Running Time: 26 Minutes, 45 Seconds.
Human rights groups and several public inquiries in Europe have found the U.S. government, with the complicity of numerous governments worldwide, to be engaged in the illegal practice of extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and torture. The U.S. government-sponsored program of renditions is an unlawful practice in which numerous persons have been illegally detained and secretly flown to third countries, where they have suffered additional human rights abuses including torture and enforced disappearance. No one knows the exact number of persons affected, due to the secrecy under which the operations are carried out.
Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror' corroborates these findings through the harrowing stories of Khaled El-Masri and Binyam Mohamed, two men who have suffered as a result of the U.S. government's disregard of the international legal instruments dealing with respect for fundamental rights. The film features commentary from Louise Arbour, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael Scheuer, the chief architect of the rendition program and former head of the Osama Bin Laden unit at the CIA, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. President George W. Bush.
OUTLAWED is a 27-minute WITNESS production in association with 14 production and distribution partners worldwide, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Amnesty International; Breakthrough (US/India); the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Center for Human Rights & Global Justice at New York University School of Law; Freedom House; Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; the International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland); Liberty (UK); the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; Redress (UK); and Reprieve (UK).
UPDATE FROM THE ACLU's WEBSITE: On his second day in office, President Obama issued executive orders putting an end to some of the worst Bush administration policies of the last eight years dealing with detention of terrorism suspects. Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay within a year and the halting of its military commissions; the end of the use of torture; the shuttering of secret prisons around the world; and a review of the detention of the only U.S. resident being held indefinitely as a so-called “enemy combatant” on American soil. The detainee, Ali al-Marri, is the American Civil Liberties Union’s client in a case pending before the Supreme Court.
As Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU observed, “These executive orders represent a giant step forward. Putting an end to Guantanamo, torture and secret prisons is a civil liberties trifecta, and President Obama should be highly commended for this bold and decisive action so early in his administration on an issue so critical to restoring an America we can be proud of again.
There are, however, ambiguities in the orders regarding treatment of certain detainees that could either be the result of the swiftness with which these orders were issued or ambivalence within the Obama administration. We are hopeful that as the process unfolds and gets clarified, there will be no doubt that detainees must either be charged, prosecuted and convicted or they need to be released. That’s the American way; our legal system, while not always perfect, is the best in the world. Adherence to American legal principles requires unconditional action; there is no room for a middle-ground. It would be an enormous mistake for the Obama administration to allow for indefinite detention in any case, or to endeavor to create any system other than our centuries-old justice system for prosecuting detainees. If President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates hold on to any part of the Bush administration’s legal farce, they will soon end up in the very same legal morass that the prior president found himself in over the last eight years.”