Wednesday, May 25, 2005

COM: Comeuppance

From The New York Times


Amnesty slams U.S. on human rights

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) -- Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe the picture is bleak. Governments are increasingly rolling back the rule of law, taking their cue from the U.S.-led war on terror, it said.

"The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behavior worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report.

"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity," she said.

London-based Amnesty cited the pictures last year of abuse of detainees at Iraq's U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, which it said were never adequately investigated, and the detention without trial of "enemy combatants" at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," Khan said.

She also noted Washington's attempts to circumvent its own ban on the use of torture.

"The U.S. government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Convention and to 're-define' torture," she said, citing the secret detention of suspects and the practice of handing some over to countries where torture was not outlawed.

U.S. President George W. Bush often said his country was founded on and dedicated to the cause of human dignity -- but there was a gulf between rhetoric and reality, Amnesty found.

"During his first term in office, the USA proved to be far from the global human rights champion it proclaimed itself to be," the report said, citing Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Read the rest here . . .

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