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Human Rights Watch assails US in annual rights report

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has released its 2005 human rights report [full text] surveying human rights developments in more than 60 countries in 2004. The report says that worldwide system for protecting human rights was significantly weakened in 2004 by the crisis in Darfur [BBC Q&A] and the Abu Ghraib [JURIST Hot Topic] scandal:

No one would equate the two, yet each, in its own way, has had an insidious effect. One involves indifference in the face of the worst imaginable atrocities, the other is emblematic of a powerful government flouting a most basic prohibition. One presents a crisis that threatens many lives, the other a case of exceptionalism that threatens the most fundamental rules. The vitality of the global defense of human rights depends on a firm response to each on stopping the Sudanese government's slaughter in Darfur and on changing the policy decisions behind the US government's torture and mistreatment of detainees.
HRW urged the Bush Administration to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate any US officials who participated in, ordered or had command responsibility for torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The group said the appointment of Alberto Gonzales [Wikipedia profile] adds to the urgency of an independent probe of the abuses as Gonzales, in his role as White House counsel, has issued a legal opinion to Bush saying terrorists captured overseas by Americans do not merit the protections under the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War [official text]. AP has more.

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