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Amnesty: Governments Using War as Cover for Rights Abuses


The Associated Press, Mar. 31, 2003

"Some governments are using the conflict in Iraq to muzzle human rights, Amnesty International said today. The group said that since the start of the U.S.-led war it had found evidence of abuses in 14 countries, including combatants the United States and Britain. 'Governments appear to be using the world's focus on the theatre of war to violate human rights shielded from public scrutiny,' Amnesty said in a report. The report said people in several countries had been prevented from demonstrating against the war."
"In Belgium, the group said, some 450 anti-war activists were placed under preventive arrest, while British police had used anti-terrorist laws to stop and search people 'without reasonable suspicion.' Amnesty also documented cases in which police used excessive force against demonstrators. The worst was in Sudan, where three students reportedly were killed during anti-war demonstrations in Khartoum."
"The United States was criticised for detaining an unknown number of asylum seekers from Iraq and more than 30 other countries for background checks as part of a national security plan dubbed Operation Liberty Shield. The group also alleged abuses in Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Yemen. Amnesty representatives were planning to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Tony Blair's London residence later today asking Britain to abide by international law during the war."
"The group says it fears coalition forces will not respect the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners and protection of civilians during war. 'We are seeing civilians being killed or injured and we have worries about the nature of the strikes and the bombs,' said Amnesty spokesman Neil Durkin. 'Have they been properly targeted, were they discriminate or indiscriminate?' Amnesty also wants coalition forces to promise not to use cluster bombs or land mines during the conflict. Britain has signed an international treaty banning the use of mines, but the United States has not."