Amnesty International: US treats world as a 'giant battlefield'
- US treats world as 'giant battlefield' Wednesday, 23 May 2007 Amnesty International launched a scathing attack on the United States today, accusing it of trampling on human rights, and using the world as a giant battlefield in its War on Terror.
The criticism came in Amnesty's 2007 worldwide report, in which the human rights watchdog complained of a return to the geopolitical polarisation of the Cold War era and said that the global agenda was being largely driven by fear. "Like the Cold War times, the agenda is being driven by fear - instigated, encouraged and sustained by unpincipled leaders." Amnesty International launched a scathing attack on the United States today, accusing it of trampling on human rights, and using the world as a giant battlefield in its War on Terror.
"Human rights - those global values, universal principles and common standards that are meant to unite us - are being bartered away in the name of security," wrote Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, in a foreword to the report.
"Like the Cold War times, the agenda is being driven by fear - instigated, encouraged and sustained by unpincipled leaders."
Amnesty said that President Bush had invoked the fear of terrorism to bolster his executive power after the attacks of September 11, 2001, "without Congressional oversight or judicial scrutiny".
But he was not alone - John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, was accused of portraying asylum-seekers as a threat to national security to help secure his re-election. The Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, "whipped up fear among his supporters and in the Arab world that the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur would be a pretext for an Iraq-style, US-led invasion".
"Meanwhile," it added, "his armed forces and militia allies continued to kill rape and plunder with impunity."
The report, focusing on the events of 2006, was highly critical of China, for its repression of dissent and religious freedom and for its widespread use of the death penalty. Russia was criticised for its crackdown on journalists, its failure to tackle racism and discrimination and for grave violations in Chechnya, where "impunity remained the norm for those who committed human rights abuses".
But it was Amnesty's criticisms of the United States - far stronger than those levelled against any other major Western democracy - which will grab most attention.
"Unfettered discretionary executive power is being purused relentlessly by the US administration, which treats the world as one big battlefield for its 'war on terror': kidnapping, arresting, detaining or torturing suspects either directly or with the help of countries as far apart as Pakistan and Gambia, Afghanistan and Jordan," Ms Khan said.
"In September 2006, President Bush finally admitted what Amnesty International has long known - that the CIA had been running secret detention centres in circumstances that amount to international crimes," she added.
Amnesty said that international investigations had shown that hundreds of people had been unlawfully transferred by the US and its allies to countries such as Syria, Jordan and Egypt - out of the reach of legal protection.
"The US administration's double-speak has been breathtakingly shameless. It has condemned Syria as part of the 'axis of evil', yet it has transferred a Canadia national, Maher Arar, to the Syrian security forces to be interrogated, knowing full well that he risked being tortured."
Yet Washington remains deaf to international pleas to shut down its remote military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where many of those subjected to 'extraordinary rendition' have ended up, held without charge or trial, virtually incommunicado.
Ms Khan also lambasted the "misguided military adventure in Iraq", where human rights standards had fallen by the wayside.
The Iraqi police forces, heavily infiltrated by sectarian militia, are feeding violations rather than restraining them," she wrote. The Iraqi justice system is woefully inadequate, as former president Saddam Husseins flawed trial and grotesque execution confirmed."
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