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Amnesty Sees Duplicity in 'War on Terror'


Amnesty International has accused the United States and other major powers setting aside human rights protections in the war on terror. The London-based human rights group has released its annual report.

The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, told a London news conference the world's biggest powers have much to answer for in the field of human rights.

"Powerful governments are playing a dangerous game with human rights," Ms. Khan says. "Those with power and influence - the United States, European Union members, China and Russia - have been either complicit or compromised by human-rights violations in 2005, at home and abroad."

Ms. Khan has singled out the United States for particular criticism over the detention of suspected terrorists at a military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Some 460 people of around 40 different nationalities remain in Guantanamo," Ms. Khan says. "And their desperation is evident in the number of suicide attempts - in one case 12 times - and hunger strikes. Guantanamo is a powder keg, waiting to explode."

The United States denies human-rights abuses occur at Guantanamo. American officials say the United States would like to close Guantanamo and repatriate the prisoners, but in some cases their home countries are reluctant to take them back.

Another of Amnesty International's big concerns is the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, where two million people have been displaced and hundreds of thousand have died. The group says it wants the United Nations and the African Union to address the conflict and end human-rights abuses in Darfur.

Ms. Khan says the conduct of Russia and China in Sudan is especially troublesome.

"U.N. Security Council members did not just doze through the killings in Sudan," Ms. Khan says. "Two of them - Russia and China - actively worked to preserve their own economic interests there, of oil and arms trade. And the United States was keen and active to seek redress in Darfur, but its capacity was sapped by Iraq and its moral authority tarnished by the war on terror."

The Amnesty International report covers 150 countries, and catalogues a wide range of human-rights abuses from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Not all the news from 2005 was bad. Amnesty says the number of armed conflicts around the world continues to decline, and it praises the United Nations for overhauling its human-rights monitoring agency.

The report also repeated Amnesty International's desire for a global treaty to govern the trade of small arms.

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