Amnesty International Sees Pervasive Violations; Human Rights Casualty in War on Terrorism, Group says.(WORLD)

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Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Amnesty International yesterday accused just about every government in the world of hiding behind the war on terrorism to abuse human rights and said that the United States has "abdicated" its moral leadership in the field.

In its annual report released yesterday, the 41-year-old human rights watchdog put the word "terrorism" in quotation marks because of the lack of an "agreed-upon international definition of terrorism."

"Our report found that human rights violations take place in almost every country in the world," William Schulz, Amnesty's U.S. executive director told reporters at the National Press Club.

"Torture and ill treatment are the most common violations, occurring in 111 countries in 2001," Mr. Schulz said.

After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last year, emergency anti-terrorist legislation and changes in trial and detention procedures contributed to an atmosphere of repression and undermined universal principles of human rights, the report said.

"What happened on September 11 was a crime against humanity, a gross human rights violation of thousands of people," Amnesty's secretary-general, Irene Khan, said in London, where the organization is based. But "in the days, weeks and months that followed, governments around the world eroded human rights in the name of security and anti-terrorism."

The report criticized new laws in Western nations, particularly in the United States, Britain and Canada, that make it easier to deport and detain foreign suspects.

It also lashed out at Washington for its decision to bring detainees in Guantanamo Bay captured in Afghanistan before military tribunals.

Amnesty's criticism of the United States, which is traditionally prompted by the death penalty, is much harsher this year. …