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Thursday, April 14, 2005

HRW Report: Still at Risk

Human Rights Watch released a report entitled Still at Risk: Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard Against Torture, in which it condemns the practice of forced renditions of terror suspects to countries known for systemic torture and human rights abuses.

The report states that Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen are known to have received detainees, and that such renditions have also been effected or proposed to countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Russia, Tunisia, and Turkey, where members of particular groups -- Islamists, Chechens, Kurds -- are routinely singled out for the worst forms of abuse.

Countries transfering their detainees to these countries rely upon "diplomatic assurances" that the receiving country will not torture or mistreat the detainees. This is either naivety, or simply a way for sending countries to divert criticism, and avoid culpability for a practice that is patently illegal. Numerous and credible reports of the torture of renditioned detainees make naivety the less parsimonious of the two explanations.

The countries engaging in this practice are named as follows: The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Georgia.

HRW director Kenneth Roth is quoted as saying "Governments that are using diplomatic assurances know full well that they don't protect against torture, but in the age of terror, they're convenient. Only pressure from the public in Europe and North America can stop this negative trend."


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