Why Americans practice Taliban Sharia

Posted on November 10, 2010

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“Harold Koh said capital punishment was permitted under international law”

GENEVA — The United States dismissed international calls Tuesday to abolish the death penalty as friends and foes alike delivered their recommendations on how Washington can improve its human rights record.

U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said capital punishment was permitted under international law, brushing aside long-standing appeals by European countries and others to temporarily halt or completely abolish the death penalty, which critics say is inhumane and unfairly applied.

“While we respect those who make these recommendations, we note that they reflect continuing policy differences, not a genuine difference about what international law requires,” Koh told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council.

The call to abolish the death penalty was repeated throughout the list of 228 recommendations by other nations that formed part of the first comprehensive review of Washington’s human rights record before the council.

Other nations also urged the U.S. to reduce overcrowding in prisons, ratify international treaties on the rights of women and children, and take further steps to prevent racial profiling.

Koh said the U.S. was committed to rooting out injustices and would seriously consider some of the recommendations, including one to sign a U.N. declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

But in response to recommendations made by adversaries such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, Koh said some proposals were “plainly intended as political provocations, and cannot be taken seriously.” He didn’t elaborate.

Civil society groups have praised the United States for involving them in the review process, which all U.N. member states have to undergo every four years.

“This international engagement must be followed by concrete domestic policies and actions and a commitment to fixing all domestic human rights abuses, not just the ones that are most convenient,” the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, Jamil Dakwar, said in a statement.

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