Back to Index
Rights Watch urges EU to take lead in fighting repression worldwide
January 12, 2007
The European Union should take the lead in promoting respect for
human rights internationally because the United States, its reputation
sullied by harsh treatment of suspected terrorists, has forfeited
that role, a leading rights group said.
In a 556-page
report, the New York-based Human Rights Watch also said rights conditions
in China "deteriorated significantly" in 2006 as authorities
confronted rising social unrest with "stricter controls of
the press, Internet, academics and lawyers."
The report Thursday
found a "further deterioration" in rights protection in
Russia, symbolized by the murder last fall of investigative journalist
displayed a "heavy hand" against political dissent in
2006 by renewing emergency rule for an additional two years, which
provided a continued basis for arbitrary detention and trials before
military and state security courts, the report said.
As for Israel,
the report accused the Israeli Defense Forces of violating the laws
of war "by failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians"
during the summer conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
role on the rights front diminished, the European Union today "should
be the strongest and most effective defender of human rights,"
wrote the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth.
But, he added,
the EU's effort to achieve consensus among its diverse members "is
so laborious that it yields a faint shadow of its potential."
a "demise of U.S. credibility as an effective promoter of human
the United States can still talk in broad terms about democracy,"
he told reporters, "it cannot credibly combat efforts to"
detain terror suspects without cause.
The voice of
the United States, meanwhile, "now rings hollow — an
enormous loss for the human rights cause," Roth said in an
essay at the start of the report.
year dispelled any doubt that the use of torture and other mistreatment
by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush was a matter
of policy dictated at the top rather than the aberrant misconduct
of a few low-level interrogators," he wrote.
low point for the administration, he said, occurred last September
when Bush offered a defense of torture, referring to it euphemistically
as an "alternative set of (interrogation) procedures."
At the time,
Bush acknowledged that CIA interrogation techniques were tough but
said they fell short of torture. He promoted their effectiveness,
saying they helped take "potential mass murderers off the streets."
Roth said the
administration also wrongfully claims the power to detain without
judicial supervision any non-American anywhere in the world as an
"enemy combatant" and to hold him without charge or trial
as long as it wants.
The report was
released on the fifth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay
detention center in Cuba. The EU has called for the closure of the
In a separate
essay, Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch challenged the new U.N.
secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, to speak out forcefully
in defense of human rights.
Korea's foreign minister, he was willing to subordinate human rights
concerns to other objectives in his country's dialogue with North
Korea," Hicks said. "In his new position, he will need
to take on those who want to overlook human rights for the sake
of political expediency and confront those responsible for human
assessment of some other countries:
The human rights situation worsened significantly in 2006. The
continuing armed conflict became increasingly sectarian in nature,
with many commentators declaring the onset of a civil war.
By late 2006, Afghanistan was on the precipice of again becoming
a haven for human rights abusers, criminals, and militant extremists,
many of whom in the past have severely abused Afghans, particularly
women and girls.
By pouring aid and investment into countries guilty of widespread
rights abuses, China put its own economic and political interests
above the rights of mistreated citizens. Among such countries
were Sudan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. China failed to use its influence
to promote better human rights in these countries.
Dissent over a May 2006 peace accord for Darfur generated further
conflict and serious abuses of civilians, including forced displacement,
rape, killings, and increasing attacks on humanitarian aid workers.
Overall, Sudan's human rights record remained abysmal in 2006.
Respect for basic human rights in Iran, especially freedom of
expression and assembly, deteriorated in 2006. The government
routinely tortures and mistreats detained dissidents, including
through prolonged solitary confinement.
Korea: The authorities allowed neither the freedom of
information, association, movement, and religion, nor organized
political opposition, labor activism, or independent civil society.
Arbitrary arrests, torture, lack of due process and fair trials,
and executions remain of grave concern.
Asked to comment
on the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said
at a regular press briefing Thursday: "The so-called Human
Rights Watch organization has studied China on numerous occasions,
but it is a pity is that when they examine China they do so with
a prejudiced attitude. The group has a prejudiced view of China
and their report is politically motivated.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.