimes.” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. The 80-page report, “Closing Ranks against Accountability – Barriers to Tackling Police Violence in Turkey, December 5, 2008″ documents 28 cases of police abuse against members of the public since the start of 2007, and examines official investigations of police conduct in those instances. (See all HRW reports and click on Issue and Country).

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… “We are proud to accept this prize on behalf of the human rights movement,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Governments are always tempted to violate human rights, but 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the human rights movement is now able to ensure that abusers pay a hefty price.” The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights … (full text, November 26, 2008).

UK government urged to protect civilians in Congo, 22 November 2008.

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s persistent failure to penalise police brutality has led to an increase in cases of violence by officers, including fatal shootings, since 2007, a leading US-based human rights group said this week. “Historically, law enforcement officials were rarely if ever held to account … today, despite increased legal safeguards, law enforcement officers who flout them can still enjoy effective impunity when they are alleged to have abused or even unlawfully killed victims,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. The findings came in an 80-page report that examines 28 cases of police abuse in the EU-hopeful country. These cases include fatal and non-fatal shootings, ill-treatment and excessive use of force against demonstrators, and ill-treatment during or following identity checks. HRW said the problem was exacerbated by changes made to the law on police powers in June 2007, which give police excessively broad discretion to use lethal force and encourage arbitrary stops and searches by police … (full text, Dec. 8, 2008).

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… Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth says: “Free trade should be premised on fundamental respect for human rights, especially the rights of the workers producing the goods to be traded. In Colombia, workers cannot exercise their rights without fear of being threatened or killed. Without concrete and sustained results in addressing this basic problem, ongoing anti-union violence and impunity would, as President-elect Barack Obama has noted, make a “mockery” of labor protections in the agreement. We believe that Colombia should be in compliance with such protections before the accord takes effect, as has generally been demanded with FTA commercial provisions” … (full text, Dec 5, 2008).

… Fiji’s military-backed rulers are determined to portray an image of a country “moving forward” towards a stable, democratic society. But as Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote in an essay titled Despots masquerading as democrats: “Determined not to let mere facts stand in the way, these rulers have mastered the art of democratic rhetoric that bears little relationship to their practice of governing.”  We must not forget that rights flourish best within a democratic framework. For example, if the right to freedom of expression is curtailed how can people be free to speak out against social injustice that the military-led regime claims to be addressing? … (full text, December 10, 2008).

… As Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth tells The Wall Street Journal: “That’s the right thing to do, because if the Security Council were to succumb to Mr. Bashir’s blackmail, it would only encourage more of the same from every tyrant or warlord who might fall into the ICC’s sights” During his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama pledged “unstinting resolve” to end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and nailed Bashir’s government as being responsible. Before taking office, he could signal to Bashir that he, too, will veto any Security Council resolution to suspend execution of the warrants … (full text, Dec 09, 2008).


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