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Statement On Rights Discussion With Secretary Rice

Amnesty International Statement on Human Rights Discussion with Secretary Rice

(Washington, DC)--Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement at the conclusion of a meeting in Washington, DC, between human rights leaders and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday, Dec. 10--International Human Rights Day:

"The ability of the United States government to be an effective advocate for human rights abroad is directly related to its own practices and policies on human rights. If the United States continues to violate human rights in fighting terror--holding more than 300 individuals without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay, "disappearing" and otherwise mistreating suspects captured in the "war on terror"--then it risks having people around the world question the seriousness overall of the U.S. commitment to human rights. Adherence to international law on torture and other human rights standards must be unqualified. Otherwise, the U.S. message abroad lacks credibility and risks undermining its own strong response to human rights crackdowns in places like Burma. The United States must begin to restore its leadership in promoting human rights worldwide by protecting all fundamental and internationally recognized human rights here at home.

Today, we shared our collective concerns with Secretary Rice about pressing human rights violations in two areas of the world--Darfur and Pakistan. We have asked the United States to insist that General Musharraf immediately restore the judiciary, reinstate the Supreme Court, lift restrictions on the free press and release from detention and house arrest individuals who have been held since the declaration of the state of emergency in Pakistan. All of these steps are necessary for meaningful restoration of human rights in Pakistan.

On Darfur, murder, rape and violence against civilians continue unabated. Although the United Nations-African Union joint peacekeeping force is scheduled to deploy next year, it is now threatened by a lack of resources, and especially helicopters, that are critical for the deployment. Deploying the mission without adequate resources would set the mission up for failure. We are asking the United States to use its influence to broker an arrangement among countries for resources to support the mission. Additionally, we have asked the Bush administration to demand that the Sudanese government hand over two of its top officials who are under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur. The continued freedom of these two men, Ahmed Haroun and "Ali Kosheib" (Ali Mohammed Ali), makes a mockery of justice. The United States must use its influence to make certain that these indictments are not simply useless pieces of paper and that justice will be served for the victims of Darfur."


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