Amnesty criticizes 'human rights crisis' in territories
 
By Yosef Algazy, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Haaretz.       May 28,2003
 
 
The Amnesty International annual report into global
human rights abuses in 2002 released Wednesday
includes an extensive criticism of the "Human
rights crisis in Israel and the occupied
Palestinian territories." According to the report,
people are killed and wounded in the territories
day after day, their homes are destroyed and their movement is extremely restricted.

Human rights groups, including
Amnesty members in Israel and
in the Palestinian Authority
have been facing great dangers
as the violence escalated. The
number of Palestinian and
Israel victims doubled in 2002
compared with the previous
year, with more than 100
Palestinian children and 47
 
Israeli children dead.

During the year 2002, 158 Israeli citizens
refusing the serve in the territories were
sentenced by the IDF to jail sentences, some of
them for a sentence of over six months. They were
all declared prisoners of conscious by the
organization.

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

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 September 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
September 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 spiraling 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."