World News

Factbox: Excerpts from Amnesty International 2009 report

LONDON (Reuters) - Human rights group Amnesty International released its 2009 annual report on “The State of the World’s Human Rights” on Thursday. Following are excerpts from the report on selected countries.

AFGHANISTAN -- “Afghan people continued to suffer widespread human rights violations ... Access to health care, education and humanitarian aid deteriorated, particularly in the south and southeast of the country, due to escalating armed conflict between Afghan and international forces and the Taliban and other armed groups.”

CHINA -- “The authorities continued to tighten restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association due partly to sensitivities surrounding a series of landmark anniversaries, including the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic on October 1. Human rights defenders were detained, prosecuted, held under house arrest and subjected to enforced disappearance. Pervasive internet and media controls remained.”

COLOMBIA -- “The internal armed conflict continued to have devastating consequences on the civilian population, with indigenous communities particularly hard hit. All the warring parties -- including the security forces, guerrilla groups and paramilitary groups -- were responsible for serious human rights abuses...”

IRAN - “An intensified clampdown on political protest preceded and, particularly, followed the presidential election in June ... The security forces, notably the paramilitary Basij, used excessive force against demonstrators; dozens of people were killed ... The authorities suppressed freedom of expression to an unprecedented level, blocking mobile and terrestrial phone networks and internet communications. Well over 5,000 people had been detained by the end of the year. Many were tortured, including some who were alleged to have been raped in detention, or otherwise ill-treated. Some died from their injuries.”

IRAQ - “Government forces and armed political groups continued to commit gross human rights abuses, although the overall level of violence was lower than in previous years. Thousands of civilians were killed or seriously injured in suicide and other bomb attacks by armed political groups. The government and the U.S.-led Multinational Force continued to hold thousands of uncharged detainees on security grounds, some after several years, but released thousands of others.”

ISRAEL - “Israeli forces committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive codenamed Operation ‘Cast Lead’ that ended on 18 January (2009). Among other things, they carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’, and indiscriminately fired white phosphorus over densely populated residential areas. More than 1,380 Palestinians, including over 330 children and hundreds of other civilians, were killed.”

MYANMAR - “Almost 2,200 political prisoners remained behind bars. Most were held in abysmal conditions and many suffered from poor physical and psychological health.”

NIGERIA - “The police continued to commit with impunity a wide range of human rights violations, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearances.”

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY - “During Operation ‘Cast Lead’ ... Hamas forces and militias in the Gaza Strip continued to fire indiscriminate rockets and mortars into Israel, and within Gaza they abducted political opponents and former detainees alleged to have ‘collaborated’ with the Israeli intelligence services; some were summarily killed, others were beaten or shot in the legs.”

SRI LANKA - “Some 300,000 Tamil civilians were displaced by armed conflict, and subsequently detained in government camps ... Civilians were trapped for months prior to the conflict’s end in May without adequate food, shelter, sanitation and medical care, or access to humanitarian aid. The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) used civilians as human shields and used threats and violence to prevent them from fleeing the conflict zone.”

SUDAN - “Widespread human rights abuses by the government and armed groups continued. The conflict in Darfur was less intense than in previous years but nevertheless continued, with attacks on civilians and humanitarian convoys among violations of international humanitarian law committed by all sides to the conflict. Hundreds of civilians were killed. Violence against women, including rape, remained widespread ...”

BRITAIN - “Reports implicating the UK in grave violations of human rights of people held overseas continued to emerge. Calls for independent investigations into the UK’s role in these violations went unheeded ... The implementation of measures adopted with the stated aim of countering terrorism led to human rights violations, including unfair judicial proceedings.”

UNITED STATES - “One hundred and ninety-eight detainees remained held in Guantanamo detention centre at the end of 2009, despite a commitment by the new administration to close the facility by 22 January 2010 ... Further details emerged of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees held in the Central Intelligence Agency secret detention programme, terminated by President Obama.”

YEMEN - “The authorities detained thousands of people in connection with protests in the south and elsewhere and amid renewed fighting in Sa’da in the north ... Torture and other ill-treatment were reported and there was at least one suspicious death in custody.”

ZIMBABWE - “The human rights situation improved slightly with the setting up of a unity government in February. However, harassment and intimidation persisted of human rights defenders, political activists and supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.”