Thursday, May 22, 2008

US & Somalia Tied for Last Place

To hear some, the USA is the champion of the down-trodden, and the oppressed, the Johnny Appleseed of Democracy. The truth precludes such prideful bumptiousness. In fact, the US is one of the last two states out of 192 to ratify the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. (The other is Somalia.)

The United States has, however, signed two optional protocols on trafficking in children and on children in armed conflict. Very noble of us.

Furthermore, having signed the optional protocols of the Convention, the US has expressed its intention to eventually adopt it completely. Eventually.

What’s stopping the Bushites or the Congress from ratifying this convention? This is a no-brainer. Or should be, even for the half-wits running this farcical fiasco.

According to the Unicef site the Convention is summarized as follows:

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”

“The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have:

1. the right to survival;

2. to develop to the fullest;

3. to protection from harmful influences,

4. abuse and exploitation;

5. the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

The four core principles of the Convention are:

1. non-discrimination;

2. devotion to the best interests of the child;

3. the right to life, survival and development;

4. and respect for the views of the child.

Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services.”

“By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.”

This seems straightforward, proper, just and right. It is the expression of an ideal, one would think, of which all people, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Jew, Animist or Atheist would approve.


190 out 192 nations have ratified it.

What’s stopping the US from ratifying this convention?

Could be that the thousands of youths who have been jailed in US prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo might pose a tough issue to spin-doctor into anything close to resembling sentiments and opinions acceptable to anyone outside the Oval Office or Fox News.

The ‘Real World’, in other words.

Since the March 2003 invasion, the United States has detained 2,400 children under the age of 18 in Iraq, including some as young as 10. Human Rights Watch said as of May 12, U.S. military authorities were holding 513 Iraqi children as "imperative threats to security".

The upside is that youths charged under Iraqi law receive access to legal counsel.

The downside? Read on…

"Those who are not referred to the Iraqi criminal courts do not have legal counsel because they are not charged with a crime," said Major Matthew Morgan, a spokesman for U.S. detention facilities in Iraq.

Not charged with a crime but imprisoned nevertheless.

Sandra Hodgkinson, deputy assistant secretary for Detainee Affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense, told reporters in Geneva "There is nothing in the optional protocol that prevents the detention of individuals under the age of 18, so the United States is in full compliance with its treaty obligations."

So, imprisoning children without charging them with a crime, without the basic legal rights of Habeas Corpus, due process or legal representation is acceptable to the Neo-Con-men in Washington. This is the level to which the United States has sunk under the stewardship of the Bush Administrations.

Tied with Somalia for last place.

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