Pak civil liberty groups seek review of US ’screening’ policy

April 21st, 2009 - 4:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Lahore, Apr. 21 (ANI): Pakistan’s civil liberties groups have urged the US Government to lessen the questions on Americans’ political beliefs and religious practices of the travelers as part of screening rules on the border posts.

They have also demanded a process of clearing out the names of US citizens and residents who are mistakenly included on terrorist watch lists.

A report by the Asian Law Caucus of San Francisco has cited more than 40 complaints from US citizens and immigrants since 2007 as evidence of “a pattern of profiling and discrimination at US borders”, the Daily Times reports.

“Many people in America’s Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities, have come to expect harassment and discriminatory treatment at our nation’s doorstep” when returning home, the Daily Times quoted the report, as saying.

Another civil liberties organization, Muslim Advocates, has also issued a report saying that citizens should not be threatened with detention for not answering questions that go beyond establishing their legal status or whether they are carrying contraband.

Liberty groups allege that the terror watch-list contains names of countless individuals whose names are similar to those on the government’s database of terrorism suspects, which includes more than a million names and aliases used by 400,000 people.

“People think watch lists have been fixed and the problem has gone away. They haven’t gone away, they’ve been institutionalized and it’s going to take affirmative action by the Obama administration to fix this stuff,” said Christopher Calabrese, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty program.

The Asian Law Caucus said the US Customs and Border Protection should inform travellers that they could submit complaints on-site to a redress programme, and the government should publicize an appeals process (ANI)

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