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For all his promises — and a Nobel Peace Prize — the Obama presidency delivered more hope than change

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear a new hostility to human rights on the part of the United States. From his divisive rhetoric about minorities to his embrace of autocrats abroad, there is plenty to worry about.  Trump…
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.
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The systems of surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed in both the UK and US depend on law for their justification, and are facing legal challenges in both countries’ legislatures. This might give the impression that, whatever the merits of these…
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One month after the worst terrorist attack in Europe since Anders Breivik’s murder of 77 people in Norway, the contours of the response are becoming clear. Three areas stand out – new counterterrorism laws and policies; the related, though distinct,…
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Listening to the debate in Europe on the threat from the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and returning fighters feels like Groundhog Day. Its black-and-white presentation, the existential nature of the alleged threat, the notion that governments should…
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It’s been a year now since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the massive US and UK spying operations sent much of the world into a tailspin. The US has taken some modest steps toward reform. But the initial steps taken across the Atlantic only serve to…
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Obama says the U.S. won't spy on foreign leaders — but what about spying for them?

President Barack Obama appeared to have good news on Jan. 17 for foreign citizens appalled by months of revelations of U.S. surveillance overseas. The United States, he assured them in his much-awaited speech on new controls on snooping by the…
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There have been repeated claims of UK complicity in the alleged torture of individuals detained abroad. The government’s latest move in the saga does not suggest a desire to get to the bottom of them. In July 2010, the British prime minister, David…
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UK plan to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan

Listening to Theresa May’s statement to Parliament today, it seems the British government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan to face terrorism charges. A new treaty with Jordan aims to address the risk that Abu…
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Joseph Kony, Thomas Lubanga and Charles Taylor are just the tip of the iceberg. The use of children as soldiers extends far beyond Africa. Last week in The Hague, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, found the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty…
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If Theresa May is serious about protecting Abu Qatada, she must press for real change in Jordan

Torture occupies a special place in international law – it is banned at all times and in all places, no exceptions. Most countries, including the UK and Jordan, have signed up to the UN Convention Against Torture, which means they agree not only to the…
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The implications of Mousa's death in British custody stretch wider and higher up than the inquiry has been able to reach

The name Baha Mousa has become the most famous in the history of abuses by the British army in Iraq. Thursday's publication of the report of the inquiry into his death in British custody in Basra in 2003 is a remarkable conclusion to the persistent…
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William Hague is right to put human rights at the heart of the UK's foreign policy – for practical as well as ethical reasons

The foreign secretary William Hague said last week that human rights should be the "irreducible core" of the UK's foreign policy. But he did not spell out why, or what that would mean in practice. Ethical arguments aside, there are three practical…
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Torture is prohibited under international law, at anytime and anywhere. No exceptions are allowed. Yet the UK, France and Germany are engaged in ongoing counterterrorism cooperation with foreign intelligence services in countries that routinely use…
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For months, Libya has been preparing the celebration for the 40th anniversary of Col. Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's coup, on September 1. Scotland's release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in connection with the Lockerbie bombing of 1988, was…
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President Obama visited the CIA headquarters this week to try to reassure staff that their intelligence-gathering work would not be compromised by the release of the so-called ‘torture’ memos. But the revelations cast a shadow over the work of the US inte

Last week's release of four top-secret United States Justice Department memos on torture demonstrates the readiness of the new administration to swap the secrecy and lies that have surrounded the treatment of terrorism suspects by the US Government in…
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This Wednesday, unless the UK foreign secretary takes rapid action, Britain’s High Court will hold a hearing to assess whether the UK government should be ordered to hand over secret documents to lawyers for a Guantanamo detainee. The detainee in question…
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The British trained the Kenyan army in counter-terrorism tactics that are being used with devastating force against its own people

Phyllis Kipteo still does not know why Kenyan paratroopers dragged her husband from their home in the middle of the night four months ago. The following morning she went to the military camp at Chepkube in Kenya's Mount Elgon district close to the border…
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It is not just in the United States that aggressive counterterrorism measures have raised serious human rights concerns. This month, the UK House of Lords began debating a draft counterterrorism law that would institute a number of harmful proposals,…