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Amnesty Urges Bush To Maintain Human Rights

Amnesty International urges Bush administration to maintain human rights standards in response to 11 September attacks, and warns of looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

24 September 2001 AMR 51/142/2001 169/01

Amnesty International called on US President George W. Bush to uphold the highest international human rights standards in his administration's response to the horrific acts of September 11. The organization also called on the international community to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis on Afghanistan's borders.

In a letter to President Bush, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, reiterated the organization's condemnation of the attacks and said, "As with all victims of violent crime, human rights violations and abuses, the suffering of victims, survivors and the bereaved demands compassion and justice. We urge you to lead your government to take every necessary human rights precaution in the pursuit of justice, rather than revenge, for the victims of this terrible crime."

Irene Khan also urged the President to ensure "that anger does not give way to retaliatory injustices." Amnesty International noted President Bush's remarks in support of Muslim American and other vulnerable communities and strongly condemned attacks incited by identity-based discrimination.

Amnesty International has urged the Bush Administration and the United Nations Security Council to use all appropriate means to bring those responsible for the September 11 attacks to justice "within the framework of a fair and accountable criminal justice system, and with full respect for international standards for a fair trial."

The organization also urged the Administration to "fully explore every measure possible to bring the perpetrators to justice before resorting to armed intervention."

In the event of armed intervention, Amnesty International urged all parties to conduct operations in a manner that upholds at all times the highest standards of human rights and humanitarian law. "This includes taking all precautions to spare civilians, and in particular avoiding direct attacks on civilian or civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks and attacks on military targets that have a disproportionate impact on civilians," Irene Khan wrote.

The organization asked for clarification on public statements by administration officials suggesting that the 1976 ban on US participation in assassinations may be rescinded. Amnesty International also expressed concern about certain counter-terrorism measures being considered by the US Congress, in particular, indefinite detention without evidence or judicial review of individuals suspected as terrorists. Irene Khan noted that the practices are contrary to international human rights standards.

Amnesty International also called for the international community to address the brewing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, as several hundred thousand people are trying to flee the country, fearing imminent attack. With all surrounding borders sealed, Amnesty International has called for Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan to open their borders to refugees from Afghanistan. This exodus adds to the 1.1 million Afghans already internally displaced due to drought, armed conflict and food shortages and the approximate two million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

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