Wednesday, May 25, 2005
BBC NEWS | Europe | Amnesty accuses US over 'torture':
"Governments around the world betrayed their commitment to human rights in 2004, Amnesty International says.
In a 300-page annual report, the group accused the US government of damaging human rights with its attitude to torture and treatment of detainees.
This granted 'a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity', the human rights advocates said.
In Washington, a White House spokesman branded the allegations 'ridiculous and unsupported by the facts.'
'The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world,' said Scott McClellan.
The report also criticised the world as a whole for failing to act over crises, notably in Sudan's Darfur region.
Afghanistan was slipping into a 'downward spiral of lawlessness and instability', it added.
Published on Wednesday, the report accused governments of adhering stubbornly to 'politically convenient' but inefficient tactics to address terrorism in 2004, despite what Amnesty saw as a lack of success.
Sudanese refugees in Darfur
Amnesty International Report 2005 - Introduction (935K)
A-Z summary of key countries (1MB)
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The televised beheading of captives in Iraq, the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid and the siege at a school in Beslan in Russia showed that 'four years after 9/11, the promise to make the world a safer place remains hollow', secretary general Irene Khan said.
In Iraq some of the violence could be blamed on armed groups but the report also blamed US-led coalition forces for 'unlawful killings, torture and other violations'.
'Torture and ill-treatment by US-led forces were widely reported,' it added.
The report also highlighted the London-based organisation's concerns about:
* A lack of accountability for human rights violations in Haiti and in the Democratic Republic of Congo
* Reported abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya
* New levels of brutality against civilians by armed groups in places like Iraq
* Slow progress in achieving the Millennium Development goals
* Indifference to violence against women
* Lack of a full independent investigation into abuses against detainees in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.