Amnesty International Criticizes war on terrorism

The Associated Press
Tuesday May 28, 2002


WASHINGTON — The widespread detention of mostly Arabs and Muslims after the September terrorist attacks has hurt America’s ability to criticize human rights violations in other countries, Amnesty International charges in a report being released Tuesday. 

The annual report on worldwide human rights violations criticized the indefinite detainment of more than 1,100 individuals since the attacks in New York and Washington. 

The actions have been taken in an attempt to find links to terrorists, but eight months after the attacks only a handful of individuals have been charged with a crime. 

“Citizens around the world suffer the consequences when the U.S. defaults on its responsibility to promote human rights,” said William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA. 

Schulz said the actions of the U.S. government as part of its war on terrorism “provide a de facto green light for other nations to ignore fundamental human rights standards.” 

In addition to the detention of hundreds of Arabs in the United States, the human rights groups accused the Bush administration of “selective recognition” of the Geneva Convention which governs the treatment of prisoners in time of war. 

The group criticized the refusal of the Bush administration to classify the Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay as prisoners of war. It also scolded the administration for leaving open the possibility of bringing some of the Guantanamo prisoners before military tribunals. 

Separately, the report documented a decline in the number of countries that used the death penalty, from 40 countries in 1997 to 27 last year, including the United States. And the group also found a decrease in the number of nations using torture on prisoners, from 90 percent in 2000 to 73 percent last year.