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13 Jan, 2007 19:36

Human Rights Watch report targets leading countries

Human Rights Watch report targets leading countries

Human Rights Watch has released its annual report, painting a somewhat grim picture on abuse of fundamental rights worldwide. The group said the demise of U.S. credibility in matters of human rights has left a gap in that area.

In the annual report, Human Rights Watch focused on the abuse of counterterrorism measures applied by the United States, claiming the country has 'forfeited its credibility as a world leader on the matter'.

“Perhaps foremost, the foremost thing that comes to mind for me is the demise of U.S. credibility as an effective promoter of human rights. We chose today to release our world report because today is also the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at Guantanamo. And there is no better symbol for why U.S. credibility has been undermined on the human rights front than Guantanamo,” stated Kenneth Roth, HRW director.

However, according to the organisation, the EU, Russia, and China were not far behind. The EU was advised to focus on Darfur issue, and the North Caucasus topped the 4 page-report devoted to Russia.

And those in Russian human rights organisations agree with the report.

“I'd say it's a pretty accurate report for what it is,” claims Aleksandr Cherkasov from Memorial group. “The problem of the North Caucasus, and most of all Chechnya, is what needs to be focused upon. The fact that we still haven't ratified the 14th protocol of the Human Rights convention is very bad, and I believe if we did ratify it, the situation would improve.”

The importance of the protocol's signing was also stressed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe president, Rene Van Der Linden, during his visit to Moscow. He did point out however, that since joining the Council, Russia has come a long way, saying that “Russia has made a good improvement in the 10 years, and I hope to see the situation improve more”.

The emphasis on freedom of the press can also be found in the report, with the spotlight on deaths of journalists in Iraq, and the murder of Russia's investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Head of the Demos Centre, Tatyana Lokshina, explained why the journalists' murder has been highlighted by Human Rights Watch. “She was an international authority, so to speak, on matters related to Chechnya. Many in the West listened to her and respected her opinion. And so it was thought that she would be above something like this happening to her,” Ms Lokshina thinks.

Overall, many human rights organisations in Russia agree on the reports accuracy and relevancy and hope that it will be taken into consideration by officials.

The report stressed, that role of the world leader in the support of human rights should be taken by the EU. It should use its position and 'fill the void' left by the United States in all matters, including using its influence for the better implementation of human rights in Russia.