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Jesuits criticise US treatment of prisoners


Two prominent Jesuits - Cardinal Roberto Tucci, former head of Vatican Radio, and Fr Pasquale Borgomeo, its current director - have criticised the way the United States is treating captured Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Fr Borgomeo criticised what he called "the militarisation of justice" which was evident in the Guantanamo campin Cuba. He said there was a need for "a wider view, a more strategic view that would serve in the struggle to build peace".

Following is the report carried in the current issue of The Tablet:

The United States must guarantee respect for human rights even for suspected terrorists, two leading Jesuits in Rome said last week. In separate interviews, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, a former director of Vatican Radio, and Fr Pasquale Borgomeo, its current director, said one of the most worrying aspects of the continuing war on terrorism was the American treatment of Afghan prisoners.

Ignoring criticism from Amnesty International, the United States has defined suspected al-Qaida militants as 'unlawful combatants' rather than prisoners of war. The prisoners have been transferred to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which is outside US jurisdiction.

The Pentagon this week released pictures of the prisoners which showed them manacled and hooded in open-air cages. Human rights groups accused the United States of subjecting the prisoners to sensory deprivation and other forms of degradation and torture. But the US State Department said the pictures were of the prisoners when they first arrived, and therefore did not show how they were kept day to day.

Speaking on 16 January, Cardinal Tucci said the prisoners had the right to be tried and to legal counsel, a right which Amnesty says is being denied them. Uprooting terrorism was 'perfectly correct' but not if it was carried out 'with a spirit of vengeance that can transgress respect for human rights', the cardinal told the One-O-Five Live programme, adding that 'hatred and vengeance' would 'help terrorists recruit others more easily'.

The day before, Fr Borgomeo criticised what he called 'the militarisation of justice' which was evident in the Guantanamo camp. There was a need for 'a wider view, a more strategic view that would serve in the struggle to build peace'. Such a view meant seeking justice not just in the sense of capturing and punishing terrorists but of 'shrinking the boundaries of poverty, of desperation and of hatred', he added.

SOURCE
The Tablet


30-Jan-02