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PATRIOT Act - Amnesty International Update
January 22, 2002

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Posted On: <Date Posted>          Updated On: January 22, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

PATRIOT Act - Amnesty International Update
January 22, 2002

<Read It On the AIUSA Website>

Your emails, calls, and letters make a difference, 
preserve human rights legislation

As President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law, Amnesty International could take heart in some important revisions to the original anti-terrorism bill, thanks, in part, to the efforts of thousands of Government Action Network activists and others.

The USA PATRIOT Act no longer contains provisions first proposed by the Administration that would have overturned years of human rights legislation including laws restricting arms transfers or training. One case in point is section 502b of the Foreign Assistance Act. Section 502b restricts security assistance to countries that engage in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. The Leahy Amendment --a bill that Amnesty members helped to pass -was threatened, too. The Leahy Amendment cuts U.S. military training and assistance to individual foreign military units, when there is credible evidence that those units are committing gross human rights violations such as torture. The work of Amnesty International members and staff helped to save these laws.

Amnesty members also pressed for a blanket "sunset provision" to the proposed anti-terrorism law, so that controversial sections could be reviewed in the future. While the law does include a sunset clause for some sections, it does not include sunset provisions on immigration and detention portions.

The original version of the bill gave the Attorney General virtually unchecked authority to detain indefinitely any non-citizen he certified as a threat to national security. There was no time limit on such detentions, and the legislation prevented judicial review of the substantive basis for the detention. The new law offers important safeguards. Within seven days of detention an individual must either be released, charged with a crime, or face immigration procedures. The case must be reviewed at the end of six months, and at six month intervals thereafter. We will continue to monitor the cases of those detained to ensure that they have access to legal counsel, a fair judicial process and that they are not subjected to ill-treatment.

While the legislation signed into law does not reflect all of Amnesty International's concerns, it is a law that is better than it otherwise might have been thanks, in part, to your work. Our focus will now be on its implementation and on ensuring that the broad powers that the law grants to the executive branch are not misused to deny civilians their rights. Thanks for your work and for your continued advocacy.

To read the full text of the law, visit (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:H.R.3162.ENR:)

To become a member of Amnesty International USA's Government Action Network, visit http://www.amnestyusa.org/government

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