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Cardin seeks review of reported plans to hold some Guantanamo detainees indefinitely

January 23, 2010 1 comment

 WASHINGTON, D.C (Press Release)– U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (Democrat-Maryland), chairman of the Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, on Friday called for a careful examination of the Administration’s plans for the indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees. He released the following statement:
 
“One year ago today, President Obama ordered the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.   I commended the President because Guantánamo Bay clearly represents a failed system of justice. The decision to close Guantánamo Bay made us stronger as a nation and it strengthened our relationships with our allies. We told the world that the rule of law was once again paramount in the U.S. and that we, as a nation, will abide by our international obligations.   Moreover, it will deprive our enemies of a key recruiting tool.”
 
“Today, the Administration has taken a major step toward the ultimate closure of the Guantánamo Bay facility by completing a review of all pending cases. Early media reports indicate that the Presidential Task Force handling the reviews will recommend upwards of 50 detainees should be held indefinitely, while nearly three dozen should be prosecuted in either civilian or military courts and another 110 should be released overseas.  Congress has a responsibility to carefully review the legal framework used to make these determinations.  I look forward to working with the Administration as we explore these issues together in such a way that can expedite the closure of the Guantánamo Bay facility. Further delays would not be helpful to our national security or our worldwide efforts to combat terrorists like al-Qaeda.”
 
In July 2009, Senator Cardin chaired a hearing entitled Prosecuting Terrorists: Civilian and Military Trials for GTMO and Beyond”with representatives of the Departments of Justice and Defense, along with other legal experts, to examine how terrorists currently being held by the United States and those captured in the future might be prosecuted, what type of legal protections may be needed in both civilian and military courts, and how both civilian and military courts are prepared to handle.

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Preceding provided by Senator Cardin

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U.S. Senators urge Uganda not to criminalize homosexuality

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment
WA SHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)—U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, both Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 10 other Senators today urged Ugandan President Yoweri Musseveni to block enactment of a law that would criminalize homosexuality and codify prejudice against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered and HIV-positive Ugandans.

The bill, which if passed would impose sentences as severe as life in prison or death, runs counter to global declarations of universal human rights and efforts to expand tolerance and health assistance in Africa and worldwide. In addition to Senators Cardin and Durbin, the letter was also signed by Democratic  Senators Patty Murray of Washington,  Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Mark Udall of Colorado, Barbara Boxer of California, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii,  Diane Feinstein of California, and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. 

 
“Legislating prejudice is wrong for any government in any country. President Musseveni must take any and all steps available to end this serious breach of human rights and basic tolerance,” said Senator Cardin, who also serves as chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. “Ugandans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or HIV-positive, should not live in fear or be punished for simply living their lives.”
 
“If this proposal carries the day, their government will undermine years of positive Ugandan leadership combating HIV infections, and instead, will begin pursuing a policy of intolerance,” Durbin, Chairman of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, said. “I urge President Musseveni and the Ugandan Parliament, to reject this legislation outright and hope that they, along with the world at large, will rethink policies that institutionalize fear and bigotry.”
 
 
The full text of the letter is below.  


The Honorable Yoweri Museveni
President, Republic of Uganda
c/o of the Embassy of Uganda
5911 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We write to express our deep concern regarding the anti-homosexuality bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament. 
 
This troubling legislation would sanction prejudice toward people in Uganda based solely on sexual orientation, or even HIV status. This is in great contrast to trends toward greater tolerance in the global community.  By creating harsh penalties for homosexuality, this bill not only codifies prejudice, but could also foster an increase in violence towards people simply based on sexual orientation.
 
The legislation also requires persons “in authority,” which could include government officials, employers, clergy, or others, to provide information about suspected violations of the Act. It further criminalizes the work done by human rights and health organizations that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, claiming those actions to be “homosexual promotion.” Certainly these are not the types of actions to be encouraged as the world strives to reverse violence, poverty, and human suffering caused by divisiveness and repression. 
 
While your nation has been a leader in Africa on many fronts, including the reduction of HIV infections, this proposed legislation will be a glaring setback in Uganda’s human rights standing. Unfortunately, even the mere threat of the new and severe penalties for homosexual behavior suggested in this bill, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, could easily add to an already intolerant atmosphere in Uganda based on sexual orientation. 
 
We understand you have recently raised concerns over the legislation and urge you to do to everything within your power to block its advancement. We look forward to continue the process of building a strong and long-lasting relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Uganda.
 
Sincerely,
 
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Senator Richard J. Durbin
Senator Daniel Akaka
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Mark Udall
Senator Diane Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer

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Preceding provided by Senator Cardin