How our media reports on human rights

Stuart Weir
7 August 2008

Stuart Weir (Cambridge, Democratic Audit): I can't say that I watched or listened to every TV or radio news report yesterday, but the pattern of those reports I did catch was clear enough. Not one reported in terms that the trial and conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan for being Osama bin Laden's former driver was a clear violation of international human rights laws, or even used the term, "human rights abuse". It was established, without comment, that Hamdan had been in custody for seven years and that, had he been found not guilty, or given a sentence light enough for release once the seven years were taken into account, he would anyway remain incarcerated.

Instead that old polarity was established - between on the one hand the need for security against terrorism, and on the other, due process and US law, as apologists for the Guantanamo regime explained that this military farrago was "straight down the middle". This was just one of a host of assertions that went unexamined and unchallenged. Meanwhile George Bush's concerns about "human rights abuses" in China were rightly broadcast, though without any suggestion that his position was contaminated by the enormity of the US record on unlawful detention and torture.

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