In his critical article “A Cruel and Unusual Record” published in the New York Times, Jimmy Carter said that with all the revolutions sweeping around the world, America should “make the world safer.” Instead, however, “America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends,” he argues.
US’s government counterterrorism policies, Carter says, are now clearly violating at least 10 of the 30 articles written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended,” Carter writes.
These violations of human rights began after the terrorist attack of 9/11. Having been ”sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions,” Carter bemoaned a “lack of dissent from the general public”.
“As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues,” the 39th president wrote.
Carter says that “death of innocent women and children” within drone attacks on those who are said to be “enemy terrorists” are accepted “as inevitable”. However, that is something that “would have been unthinkable in previous times”.
“After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes in Afghanistan this year, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone,”writes Carter.
He adds that it is unknown “how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed” in attacks that have all been“approved by the highest authorities in Washington.”
“Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior,” writes Carter.
Carter’s critical article comes less than a week after the UN’s report on the use of drone strikes by the US to combat terrorism.
On June, 21, UN rapporteur, Christof Heyns, said that the US needs to be held legally accountable for the use of armed drones.
He requested that the Obama administration publish statistics on the number of civilian deaths caused by strikes on suspected terror leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Heyns underlined the fact that recent US drone strikes threatened the rule of international law in that many “targeted killings take place far from areas where it’s recognized as being an armed conflict.”
Speaking about human rights, Carter also mentioned that recent laws allow “unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications”.
Jimmy Carter has called for Washington to “reverse course and regain moral leadership”.