The State of Human Rights in 2004 according to Amnesty International

Amnesty International released their annual assessment last Wednesday that scolds the world's government for not taking a more proactive role in preventing human rights abuses and that they must be held accoutable.

"Governments are betraying their promises on human rights. A new agenda is in the making with the language of freedom and justice being used to pursue policies of fear and insecurity. This includes cynical attempts to redefine and sanitise torture," said AI Secretary General Irene Khan.

The mismanagement of the situation in Darfur is criticized by the organization, blaming the international community's lack of attention to addressing the problem head on. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese victims have suffered because everyone did too little too late.

Amnesty International also says that "in Haiti, individuals responsible for serious human rights violations were allowed to regain positions of power. In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo there was no effective response to the systematic rape of tens of thousands of women, children and even babies. Despite the holding of elections, Afghanistan slipped into a downward spiral of lawlessness and instability. Violence was endemic in Iraq."

Even the war on terror has not hindered human rights abuses. "The televised beheading of captives in Iraq, the taking of over a thousand people hostage including hundreds of children in a school in Beslan and the massacre of hundreds of commuters in Madrid shocked the world. Yet governments are failing to confront their lack of success in addressing terrorism, persisting with failed but politically-convenient strategies. Four years after 9/11, the promise to make the world a safer place remains hollow," said Ms Khan.

The United States doesn't escape AI's scorn for its mishandling of the Abu Gharib scandal. "The USA, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. 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," said Ms Khan.

However, the report shows that there were some positive highlights from the past year. The US Supreme Court voted in favor of Guantánamo detainees receiving legal representation and the United Kingdom Law Lords ruled that terrorist suspects can not be held indefinitely without charge or trial. Public uprisings in Spain, Georgia and Ukraine show the growing need for a new political discourse.

"Increasingly, the duplicity of governments and the brutality of armed groups are being challenged - by judicial decisions, popular resistance, public pressure and UN reform initiatives. The challenge for the human rights movement is to harness the power of civil society and push governments to deliver on their human rights promises," said Irene Khan.


At Tuesday, May 31, 2005 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Nikhil said...

Did anyone see Dick Cheney trying to defend the actions of the US in Gitmo last night? Quite shameful if you ask me.


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