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Human Rights: U.S. Too Quick to Judge Others

May 04, 2003

Re "U.S. Criticizes Reelection of Cuba to U.N. Human Rights Panel," April 30: Fidel Castro's Cuba does not deserve to be on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, but neither does our "democratic" U.S. From Guantanamo prisoners living in tropical cages without access to lawyers to immigrants detained and deported without due process and a USA Patriot Act that expands the ability of law enforcement to search, wiretap and arrest without "legal obstacles," our institutions are undergoing a profound and regrettable transformation.

We may still be preaching the value of democratic and human rights ideals, but more than ever our words are discredited by the actions of an Orwellian administration for which human rights are an expendable casualty in its utilitarian conception that the end justifies the means.

Nestor Fantini

Northridge

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The Times is justifiably concerned that the U.N.'s election procedures allow countries like Cuba and Libya to participate on its Human Rights Commission (editorial, May 1).

However, there are many who are equally concerned that the U.S. is on this same commission. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world; capital punishment for minorities in disproportionate numbers; death sentences for minors and the mentally challenged; 26-year prison sentences for selling a small amount of marijuana (Alabama recently); and a federal government that insists on knowing what library books its citizens read.

It is true that there are prisoners in Cuba who have no lawyers, no rights and who are held under inhumane conditions. In fact, there are two sets of them: Castro has quite a few; the rest are managed by the commandant of the American base at Guantanamo Bay.

Chris Hounsome

Ottawa

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