Amnesty Accuses US Over Torture
BBC Online, May 25, 2005
Governments around the world betrayed
their commitment to human rights in 2004, Amnesty International
In a 300-page annual report, the group
accused the US government of damaging human rights with its attitude
to torture and treatment of detainees.
This granted "a licence to others
to commit abuse with impunity", the human rights advocates
In Washington, a White House spokesman
branded the allegations "ridiculous and unsupported by the
"The United States is leading the
way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human
dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan,
we have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world,"
said Scott McClellan.
The report also criticised the world as
a whole for failing to act over crises, notably in Sudan's Darfur
Afghanistan was slipping into a "downward
spiral of lawlessness and instability", it added.
Published on Wednesday, the report accused
governments of adhering stubbornly to "politically convenient"
but inefficient tactics to address terrorism in 2004, despite
what Amnesty saw as a lack of success.
The televised beheading of captives in
Iraq, the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid and the siege at
a school in Beslan in Russia showed that "four years after
9/11, the promise to make the world a safer place remains hollow",
secretary general Irene Khan said.
In Iraq some of the violence could be
blamed on armed groups but the report also blamed US-led coalition
forces for "unlawful killings, torture and other violations".
"Torture and ill-treatment by US-led
forces were widely reported," it added.
The report also highlighted the London-based
organisation's concerns about:
* A lack of accountability for human rights
violations in Haiti and in the Democratic Republic of Congo
* Reported abuses by Russian forces in
* New levels of brutality against civilians
by armed groups in places like Iraq
* Slow progress in achieving the Millennium
* Indifference to violence against women
* Lack of a full independent investigation
into abuses against detainees in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan
and Guantanamo Bay.
In its wide-ranging review of 131 countries
and five world regions, Amnesty International said the US government's
selective disregard for international law and reported abuses
of detainees was sending a "permissive signal to abusive
"The US, as the unrivalled political,
military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental
behaviour worldwide," she said.
"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."
The administration was seeking "to
dilute the absolute ban on torture", Ms Khan added.
Rejecting Amnesty's charges, Mr McClellan
said the US investigated all allegations of abuse.
"We hold people accountable when
there's abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again.
And we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we
lead by example and that we do have values that we hold very dearly
and believe in," he told reporters in Washington.
Ms Khan also condemned the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights for failing to stand up for those supposedly
in its care.
"The UN Commission of Human Rights
has become a forum for horse-trading on human rights," she
"Last year the commission dropped
Iraq from scrutiny, could not agree on action on Chechnya, Nepal
or Zimbabwe and was silent on Guantanamo Bay."
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