In its annual report on human rights, Amnesty International says the war on terrorism in the Western Hemisphere has undermined civil liberites and human rights across the region. Tightening security has led to hundreds of unlawful detentions in Colombia and torture of prisoners in a dozen other countries.
In its report on Colombia, Amnesty says security measures under the current president exacerbated the already appalling political violence. By Amnesty's count, more than 4,000 civilians were killed for political reasons in 2002, while more than 2,700 were kidnapped by guerrilla groups or paramilitary forces.
Amnesty says, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and unlawful killings by security forces have been recorded in a score of countries, from Mexico to Patagonia. It accuses police in Jamaica of killing at least 133 people, and security forces in Argentina and Venezuela of shooting political demonstrators.
Peru, according to the report, continues to hold a number of political dissenters in jail, while Cuba has recently imprisoned dozens more. Prison conditions in those countries, and a dozen others, the report says, are very poor.
On the plus side, Amnesty said some countries, including Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, have made progress in investigating past human rights abuses and punishing violators.