"Attempted" anit-terrorism efforts

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Posted by D from ( on Thursday, May 29, 2003 at 7:47PM :

Washington's "war on terror" has made the world more dangerous by curbing human rights, undermining international law and shielding governments from scrutiny, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Releasing its annual report into global human rights abuses in 2002, the London-based watchdog also urged the world to do more to sort out Iraq's problems now the Gulf War is over.

In one of its most critical sideswipes yet at the policies pursued by the government in Washington, Amnesty said the bid to stamp out terror in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had largely backfired.

"It has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins, sowing the seeds for more conflict," it said in a statement. "The overwhelming impact of all this is genuine fear across all sectors of society."

Amnesty said the world was not doing enough to solve post-conflict problems in Afghanistan and Iraq, both invaded and bombed by U.S.-led forces in the war on terror.

"There is a very real risk that Iraq will go the way of Afghanistan if no genuine effort is made to heed the call of the Iraqi people for law and order and full respect of human rights," said Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.

The group, which has become the world's biggest and most respected human rights group since its foundation over 40 years ago, highlighted the plight of over 600 detainees in a U.S. military camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who have been held without charge or trial since the end of the war in Afghanistan.

"While claiming to bring justice to victims in Iraq, the United States has actively sought to undermine the International Criminal Court, the mechanism for universal justice," it said.

It also detailed how Britain, Washington's main ally in the Afghan and Iraqi wars, had beefed up its anti-terrorism laws by, for example, increasing the length of time suspects can be held without charge from seven days to 14. Amnesty's 311-page report was not concerned solely with the crises triggered by the attacks of Sept. 11.

It said the intense media focus on Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 meant human rights abuses in Ivory Coast, Colombia, Burundi, Chechnya and Nepal had gone largely unnoticed.

Amnesty said the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remained "bleak, with continuing fighting and attacks on civilians." "In Burundi, government forces carried out extrajudicial killings, 'disappearances,' torture and other serious violations," it said.

Amnesty said the Colombian government had "exacerbated the spiralling cycle of political violence" by introducing new security measures.

"It is vital that we resist the manipulation of fear and challenge the narrow focus of the security agenda," Allen said. "The definition of security must be broadened to encompass the security of people, as well as states."

London - Reuters

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