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9330: NCHR Press Release on Anti-Terrorism Legislation (fwd)

From: Dina Paul Parks <DPParks@nchr.org>

> 							Contact:  Dina Paul
> Parks
> 212-337-0005, x11
> NEW YORK, October 24, 2001  -- The National Coalition for Haitian Rights
> (NCHR) is calling on President Bush and Congress to take steps to resolve
> a number of civil liberties concerns raised by anti-terrorism legislation
> currently pending before lawmakers.  In letters dated today and signed by
> over 25 organizations and individual citizens, NCHR asks the President and
> Congress to fix the language of the PATRIOT Act of 2001 to ensure that
> thousands of non-citizens are not placed in indefinite legal limbo and
> denied basic due process protections.  Earlier today, the House of
> Representatives passed their version of the bill.  When senators take it
> up either later on today or tomorrow, NCHR urges these lawmakers to
> include due process protections in the final act.  
> "We understand that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect
> national security," said Jocelyn McCalla, NCHR's Executive Director.
> "Destroying the nation's precious freedoms that American citizen and
> immigrant servicemen and women are right now fighting to protect, however,
> should not be among those measures."  Among the more alarming provisions
> of the bills are the powers granted solely to the Attorney General to jail
> any non-citizen, without charging them with a crime, indefinitely.
> Exercising judicial oversight would be exceedingly difficult in these
> cases.  In addition, the legislation does not even provide for
> court-appointed legal representation for those unable to afford their own
> lawyer, a right accorded to the accused by the 1966 landmark Supreme Court
> Miranda ruling.  "Haitians and many other immigrants are already very
> familiar with the power of the state to exercise such control over our
> lives," added Mr. McCalla.  "That's the kind of nightmare, in our native
> countries, from which many of us fled.  It would truly be a sad irony if
> the United States, a refuge and haven, now places us at risk for similar
> abuses."  
> During the week of October 1st, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously
> passed a bipartisan bill that accorded the government numerous additional
> tools to protect national security without sacrificing this nation's
> respect for human and individual rights.  NCHR believes that the President
> and Congress can and must work hard to revive those provisions before this
> legislation is made final and signed into law.  At a minimum, the final
> act should:  
> 	*	Provide a finite period of time that a person can be held
> without being charged with a crime.  A period of seven days was included
> in the first version of this legislation and seems reasonable.
> 	*	Provide for evidentiary standards and judicial review of the
> Attorney General's detention powers.
> 	*	Ensure court-appointed counsel for those unable to afford
> their own attorney.
> _______________________________
> Dina Paul Parks
> Policy Associate
> National Coalition for Haitian Rights
> 275 Seventh Avenue, 17th Floor
> New York, NY 10001
> ph:  212-337-0005, x11
> fx:  212-741-8749
> email:  dpparks@nchr.org
> www.nchr.org