USA/FILE: Human Rights Watch report say U.S. use of torture compromises campaigns for rights around the world.
- Title: USA/FILE: Human Rights Watch report say U.S. use of torture compromises campaigns for rights around the world.
- Date: 19th January 2006
- Summary: (W1) WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 18, 2006) (REUTERS) WIDE OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KENNETH ROTH SPEAKING AT NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVAHPDKA1RU2NX6JHYBJ02XOUYJ
- Duration: 00:00:09
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Story Text: A human rights group said on Wednesday (January 18) that torture and other abuses committed by the United States in its war on terrorism have damaged American credibility and hurt the global human rights cause.
In a survey of world conditions, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Washington should appoint a special prosecutor and Congress should set up an independent panel to investigate U.S. abuses. The annual report covered rights developments in more than 70 countries.
"I'm sorry to report that the global defense of human rights has been profoundly compromised by the Bush administration's policy level decisions to flout some of the most basic human rights norms out of a misguided sense that is the best way to fight against terrorism. said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch at a news conference in Washington Wednesday (January 18).
President George W. Bush's administration has come under heavy criticism from rights groups at home and abroad, and from many foreign governments, over how it has has handled the interrogation and detention of suspects in the war on terrorism Washington launched after the September 11 attacks.
The 532-page report said efforts by U.S. officials in 2005 to defend inhumane interrogation methods or seek exemptions from planned anti-torture legislation showed the "U.S. government's embrace of torture and inhumane treatment began at the top."
"This U.S. disregard in the name of fighting terrorism has been extraordinarily counterproductive even for the effort to defeat terrorism. It has lost the United States the moral high ground. It has breeded resentment which has been a boon for terrorist recruiters," said Roth.
Human Rights Watch said the United States faced accusations of hypocrisy as it tackled 2005 troubles such as the massacre of hundreds of demonstrators in Uzbekistan, ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan and severe repression in countries such as Myanmar, North Korea, Turkmenistan, China and Zimbabwe.
It said the credibility gap was reflected in muted U.S. criticism of abuses in Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
"There is a copycat phenomenon. I'll just give you one example. I met just about a year ago with the prime minister of Egypt and was complaining about the rounding up of suspects in the Taba bombing and the torture of scores if not hundreds of suspects. He said to me, really without batting an eyelash, 'well what do you want? That's what the United States does.' There is an enormous problem that when a government as influential as the United States flouts basic human rights standards, it undermines those standards," said Roth.
At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan called the document politically motivated.
"It appears that the report is based more on a political agenda than on facts. The United States of America does more than any country in the world to advance freedom and promote human rights. Our focus should be on those who are denying people human dignity and who are violating human rights," said McClellan.
Human Rights Watch also criticized Britain for trying to send terrorism suspects to countries where they faced torture and said Canada had tried to dilute a new treaty outlawing enforced disappearances.
Those practices by U.S. allies -- combined with the European Union's practice of subordinating human rights to trade in its relationships with many rights offenders -- left a "global leadership void" in defending human rights.
Russia, trying to counter democratic currents in former Soviet states, and China, seeking resources for its economy, bolstered abusive governments, creating pressure for other powers to do the same or risk losing influence, it said.
The 16th annual world report by Human Rights Watch, published at http://hrw.org/wr2k6, said increased international pressure on Myanmar and North Korea were among several "bright spots" in 2005.
The group lauded India for freezing military aid to Nepal after a royal coup there in February and credited Kyrgyzstan for rescuing more than 400 refugees from a massacre in its Central Asian neighbor, Uzbekistan.
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