Monday, May 22, 2006

Amnesty Releases Annual Report;
Section on Egypt criticizes government muzzling civil society


There's plenty of bad news throughout the 2006 Amnesty International Annual Report. However, to AI Executive Director Larry Cox, the most disappointing news was that the continued efforts bo the world's greatest powers, including the United States, was draining resources and attention from some of the greatest tragedies on earth.

" It is difficult to believe that the United States government, which once considered itself an exemplar of human rights, has sacrificed its most fundamental principles by abusing prisoners as a matter of policy, by ‘disappearing’ detainees into a network of secret prisons and by abducting and sending people for interrogation to countries that practice torture such as Egypt, Syria and Morocco," Cox said. "It remains the most painful of truths that its policies on torture make it possible to add the United States to a shameful list of governments that includes those once led by Augusto Pinochet and Hafez al-Assad.

"Even less known than the outsourcing of torture is the U.S. government’s extensive outsourcing of military detention, security and intelligence operations, which may be fueling serious human rights abuses. And most of those who commit these abuses seem to be getting away with it."

But it is certainly not just the United States. China and Russia also comes in for significant criticism. China continues to imprison tens of thousands of political prisoners, including in psychiatric hospitals; Amnesty International documented at least 1,770 executions last year, though the number is likely to be far higher, Cox said. As with the U.S., their efforts held back real resolution of problem areas such as Darfur and restricted real reform and democratic hopes in places such as Egypt.

Speaking of Egypt, the report hit upon the main themes of human rights abuses AI has repeatedly addressed throughout the year. Systemmatic torture, a lack of political and legal rights, continued use of State of Emergency powers to limit civil society and civil rights and continued use of the death penalty. Armed groups were also criticized for bombings in Cairo and Sharm el-Sheikh.

Here's the section on Egypt:

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