Thu, May 27, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Amnesty International slams US war on terror

ANNUAL REPORT The human-rights group said the `war on terror' has produced the most sustained attack on people's rights and international law in 50 years


Washington's global anti-terror policies are "bankrupt of vision" as human rights become sacrificed in the blind pursuit of security, the human-rights group Amnesty International charged yesterday.

The US-led war on terror against extremist groups such as al-Qaeda has produced the most sustained attack on human rights and international law in 50 years, Amnesty said in its annual report released yesterday.

Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary general, condemned terrorist assaults by groups such as al-Qaeda, saying they posed a threat to the security of people around the world.

Amnesty also rapped partners across the world in the US' self-declared "war on terror" for jailing suspects unfairly, stamping on legitimate political and religious dissent, and squeezing asylum-seekers.

"The global security agenda promoted by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," Khan said.

"Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a more dangerous place," she said.

Specifically, Amnesty lashed Washington for unlawful killings of Iraqi civilians; questionable arrest and mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan; and opposition to a new global criminal court.

"The world is crying out for principled leadership," Khan added, saying the negative effects of US-led anti-terror policies had spread far and wide.

"Governments are losing their moral compass, sacrificing the global values of human rights in a blind pursuit of security," she said.

"By failing to protect the rights of those who may be guilty, governments endanger the rights of those who are innocent and put us all at risk," Khan said.

In Europe and Asia, Amnesty criticized regressive anti-terror legislation, attacks on refugee protection and restrictions on freedom of association and expression.

It singled out Britain for holding 14 foreigners without charge, Spain for closing a Basque-language newspaper, the EU for ignoring human rights in its asylum thinking, and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for internal repression.

In China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand "the belief ... that human rights could be curtailed under the `war on terror' umbrella was particularly apparent," with hundreds of detainees left in legal limbo, Amnesty's report said.

Arab nations also came in for criticism for allowing the transfer of people between states without judicial proceedings.

"While some states, such as Egypt and Syria, had long-standing states of emergency in place, the `war on terror' was used as a pretext to legitimize existing practices, such as long-term administrative detention and unfair trials by special courts whose procedures fell far short of international standards," the annual report said.

"Other states, such as Morocco and Tunisia, introduced new `anti-terrorism' laws during the year, which posed a further threat to basic human rights."

Amnesty also condemned the "callous, cruel and criminal attacks" by armed groups such as al-Qaeda.

The combined effect of those attacks and states' violations of rights was to create the most serious assault on rights and humanitarian law in half a century and make "a world of growing mistrust, fear and division", it said.

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