What happened to human rights in the United States of America?

Julian Assange should not be extradited due to the potential impact on press freedom and concerns about ill-treatment

What happened to human rights in the United States of America?

Should Julian Assange be extradited to the USA. He is facing 17 new charges relating to the Espionage Act of 1917 in the United States. The Espionage Act charges carry a maximum sentence of 170 years in prison. Currently, Assange is incarcerated in the United Kingdom awaiting extradition to the land of the free.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to claim during an extradition hearing that the Trump administration offered him a pardon if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, a lawyer for Assange said Wednesday, according to a report released today by AP.

eTurboNews strongly supports the Council of Europe and the opinion by Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner of Human Rights by the Council of the European Parliament about Julian Assange not to be extradited to the United States of America.

Today, the system of human rights protection in Europe is one of the most advanced in the world. The European Convention on Human Rights, the Court, the different monitoring mechanisms and institutions, as well as my Office, work to ensure that States uphold their obligations to protect, respect and fulfill human rights. However, structural shortcomings and a lack of political will still hinder the full realization of human rights.

Dunja Mijatović was elected Commissioner for Human Rights in January 2018 by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and took up her position on 1 April 2018. She is the fourth Commissioner, succeeding Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).

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Dunja Mijatovic

She told eTurboNews in a statement:

My role as Commissioner for Human Rights is to keep states alert to the problems that may restrict people’s ability to enjoy their rights and to help them find solutions to improve human rights protection and implementation. To achieve this goal, I intend to work closely with all those who can make a difference -governments, national authorities, human rights defenders, journalists, NGOs, and educators. Human rights are not only a matter of states’ compliance with law and standards: they also require the support of society as a whole. Each of us must engage in the everyday implementation of human rights.

Human rights are not just about being free from coercion, discrimination and abuse. They are also about living our lives to the fullest potential. Human rights oblige states to safeguard our freedoms and strive to ensure dignity, justice and inclusion for all. It is my firm intention to use my mandate to help states live up to these expectations.”

I have been following with great attention the developments concerning Julian Assange’s case, in particular the charges against him and the extradition request submitted by the United States government to the United Kingdom. In addition to my own monitoring and analysis, I have received information from medical professionals, civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists’ associations and others in this case.

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Council of Europe

Julian Assange’s potential extradition has human rights implications that reach far beyond his individual case. The indictment raises important questions about the protection of those that publish classified information in the public interest, including those that expose human rights violations. The broad and vague nature of the allegations against Julian Assange, and of the offenses listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond. Consequently, allowing Julian Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as a purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies. 

Furthermore, any extradition to a situation in which the person involved would be at real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment would be contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has made clear that he considers that both the detention conditions in the United States and the sentence likely to be imposed on Julian Assange present such a real risk. 

In view of both the press freedom implications and the serious concerns over the treatment, Julian Assange would be subjected to in the United States, my assessment as Commissioner for Human Rights is that he should not be extradited.

I will continue to monitor the developments in this case closely.

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US President Abraham Lincoln

eTurboNews publisher Juergen Steinmetz said: “I applaud Dunja Mijatovic, and I feel alarmed and ashamed that the country I love, the United States of America can no longer be a country that supports human rights unconditionally. We must do better – and we are obligated to do better. I hope our people can be reminded by the statement President Abraham Lincoln’s made. We are a Government of the people, by the people, for the people, and shall not perish from the Earth.”