Amnesty slams 'blind pursuit' of security
Date: Thursday, May 27 2004
Topic: Canadian Politics
LONDON - Canada is one of the countries sacrificing human rights in the name of stepped-up national security, Amnesty International said in its annual report Wednesday. The human rights group said the "blind pursuit of security" that began after Sept. 11, 2001 has produced the most sustained attack on human rights in half a century.
Several governments have introduced "regressive" anti-terrorist legislation, including Spain, France and Uzbekistan, the report said.
Amnesty singled out Canada for holding at least five men alleged to pose a risk to national security. They were detained on "security certificates" that allow them to be held without charge and denied full access to the evidence against them.
Amnesty also mentioned the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who was deported from the U.S. to Syria in 2002.
The U.S. said he was arrested on suspicion of having terrorist links. Arar was held for a year without being charged and says he was tortured while in custody in Syria.
A public inquiry into the case is set to begin in Ottawa next month.
U.S. has 'lost its moral high ground'
Amnesty saved its harshest criticism for the U.S., citing the hundreds of detainees from about 40 countries who are being held without charge by U.S. forces in Iraq, Cuba and Afghanistan.
The U.S. has lost its moral high ground and its ability to lead, said Irene Khan, secretary general of the human rights group.
"Sacrificing human rights in the name of national security, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force when and where the powerful choose has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world are more dangerous and divided place," Khan said.
The U.S.-led war on terror has given governments in "virtually every corner of the world" an excuse to abuse human rights, said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
It's a trend now "firmly established on the global-political agenda," Neve said. "Many [governments] are using it as a pretext for persecution of ethnic groups."
Written by CBC News Online staff