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Amnesty International report criticizes U.S.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 16, 2002

LONDON -- The treatment of al-Qaida and Taliban suspects at a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay undermines human rights and might be cruel and degrading, Amnesty International asserted Monday.

In a 62-page memorandum sent to the U.S. government, Amnesty accuses Washington of flouting international law by refusing detainees access to legal counsel.

"The U.S. government must ensure that all its actions in relation to those in its custody in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay comply with international law and standards," the human rights group said. "This is crucial if justice is to be done and seen to be done, and if respect for the rule of law and human rights is not to be undermined."

The U.S. Embassy in London declined to comment on the report.

The camp has been inspected by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

FORCE-FEEDING OVER: Navy hospital medical staff have released two suspects at Guantanamo Bay from a forced-feeding regime and sent them back to Camp X-ray to continue their hunger strike.

PAKISTANI DELEGATION: Three or four Pakistani officials will spend a week to 10 days at the Guantanamo Bay base, where they will meet with Pakistani prisoners and inspect conditions.

Witnesses: Deported man's visa not canceled

MIAMI -- Immigration workers in New York returned a valid, five-year visa to an Egyptian man being deported in January, telling him not to return, witnesses testified at a court hearing Monday.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service handed the uncanceled visa back to Aly Sabra Galal Abdelella when he was sent home in January, an immigration agent testified.

Sabra carried the unstamped visa when he flew from Madrid to Miami on March 29. A computer check revealed the deportation order, and he has been in custody since.

Russ Bergeron, an INS spokesman in Washington, said that while it appears the visa was never canceled, it is also possible that the cancellation stamp was erased. He noted deportees are barred from returning to the United States for at least five years.

The revelation about the visa comes amid heightened momentum to abolish the INS. The agency delivered student visas for two Sept. 11 hijackers to a Florida flight school six months after they flew jetliners into the World Trade Center.

Early voting begins in Afghanistan

MARDYAN, Afghanistan -- Hundreds of villagers on Monday began what many hope will be Afghanistan's first democratic revolution, simply by gathering in a muddy field to vote.

Crowding into tents, delegates from 16 villages in northern Afghanistan met to select candidates to join the national assembly that will choose the country's next government. The process, a form of indirect democracy akin to the Electoral College in the United States, will end in June with a loya jirga, or grand council, that will choose a successor to the interim government.

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