On Tuesday, Obama announced the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence from 35 years to 7 years but refused to pardon her. Chelsea who has already served 6 years in prison will now be released On May 7.
Manning was convicted by a court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offences after disclosing to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 sensitive military documents. The most controversial archive was a classified video depicting the assassination of over a dozen people in Baghdad (Iraq), including two Reuters journalists. Manning was initially sent to solitary confinement for nearly a year to push her to implicate other people on the release of 700,000 documents. However, she never implicated anyone else other than herself.
Despite numerous experts concluding that solitary confinement may induce irreparable serious mental health problems, the prison authorities have continued sending Chelsea to solitary confinement on a regular basis, including one time as a punishment for attempting suicide. She has also been tortured and denigrated.
The UN has repeatedly tried to send a representative to meet Chelsea in prison, but the U.S. authorities have always warned them that due to extraordinary circumstances, the meeting would be fully monitored. The UN has always refused such conditions by alleging that the lack of privacy is a violation of human rights procedures, and is unacceptable. Human rights organisations have often warned the U.S. government that the Manning conviction was illegal and unfair.The United Nations concluded that Chelsea’s treatment in prison was cruel and inhumane.
“The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence,” Mendez UN investigator.
Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:
“Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result, her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years. “President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”
Human Rights Watch general counsel Dinah PoKempner stated:
“The aggressive prosecution and harsh sentencing of Manning not only contrasts sharply with the total impunity of former senior US officials for torture and related abuses but also far exceeds the sentences most democratic countries impose for public leaks of sensitive information.” Soldiers are promised fair treatment and a speedy trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). However, PVT Manning was arrested in April of 2010, and waited in pre-trial confinement for over three years before her trial finally began.”
OBAMA WILL BE REMEMBERED as the president who released Chelsea Manning. However, he has not acknowledged the illegality of her imprisonment, and Chelsea has already wasted 6 years of her life in prison being tortured on a regular basis just because she revealed war crimes committed by the Army. Obama should not only forgive her, but he should also show his gratefulness for Chelsea’s heroic act.
WHY SHOULD CHELSEA MANNING HAVE NEVER BEEN PROSECUTED?
Chelsea Manning revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. Army for the public interest.In doing so, she wanted to expose the illegal operations conducted by the Army in Iraq. Chelsea also wanted the international community to open an independent investigation to determine who was behind the crimes. However, she was quickly criminalised and prosecuted by the government. Numerous organisations concluded that she was illegally detained. For that reason, she should never have been prosecuted.
NOTE: Governments should promote the revelation of war crimes committed by the army to make sure that there is no any irregularity and there is more transparency.
WHY IS THE COMMUTATION OF HER SENTENCE NOT THE SAME AS A PARDON ?
In the federal system, commutation of sentence and pardon are different forms of executive clemency, which is a broad term that applies to the President’s constitutional power to exercise leniency toward persons who have committed federal crimes.
A commutation of sentence reduces a sentence, either totally or partially, that is then being served, but it does not change the fact of conviction, imply innocence, or remove civil disabilities that apply to the convicted person as a result of the criminal conviction. A commutation may include remission (release) of the financial obligations that are imposed as part of a sentence, such as payment of a fine or restitution. A commutation of sentence has no effect on a person’s immigration status and will not prevent removal or deportation from the United States.
A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence. It does not signify innocence. It does, however, remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury – imposed because of the conviction for which pardon is sought, and should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction. It may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment. Under some – but not all – circumstances, a pardon will eliminate the legal basis for removal or deportation from the United States.
WE SHOULD BE HAPPY for the commutation of Chelsea’s sentence, but we should not forget that she has been in prison illegally for 6 years. For that reason, it is important to continue demanding justice until the government acknowledges its mistake and restores Chelsea’s honour. For that to happen, It is important to demand two parallel independent investigations promoted by the U.S. government and the international court to determine who was the responsible for such atrocities and prosecute them. War crimes should never be accompanied by impunity.
Our society needs more brave people like Chelsea Manning to bring more transparency into our lives. We should be eternally grateful for her courage in showing us the truth. We should never forget her. We should always support her.
Long live Chelsea….