CBC News – 2008-05-31 23:47:43
(May 28, 2008) — Amnesty International is again targeting the U.S. in its annual report on human rights abuses, saying the world leader is failing to live up to its responsibility of setting the standard for government behaviour.
While the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on the report, it has previously said Amnesty uses the U.S. as “a convenient ideological punching bag.”
In the introduction of its report, under the heading, “A Dismal Record”, the group lashes out at a number of U.S. policies, including Washington’s continued operation of the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, something that has come under criticism in the past.
“The world needs a U.S.A. genuinely engaged and committed to the cause of human rights, at home and abroad,” the report states.
Instead, the human rights group says the U.S. “distinguished itself in recent years through its defiance of international law.”
“As the world’s most powerful state, the U.S.A. sets the standard for government behaviour globally. With breathtaking legal obfuscation, the U.S. administration has continued its efforts to weaken the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment.”
In order for the U.S. to have “moral authority as a human rights champion,” the report calls on the next president to close Guantanamo, try the detainees in federal court or release them, denounce all forms of torture and “ditch support for authoritarian leaders.”
The report also rebukes the U.S. for supporting Pakistani President Perez Musharraf last November while hundreds of lawyers and political activists were arrested during a state of emergency crackdown.
The State Department had no immediate comment on the report, but said the U.S. was justified in detaining enemy combatants at Guantanamo to prevent them from returning to the battlefield.
China is also singled out for criticism in the report for continuing to ship weapons to Sudan in defiance of a UN arms embargo and for trading with abusive governments like Burma and Zimbabwe.
It said that China’s media censorship remains in place and that the government continues to persecute rights activists.
Russia as well comes under fire for repressing political dissent, threatening journalists and dispersing public demonstrations.
Amnesty International said people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 and are denied free speech in at least 77.
With files from the Associated Press
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