Amnesty Slams ‘Bankrupt’ Vision of US in Damning Human Rights Report

LONDON (AFP)–The United States has proved "bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle" in its fight against terrorism and invasion of Iraq Amnesty International charges in its 2004 report on the state of human rights around the globe.

Though the London-based group’s report cites grave violations in dozens of other nations–it specifically targets the "war on terror" initiated by US President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001–for sanctioning human rights abuses in the name of freedom.

The unilateral nature of the conflict to unseat Saddam Hussein in Iraq additionally "virtually paralyzed" the United Nations’ role in guaranteeing human rights on a global level–said the Amnesty report which was released on Wednesday.

The 339-page document–detailing the human rights situation in 157 nations and territories–reserved the most column inches for the United States–with almost as many critical words to Russia and China.

Other perennial violators are also highlighted such as North Korea–Cuba–and the central Asian state of Turkmen’stan where Amnesty summarized the situation simply as "appalling."

"The global security agenda promulgated by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," wrote Amnesty’s secretary general Irene Khan in the report’s introduction.

"Sacrificing human rights in the name of security at home–turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using preemptive military force where and when it chooses have neither increased security nor ensured liberty."

The notion of fighting a campaign against terrorism so as to support human rights–while simultaneously trampling on them to achieve this–is no more than "double speak," she said.

"The United States has lost its moral high ground and its ability to lead on peace and human rights elsewhere," Khan added at a press conference in London to launch the annual report.

The report also states that events in 2003 "dealt a mortal blow" to the UN’s vision of universal human rights–with the global body "virtually paralyzed in its efforts to hold states to account" over the issue.

"Not since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 has there been such a sustained attack on [its] values and principles," Khan told the press conference.

While the report only briefly deals with damning allegations that US and British troops tortured Iraqi prisoners–these first came to light just last month–it has harsh words about the overall record of the two nations in Iraq.

"Coalition forces failed to live up fully to their responsibilities as occupying powers–including their duty to restore and maintain public order and safety–and to provide food–medical care and relief assistance," it states.

Elsewhere–Amnesty details a long list of abuses in Russia–where security forces "continue to enjoy almost total impunity for serious violations of human rights and international law" in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

China–despite a new Communist government under President Hu Jintao–made "no significant attempt" to end the use of torture and other abuses–which "remained widespread," states the report.

In the Middle East–both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were taken to task–with Amnesty saying that some actions by the Israeli army–such as the destruction of property–"constituted war crimes."

One of the most damning assessmen’s is handed to Cuba–which saw a "severe deterioration in the human rights situation" during 2003–most notably through the jailing of dozens of dissidents after "hasty and unfair" trials.


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