Amnesty report raps post-Sept.11 policies
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has lost its "moral authority" as a defender of human rights because of violations the Bush administration has committed in the war on terrorism, Amnesty International claims in its annual report on human rights released Tuesday.
William F. Schulz, executive director of the organization's U.S. branch, told reporters Tuesday that while President Bush was a "bulldog" on fighting terrorism, he has become a "lap dog" in protecting human rights in the United States and around the globe.
"The world-shattering events of the past year -- the tragic September 11 attacks, the war on terrorism, and the constant carnage in the Middle East -- have tested our resolve as a nation and, similarly, they have been a test of the Bush's administration's commitment to human rights," Schulz said.
"It is a test our government has largely failed."
The 300-page Amnesty International Report 2002 (covering events in 2001) assesses human rights abuses in 152 countries and territories around the world.
Amnesty says America has used the September 11 attacks as an excuse to stray from its promise to treat people humanely, effectively trading human rights in the interest of security.
The group identifies eight human rights failings on the part of the U.S. government.
In addition to its long-standing complaint about the U.S. use of the death penalty, the organization criticizes the Bush administration's plans to use military tribunals for suspected terrorists and its selective adherence to Geneva Conventions for prisoners at its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The failure of the U.S. government to fully apply the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay makes it far less likely that we will criticize allies for picking and choosing which treaties they will uphold," Schulz said.
The report criticizes the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan and charges that the killing of civilians, collateral damage to civilian homes and the death of prisoners near Mazar e-Sharif last November constituted human rights abuses that border on violating international law.
Amnesty claims the United States and other countries have taken sweeping measures since September 11 that violate human rights, such as detaining foreign nationals for unlimited periods of time and passing legislation which curtails civil liberties.
"When it comes to confronting terrorism, President Bush is a bulldog. But when it comes to confronting the human rights violations of our allies in the war against terrorism, he turns into a lap dog," Schulz said.
"And when the government gives a de facto green light for others to ignore fundamental human rights standards it places tens of thousands of lives at risk around the globe."
The Amnesty report charges the United States has given a pass to its allies in the war on terrorism, failing to criticize abuses by Russia in Chechnya and by Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Colombia.
The report calls Colombia "a deepening human rights crisis ... another tragic example of the Administration's unwillingness to provide moral leadership on human rights." It says an average of 12 people were killed or "disappeared" for political reasons each day last year in Colombia.
It criticizes the United States for failing to push Israel to stop human rights abuses against Palestinians during incursions into the West Bank.
"We have joined the president in his unreserved condemnation of suicide bombings ... but we have also spoken out about President Bush's apparent inability or unwillingness to firmly and consistently insist that Israeli forces end incursions that lead to human rights violations," Schulz said.
"As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. military aid, including weapons that were used over the past months in the commission of human rights violations, the United States has an obligation to insist that international law be upheld."
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