Thursday, 8 March 2007

US human rights report: Darfur genocide worst

See the report, which is, surprisingly, not half bad, on the US State Department’s website.

There was also a bit of self-criticism in the report, which documented the state of human rights throughout the world in 2006. American human rights have taken a hit in the so-called war on terror following 9/11.

Human rights in Iran were said to have worsened at a time when Washington is spraying Tehran with accusations of meddling in Iraq and being a negative influence in the Middle East, and the two countries are finally to meet and discuss the massive mess that is Iraq, though not face-to-face.

Pakistan, a supposed ally with the US in the war on terror, has not improved its record. Russia, China, Afghanistan, and North Korea are also given a fair beating in the report. But out of all these incidents, Darfur, the region of Sudan in which genocide has been — and is being — committed, remains the most stark.


… the State Department said the U.S. government, too, had fallen short of international standards in its handling of terrorism suspects.

Barry Lowenkron, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, told reporters: "We recognize that we are issuing this report at a time when our own record and actions we have taken to respond to the terrorist attacks against us have been questioned. We will continue to respond to the concerns of others."

"The Sudanese government and government-backed janjaweed militia bear responsibility for the genocide in Darfur," the report says. An estimated 200,000 people have died in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. The report cites "serious abuses, including widespread killing of civilians, rape as a tool of war, systematic torture, robbery and recruitment of child soldiers."

The report devotes 44 pages to Iraq, dealing largely with the dynamics of the continuing violence there. As in last year's report, accusations were cited of extensive police involvement in the disappearances and torture of prisoners. Corruption, it said, was widespread at "all levels of government."

The rights situation in Afghanistan also remained poor — violence there increased sharply last year — but the nation's police were being more closely monitored and better trained, the reports asserts.

The assessment that a poor human rights record in Iran had worsened came days before American and Iranian diplomats are to sit down in Baghdad for talks on stabilizing Iraq.

The North Korean record also remained poor, the report says, including the alleged executions of political prisoners. The United States recently joined in a six-party agreement aimed at halting that country's nuclear program.

Liberia, Congo, Ukraine, and Morocco have all made notably good improvement. China, while not getting significantly worse, has also not made enough progress.

Russia is getting worse, as the most recent death of a journalist illustrates. Chechnya abuses and killings, kidnappings, and other incidents of a political motive are on the rise in Russia, whose President Putin has gone back-and-forth with US Vice President Cheney exchanging opposing rhetoric. Russia has re-found international prominence in the revenue's, political and financial, generated by its state-owned natural gas company, Gazprom.

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