Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Amnesty International's annual report: America is bad

Amnesty International's annual report came out today and although the report does not give out grades, a quick read of it will tell the reader that America deserves an "F" in human rights, at least in AI's opinion.

Other countries? If you dig around within the report, you do find in-passing scoldings of North Korea and Saudi Arabia in the regional summaries. As for Cuba, the only reference to be found regarding that unhappy island in the Americas regional summary is (surprise!) the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

You have to dig deep, but select Cuba among the list of countries pull-down selection, to ascertain what's happening there. Pretty much the same deal for Saudi Arabia and North Korea, too.

Naturally, most people who do venture to the Amnesty International web site aren't going to do all that--they're more likely to read the what's on the home page, or the foreword.

That foreword, written by Irene Khan, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, can be found here. Below is an interesting excerpt.

Despite the near-universal outrage generated by the photographs coming out of Abu Ghraib, and the evidence suggesting that such practices are being applied to other prisoners held by the USA in Afghanistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere, neither the US administration nor the US Congress has called for a full and independent investigation.

Instead, the US government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Conventions and to “re-define” torture. It has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation techniques, the practice of holding “ghost detainees” (people in unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the "rendering" or handing over of prisoners to third countries known to practise torture. The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law. Trials by military commissions have made a mockery of justice and due process.

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 and audacity. From Israel to Uzbekistan, Egypt to Nepal, governments have openly defied human rights and international humanitarian law in the name of national security and “counter-terrorism”.

I don't see the point in picking apart each sentence, but what occurred at Abu Ghraib was wrong. Everyone knows that, and there have been plenty of investigations--hard hitting ones--in the US about Abu Ghraib. Despite the ongoing violence, Iraq is a better and more humane country since Saddam's overthrow. There is a nascent Arab Spring in the Middle East (Lebanon and Egypt) that likely has drawn at least some inspiration from the January elections in Iraq). Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia might as well be part of that list, even though it is not an Arab state.

Oh, I almost forgot. Israel is bad too.

No comments: