The issue of the US's arbitrary detention of suspected terrorists and "enemy combatants" in its Caribbean gulag at Guantanamo Bay is, as Keith Locke says, "an acid test of whether you really stand for justice and human dignity". So you'd expect a New Zealand government which claims to stand for those things to raise the issue with visiting US officials, right? Think again. At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Scoop asked visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill whether the New Zealand government had raised the issue of human rights in Guantanamo. This is how the exchange went (from the MP3, beginning at around 5:25 in):
Scoop: The UN recently issued a report on human rights abuses in Guantanamo Bay criticising the United States quite heavily for the conduct of operations there. Was this raised at all in discussions with the New Zealand government, and do you think this is the sort of issue that should be discussed between very very good friends?
Hill: Well, first of all I think any friend has a right to bring up any issue they want, I have no problem discussing any issues. I must say our talks focused with the New Zealand government today on issues and areas we're going to try and cooperate more together in the future.
Scoop: So it didn't come up at all?
Hill: We did not discuss the issue of Guantanamo.
I think this shows exactly how much our government cares about human rights. Their policy really is one of shameful silence...