Monday, July 17, 2006

Poll: Public Opinion in U.S. and Abroad Supports Due Process Rights for Terrorism Suspects

WASHINGTON - July 17 - New polls conducted in the United States, Europe and India document broad public support for giving full legal protections to terrorism suspects and the widespread belief abroad that the United States has been violating international law in its treatment of terrorism suspects.

At a time when the U.S. Congress is considering how to craft legislation setting standards for the trial of terrorism detainees, a survey by finds that Americans strongly support legal protections for terrorism suspects: robust majorities say that such detainees should not be held indefinitely without charges or a trial (60 percent), that they have the right to a lawyer (77 percent) and that their treatment should be monitored by the Red Cross (73 percent).

A majority of Americans (57 percent) also object to the rendition of terrorism suspects to countries known to use torture.

U.S. treatment of those detained in its war on terrorism is viewed negatively abroad. Large majorities in Germany and Great Britain, plus pluralities in Poland and India, believe that the United States has been violating international treaties at Guantanamo Bay and that U.S. interrogators are using torture to get information from suspects in their custody. Majorities in Germany (78 percent) and Great Britain (56 percent) now say the United States is doing a bad job of advancing international human rights -- up 54 points and 34 points, respectively, from when this question was asked in 1998.

There is also strong international opposition to renditions. Most of the British (66 percent) and Germans (55 percent) polled said their governments should not allow the United States to use their airspace to transport detainees to countries with a reputation for using torture. Pluralities also objected to such use in Poland (48 percent) and India (42 percent).

Steven Kull, editor of, said the findings showed the court's decision was "in step with public opinion in the United States and abroad." He also said the surveys demonstrated how U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects had "harmed the United States' image as a leader on human rights in the world."

Full reports and findings are presented at


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