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Former US president calls to shutdown Guantanamo prison in Cuba
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June 8 Atlanta USA (AP) - Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday called for the United States to shut down its Guantanamo Bay prison to demonstrate the country's commitment to protecting human rights.

"Despite President George W Bush's bold reminder that America is determined to promote freedom and democracy around the world, the US continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation as a champion of human rights because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo," Carter said in the closing remarks of two-day human rights conference at his Atlanta centre.

In addition to closing Guantanamo Bay and two dozen other secret detention facilities, the former president said the United States needs to make sure no detainees are held incommunicado and that they all be told the charges against them.

His other recommendations included that the United States stop transferring detainees to foreign countries where torture has been reported, and that an independent commission be created to investigate where terrorism suspects are held in US custody.

Carter also said the United States should reaffirm its commitment to due process and international law, and make sure that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners are enforced.

Carter said many countries, including the United States, are using the campaign against terrorism as an excuse to restrict freedoms and silence human rights activists.

"In fact, combating terrorism, defending human rights and ensuring our collective security go hand in hand," Carter said.

The former president also pointed out abuses in other countries, including:

- In Indonesia, efforts to reform the state intelligence body are being resisted in the name of safeguarding security.

- In conflict zones such as Chechnya and Colombia, crimes against humanity, and the targeting of human rights activists, are justified as counterterrorism.

- Persistent poverty contributes to insecurity and violence in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Uzbekistan.
A delegation of human rights defenders from around the world will be in Washington today to present their testimony to key leaders of the US government.
 

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