World Unsafe After War On Terror
- HR abuses worsened in Pakistan, India: World more unsafe after war on
terror launched, says Amnesty
By Masood Haider
NEW YORK, May 28: Human rights abuses worsened in many Asian
countries, particularly in the context of the "war against terrorism"
as well as "crackdowns on crime," the London-based rights watchdog
Amnesty International said in its annual report released on Wednesday
In the name of combating "terrorism", governments stepped up the
repression of their political opponents, detained people arbitrarily,
and introduced sweeping and often discriminatory laws that undermined
the very foundations of international human rights and humanitarian
law in several countries, including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, India, the Republic of Korea and Australia, the report
In Pakistan, the AI said that human rights abuses committed in the
context of the government's continued support for the US-led "war on
terrorism" included the arbitrary detention of hundreds of people
suspected of having links with "terrorist" organizations and their
transfer to the custody of US officials.
The Pakistani authorities handed over more than 400 people to US
custody without adequate human rights safeguards, in breach of
domestic legislation regarding extradition. In addition, systemic
human rights violations, including torture, deaths in custody and
extra judicial killings, continued. Abuses committed against women,
children and religious minorities continued to be ignored.
At least 140 people were sentenced to death in 2002 and eight were
executed, the report added. Amnesty International said that in India
the right of minorities to live in the country as equals was
increasingly undermined by both state and non-state actors, despite
it being clearly asserted in the Constitution.
"In Gujarat, Muslims were victims of massacres allegedly masterminded
by nationalist groups with the connivance of state agencies. New and
stringent security legislation, which gives wide powers of arrest and
detention to the police, was misused to target political dissent in
areas of armed conflict and elsewhere. Human rights defenders were
frequently harassed by state and private actors, and their activities
labelled as anti- national.
"The criminal justice system remained extremely slow, under-
resourced and difficult to access for people from socially and
economically marginalized sections of society, including lower castes
and women. Security agencies continued to enjoy virtual impunity for
past abuses, thanks to specific provisions contained in security
legislation and to political protection. International human rights
monitors, including UN independent experts and international human
rights organizations, were de facto denied access to areas of armed
conflict and were granted only very limited access to the rest of the
The report pointed out that Hindu nationalist groups continued to
push their communal agenda, particularly the issue of the
reconstruction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya at the site where a
mosque was destroyed in 1992, through violence and the penetration of
institutions, leading to an increasing fragmentation of society on
KASHMIR: The report noted that the "ongoing tensions between India
and Pakistan were heightened by renewed claims by the Indian
government that armed opposition groups active in Kashmir were
enjoying Pakistan's support. This claim received international
legitimization in the context of the campaign against "terrorism" led
by the US and supported by the Indian government. The result was a
military stand-off on the India-Pakistan border, which started de-
escalating only in October.
The report said that the world's attention was still on Afghanistan,
where grave human rights abuses and armed conflict continued.
Millions of Afghans - both refugees and those who had remained in the
country - faced an uncertain and insecure future. There were
widespread abuses of the rights of people detained as suspected Al
Qaeda members or alleged "terrorists." More than 600 people, captured
during the war in Afghanistan, continued to be held at the US base in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and an unknown number in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Concerns about the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan continued
with reports of dangerous overcrowding, lack of food and medicine,
and lack of shelter from severe winter conditions. While the Afghan
interim authority is formally responsible for detention facilities,
under international law, the US has continuing responsibilities for
the welfare of prisoners who were in US custody before being handed
over to another country.
The AI said that in Bangladesh the government repealed the Public
Safety Act, but continued to detain people under the Special Powers
Act which overrides safeguards in Bangladeshi law against arbitrary
detention. Additionally in October, some 40,000 army personnel were
deployed across the country in a joint army-police crackdown on crime
under the name "Operation Clean Heart."
By the end of the year, more than 10,000 people, including members of
the opposition and ruling political parties, had been arrested. At
least 38 men died, allegedly as a result of torture in army custody.
Despite international calls for independent inquiries into these
deaths, no investigations were carried out.
A WORLD MORE UNSAFE: The report said the US "war on terror" had made
the world more dangerous by curbing human rights, undermining
international law and shielding governments from scrutiny.
In a scathing denunciation of the US and the UK, the AI said that the
policies pursued by the US and Britain in response to the attacks of
September 11, 2001, had made the world more unsafe.
If the war on terror was supposed to make the world safer, it has
failed, and has given governments an excuse to abuse human rights in
the name of state security, it said.
"What would have been unacceptable on September 10, 2001, is now
becoming almost the norm," Amnesty's secretary-general Irene Khan
told a news conference in London, accusing Washington of adopting "a
new doctrine of human rights a la carte".
"The United States continues to pick and choose which bits of its
obligations under international law it will use, and when it will use
them," she said, highlighting the detention without charge or trial
of hundreds of prisoners in Afghanistan and in a US military camp in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"By putting these detainees into a legal black hole, the US
administration appeared to continue to support a world where
arbitrary unchangeable detention becomes acceptable."
Amnesty urged the world to do more to sort out Iraq's problems now
that the Gulf War is over. "There is a very real risk that Iraq will
go the way of Afghanistan if no genuine effort is made to heed the
call of the Iraqi people for law and order and full respect of human
rights," Ms Khan said. "Afghanistan does not present a record of
which the international community can be proud."
The Amnesty accused Israel of committing gross human rights
violations in the occupied territories noting that "at least 1,000
Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army, most of them
unlawfully. They included some 150 children and at least 35
individuals killed in targeted assassinations. Palestinian armed
groups killed more than 420 Israelis, at least 265 of them civilians
and including 47 children, and some 20 foreign nationals, in targeted
or indiscriminate attacks."
AI said that certain abuses committed by the Israeli army constituted
war crimes. These included unlawful killings, obstruction of medical
assistance and targeting of medical personnel, extensive and wanton
destruction of property, torture and cruel and inhuman treatment,
unlawful confinement and the use of "human shields."
The deliberate targeting of civilians by Palestinian armed groups
constituted crimes against humanity. At least 158 Israeli
conscientious objectors and reservists who refused to serve in the
Occupied Territories were imprisoned. Several Israeli soldiers and
settlers were arrested on charges of selling weapons and munitions to
armed Palestinian groups, and four Israeli settlers were arrested and
charged with attempting to bomb a Palestinian school, AI said.
16 Pakistanis freed by Uganda
ISLAMABAD, May 28: Authorities in Uganda have released 16
Pakistanis apprehended by the law enforcement agencies on May 19
on suspicion of links with terrorism as the charges could not be
According to a report from Uganda, Pakistan's High Commissioner
Hameed A. Kidwai, on receipt of information about detention of the
Pakistanis, contacted the authorities there and followed up the
Foreigners held in US face harsh conditions
WASHINGTON, June 2: Foreigners detained as part of the
investigation into the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States
were held too long without being charged and subjected to "unduly
harsh" conditions of confinement, a US Justice Department audit
report, released on Monday, said.
The audit by the department's inspector general found "significant
problems" in how authorities handled the 762 foreigners who were
detained for immigration violations during the investigation into
the hijacked airliner attacks.....(Reuters)
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