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An American law professor has been appointed by the United Nations to monitor governments’ respect for human rights as they fight terrorism. Robert K. Goldman, of the Washington College of Law, American University, was named independent expert on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. Mike Smith, chairman of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, announced the appointment last week. The commission says Goldman’s role will be to “address the compatibility of national counterterrorism measures with international human rights obligations.” In 2002, he was co-author of an article for the American Society of International Law that said the United States had failed to meet international human rights standards in its treatment of detainees captured in Afghanistan and held at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Human rights experts have been concerned that governments’ counterterrorism measures sometimes ignore basic rights such as detainees’ rights to a fair trial. The new position was created in April when the commission’s 53 member states unanimously approved a resolution brought by Mexico. Goldman has been writing about human rights in conflict situations for more than 30 years and is the author of numerous articles on international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions, war crimes and protection of civilians. International human rights groups also have expressed concerns about the Guantanamo base, especially about the long periods of time that detainees have been held without trial. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that all the 594 detainees there have the right to contest their continued detention before a U.S. federal court. Goldman graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1971 and was a Fulbright Scholar in Uruguay in 1967-68. As a U.N. expert, Goldman will be unpaid but will receive expenses and assistance from the U.N. human rights office. He will report his findings to the annual session of the Human Rights Commission. Smith also appointed or nominated 13 other new experts, including monitors of the human rights situations in North Korea, Sudan, Chad, Belarus, Burundi and Uzbekistan, and experts on the right to education, human trafficking and freedom of religion. All the appointments were made in consultation with member states, the United Nations said. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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