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28 Dec, 2011 15:21

‘US violating human rights at home and abroad’ – Russian report

‘US violating human rights at home and abroad’ – Russian report

In a report released by the Foreign Ministry detailing human rights abuses around the world, the United States comes up short, cited for violations on both the domestic and foreign fronts.

The report says that the United States, on the pretext of fighting terrorism, is actually crushing the liberties and freedoms of the very individuals the security measures were intended to protect – the American people."The situation in the United States…is far from the ideals proclaimed in Washington," the report says. “The incumbent administration continues to apply most of the methods of controlling society and interfering in the private lives of the American people that were adopted by the special services under George Bush on the pretext of combating terror.”On October 26, 2001, a little over one month after the terror attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration rammed through the so-called Patriot Act, which many Congressmen admitted they did not have the time to read. Since the ratification of this draconian piece of legislation, the US government has been empowered to sift through emails, telephone calls – even the library books an individual may check out – all in the name of fighting against terrorism.The Foreign Ministry also noted that the White House and the Department of Justice "shelter from liability CIS operatives and high-ranking officials" connected with serious violations of human rights.In 2007, the International Red Cross released a shocking report, based on numerous interviews with detainees of Guantanamo Bay detention center, which revealed the existence of “black site” prisons at various locations in Eastern Europe.In December 2005, Dick Marty, the Swiss politician responsible for investigating the allegations on behalf of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, reported evidence that "individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards." Marty’s investigation has found no concrete evidence establishing the existence of secret prisons in Europe, but added that it was "highly unlikely" that European governments were unaware of the American program of renditions.In June 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe supported the conclusions of the report by Dick Marty (Resolution 1562 and Recommendation 1801).The Russian Foreign Ministry report went on to condemn “the exterritorial application of US legislation by the US administration,” which “seriously harms Russian-US relations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its report."It leads to violations of the basic rights and freedoms of Russians, including arbitrary arrests and abductions from third countries, cruel treatment, criminal prosecution on the basis of evidence given by false agents and doubtful evidence," the document reads, citing as examples the cases involving Russian citizens Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko.Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 by US and Thai police and extradited in 2010 to the United States to stand trial on charges of arms smuggling. Bout, who is currently incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City, says he has no hope for receiving a fair trial in the United States.In 2005, Hollywood released the film Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, which portrays a character based on the 'life' of Viktor Bout.Bout continues to maintain his innocence.

NATO – force for good?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which the United States is the primary sponsor, also fared poorly in the Foreign Ministry report.According to the document, NATO forces repeatedly violated humanitarian law in Libya by killing civilians and failing to prevent numerous crimes by the Libyan opposition. The statistics presented on civilian casualties provide a portrait of a military operation that was reckless at best."According to various information, intensive bombardment in the first days of the campaign (and even before the operation was headed by NATO) led to the deaths of civilians: from 64 to 90 civilians, including up to 40 people in Tripoli, and 150 were wounded. On May 13, 13 imams were killed and 50 imams were wounded during a collective prayer in the city of Brega. Nine people were killed during the bombing of Tripoli on June 19. Fifteen people, including three children, were killed as a result of NATO bombing on June 20," the report says.Meanwhile, NATO officials ignored crimes committed by the Libyan opposition, the report says."NATO did not take any effective measures on the numerous crimes committed by the former Libyan armed opposition registered by international human rights NGOs, including killings, violence,  ethnic crimes, etc., which essentially promoted such actions taken by the rebels," the report by the Russian Foreign Ministry says.The document emphasizes that NATO denies that the death of civilians was a result of the bombing carried out by the coalition forces at the official level."They are saying that the targets for the bombing were thoroughly selected to rule out civilian casualties. They said, referring to NATO’s support of the Interim National Council, that there would have been much more casualties if it had not been for NATO," the report says.NATO defended reports on civilian casualties due to NATO actions solely as propaganda put out by the Gaddafi regime, the report adds. Eyewitness testimony, however, as well as media reports, contradicts these statements."Various evidence provided by eyewitnesses and media (and in some cases even pro-NATO media publications) indicates that a considerable part of this information is true," the report says.The report also states that members of the previous Libyan government and its supporters were killed without due process of a court hearing; all the opposition required was the tacit consent of NATO.Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was captured alive on October 20, 2011 in his hometown of Sirte by members of the Libyan National Liberation Army after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes. Despite being taken alive, Gaddafi was beaten and killed by his captors.

US democracy – not so perfect

The report went on to criticize the United States for what it sees as a faulty democratic system of elections, which increasingly lacks representation from third party candidates."Human rights activists are concerned by the fact that independent candidates are barred from elections and electoral offices,” the report said, while going on to mention the “practice of  appointing senators by governors in case of offices becoming vacant early,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its first annual report on human rights.The report mentioned the case of Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois, who was found guilty of trying to sell the vacated senatorial seat of Barack Obama."Curious in this context is the case of former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, who in fact attempted to sell the seat of a senator from that state, which became vacant after Barack Obama was elected president of the US," the report says.The ministry document also aired concerns about the condition of freedom of speech in the United States."The US Congress has been unable…to pass legislation entitling journalists to keep their sources secret (except for certain situations when a court acknowledges disclosure of information necessary).”The Russian report on human rights also mentioned the increasing frequency of US journalists losing their jobs due to uttering what is determined to be “politically incorrect” remarks, which the authors of the report suggest is just another form of media censorship.Recently, two American journalists – 44-year-old senior CNN Middle East editor Octavia Nasr and 89-year-old White House correspondent Helen Thomas – lost their jobs due to “slips of the tongue,” which seems to be a one-way ticket to an early retirement in the world of US journalism these days.Thomas, who had been part of the White House Press Corps since the Eisenhower administration, was forced to retire for telling a rabbi in May 2010 that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine."Octavia, who had worked at CNN for 20 years, was fired immediately after she posted a Twitter message expressing admiration for Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Faldlallah, who passed away last July.Robert Bridge, RT