World’s leading nations violate human rights: Amnesty

May 28th, 2008 - 1:50 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
New York, May 28 (DPA) Amnesty International Wednesday delivered fierce charges against the US and the European Union (EU) for failing to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), demanding they apologise to the world. The London-based human rights advocacy group also singled out several countries for their failures, including China, for consistently flaunting the UDHR, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year.

“World leaders owe an apology for failing to deliver on the promise of justice and equality in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Amnesty said.

Its annual Report 2008 details violations of the principles adopted by the UN Dec 10, 1948.

The group said people are still tortured or ill-treated in 81 countries, face unfair trials in 54 countries and have no freedom of expression in 77 countries, despite 60 years of living under the directives agreed to in the declaration.

Amnesty urged the world’s most powerful nations to lead by example and to show a shared global vision and collective leadership on human rights, which is currently lacking.

“Can the EU or its member states call for respect for human rights by China and Russia when they themselves are complicit in torture?” the report asked, referring to allegations that some EU members agreed to US schemes to torture detainees on their territories.

“Can it preach tolerance abroad when it has failed to tackle discrimination against Roma, Muslim and other minorities living within its borders,” it said.

“As the USA and the EU stumble on their human rights record, their ability to influence others declines,” Amnesty said.

The report strongly criticised the Bush White House for transforming the debate on human rights into a “divisive and destructive” fight between Western and non-Western camps since the terrorist attacks Sep 11, 2001.

The report denounced the current US administration for laws that weakened the ban on torture, including measures such as “water boarding”, a technique that simulates drowning. It said US President George W. Bush authorised the Central Intelligence Agency to continue the secret detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

“The US government has failed to ensure full accountability for abuses by its forces in Iraq,” the report said.

“The hollowness of the US administration’s call for democracy and freedom abroad was displayed in its continued support of (Pakistani) President Pervez Musharraf as he arrested thousands of lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists for demanding democracy, the rule of law and an independent judiciary,” it said.

Amnesty asked the new US president, to be elected in November, to close Guantanamo.

The report accused China, which is sought by other nations for its emerging economic and political clout, of transferring weapons to Sudan despite a UN arms embargo, and of arming Myanmar’s military junta.

“China has long justified its support for abusive governments, such as those in Sudan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe by defining human rights as an internal matter for sovereign states, and not as an issue for its foreign policy, as it suited China’s political and commercial interests,” the report said.

Amnesty asked Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev to improve human rights in his country by drawing on lessons that long-term political and economic stability can be built in an open society and a state that is accountable.

Amnesty said human rights are not Western values, but are global values that should be upheld by the UN as it celebrates this year the 60th anniversary of the declaration.

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