News / USA

    Watchdog Group Warns of 'Dangerous Expansion' of State Power

    Members of India's Karnataka state police counter terrorism group display their skills during an event in Bangalore, India, June 30, 2011.
    Members of India's Karnataka state police counter terrorism group display their skills during an event in Bangalore, India, June 30, 2011.
    Selah Hennessy
    LONDON — The watchdog group Human Rights Watch says many world governments downgraded concerns about protecting human rights, in favor of more aggressive measures aimed at countering terrorism. An HRW report published Friday says the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, were the catalyst for this trend.

    The report says the impact of the attacks in 2001 has not been limited to the United States or even, more broadly, to western nations, but has spanned the globe.

    144 countries, it says, have brought in new counterterrorism laws or amended old ones, and in many cases the changes have opened the door to abuse.

    Reed Brody is a spokesman for the U.S.-based research group. "What we have seen is that around the world people are using the threat of terrorism - or even making up the threat of terrorism sometimes - to justify measures that violate due process. Peaceful opponents, separatists, political opponents are being labeled terrorists," he said.

    Human Rights Watch says it has many examples of how laws to counter terrorism have been misused.

    It highlights the U.S. detention without charge of hundreds of detainees at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    In Turkey, the report says hundreds of non-violent protesters have been convicted and jailed under counterterrorism laws, and in Bahrain, opposition leaders have been convicted of criminal charges for criticizing the monarchy’s human-rights record.

    "In Ethiopia, students who were writing articles criticizing the government were convicted of crimes such as providing moral support for terrorism," stated Brody.

    Andrew Mumford is a counterinsurgency expert at Britain’s University of Nottingham.

    Internationally, he says, the rules have completely changed since the suicide attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people almost 12 years ago.

    "The 9/11 attacks engendered the rewriting of the counterterrorism rule book across the Western world and beyond. The shocking nature of the attacks really encouraged the counterterrorism community to really look at the rule books, look at the law books," Mumford said. "And say nothing is now too out of the ordinary to legislate against."

    Mumford agrees with the rights group's view that many governments set too low a priority for human rights concerns. The problem, he says, is that by undermining human rights governments perpetuate discontent, which can escalate terror. "A lack of adherence to human-rights considerations when formulating counterterrorism policy is that the failure to adhere to them is entirely counterproductive," he said.

    The Human Rights Watch report says some countries have resisted the shift toward tougher counterterrorism legislation. It highlights Norway, where gunman Anders Behring Breivik was tried and convicted this year as a common criminal for shooting dead 69 people and killing eight more in a bomb attack.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora