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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid