May 23, 2006

Rights abuses rise due to war on terrorism: Amnesty

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S.-led war against terrorism has
sparked a rise in human rights abuses as countries turn a blind
eye to violations by their allies, Amnesty International said
on Tuesday.

Accusing countries such as the United States of double
standards, the group said in its annual report for 2006 that
their credibility had been weakened by reports of prisoner
torture in third countries and other rights abuses.

Rights groups have often accused governments backing the
war against terrorism of being reluctant to criticize allies
that have a poor human rights records to avoid losing the
support of those countries.

Amnesty said the war on terrorism had damaged ordinary
people's lives and some governments had 'sacrificed principles'
and turned a blind eye to rights violations in its pursuit.

"The increasing brutality of such incidents throughout the
world last year is a further bitter reminder that the 'war on
terror' is failing and will continue to fail until human rights
... are given precedence over narrow national security
interests," Amnesty chief Irene Khan said.

"Doublespeak and double standards by powerful governments
are dangerous because they weaken the ability of the
international community to address human rights problems."

The report cited the example of the U.S. jail at Guantanamo
Bay in Cuba, which it said remained packed with prisoners who
had not been charged or tried, and many European governments
had tried to wriggle out of their legal human rights

It also accused UN Security Council members Russia and
China of consistently flouting human rights in pursuit of their
own agendas.

Human rights groups have slammed energy-hungry China for
investing in or aiding countries with bad human rights records
in return for access to oil and gas supplies, while Moscow is
often accused of abuses by Russian troops in war-torn Chechnya.

"Powerful governments are playing a dangerous game with
human rights," Khan said. "The scorecard of prolonged conflicts
and mounting human rights abuses is there for all to see."


Amnesty said governments with their own agenda had
paralyzed the United Nations just when it could have acted
decisively in regions like Sudan's crisis-torn Darfur.

"As a result, the world has paid a heavy price in terms of
erosion of fundamental principles and in the enormous damage
done to the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people."

But the past year had seen some positive developments,
Amnesty said. There was huge public support for the campaign to
Make Poverty History, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet
was finally arrested and an international arrest warrant for
former Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori was enforced.

For the coming year, Amnesty called for concerted action to
end the genocide in Darfur, international action against the
deadly trade in small arms, the closure of Guantanamo Bay and a
renewed commitment to uphold human rights.