Jan 16, 2009

World - Rights watchdog points finger at U.S.

Richard Norton-Taylor

Governments indulging in abuse and repression, including the U.S., are avoiding human rights legislation and international justice by hiding behind the principle of national sovereignty, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published on Wednesday. Abusive practices throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, have got worse as governments cling to the concept of non-interference. The U.S., specifically by secretly re ndering prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, has abdicated its traditional role as defender of human rights, it adds.

The 546-page annual survey says Barack Obama’s administration will have to put human rights at the heart of foreign, domestic and security policy if it is to undo what it calls “the enormous damage” of the George Bush years.

“For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. has a chance to regain its global credibility by turning the page on the abusive policies of the Bush administration,” said Kenneth Roth, the HRW executive director. “The new Obama administration must abandon the Bush administration’s policy of hyper-sovereignty. As a vital first step, Mr. Obama and his team should radically rethink how they fight terrorism. It’s not only wrong but ineffectual to commit abuses in the name of fighting terrorism.”

Mr. Obama should also commit the U.S. to the international criminal court, he said. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009

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