Why did Human Rights Watch select a former CIA official to sit on its advisory committee for eight years?

( May 19, 2014, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) That's a question two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, a former UN assistant secretary general, a UN special rapporteur, and over 100 scholars are asking HRW's executive director Kenneth Roth in an open letter.[1]

They note that Miguel Díaz, a CIA analyst in the 1990s, served as an advisor on human rights to HRW Americas from 2003-11 before moving back into government, as a State Department "interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts."[2]

Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as an "independent, international organization" -- and yet its staff, board of directors and advisory committees boast deep ties to the highest levels of the U.S. government (and U.S. corporations).[3]

Before becoming HRW's Washington advocacy director, for example, Tom Malinowski served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton. Now he's President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

This makes Malinowski's prior statements as an HRW representative all the more troubling: In 2009 he argued that "under limited circumstances" there was "a legitimate place" for CIA renditions -- the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet.[4] In 2011 he wrote approvingly about Obama's unconstitutional[5] NATO bombing campaign on Libya.[6]

Urge Kenneth Roth to assert Human Rights Watch's independence and stop the revolving door whereby HRW associates come directly out of the U.S. government and/or quickly return to it.

To hold governments accountable, trustworthy human-rights monitors are crucial. HRW should focus on protecting human rights -- not abetting U.S.-led wars. This is made difficult when HRW's board of directors includes Javier Solana, the secretary general of NATO in 1999 when it bombed Yugoslavia, committing "violations of international humanitarian law," as HRW itself reported in 2000.[7]

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The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

1. Nobel Peace Laureates to HRW: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government
2. Ibid.
3. Keane Bhatt: The Hypocrisy of Human Rights Watch
4. Los Angeles Times: Obama Preserves Renditions as Counter-Terrorism Tool
5. Foreign Policy: Obama's Unconstitutional War
6. New Republic: The Timeliness Paradox
7. Human Rights Watch: New Figures on Civilian Deaths in Kosovo War

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