On May 12, Amnesty International (AI) released its annual report on the state of human rights in the world. The report examines the human rights records of 159 countries around in the world during 2010.
The United States of America got some bad marks again this year, primarily related to human rights violations in the "war on terror" and our continued use of the death penalty.
"US President Obama's promise that the Guantanamo detention centre would be closed by January 2010 was not fulfilled," AI notes in the report. "By the end of the year, 174 people remained held in the prison. The only Guantanamo detainee so far transferred to the US mainland for prosecution in a federal court was tried and convicted. Two Guantanamo detainees were convicted by military commission during the year after pleading guilty. Revised rules, issued in April, governing military commission proceedings for so-called 'war on terror' suspects showed that there was little hope that the US administration would make substantial reforms and uphold human rights."
Also in the "war on terror", AI's report criticizes the Obama administration for its failure to prosecute the instigators of torture and other human rights violations by the Bush administration: "[I]n the USA, those responsible for crimes under international law committed as part of the 'war on terror', such as torture and enforced disappearance, were not held to account. In November, former President George W. Bush admitted that he had authorized the use of 'water-boarding' (a form of torture in which the process of drowning a detainee is begun) during his administration. Nevertheless, accountability and remedy for human rights violations committed as part of the USA's programme of secret detention and rendition remained non-existent. In November, the US Department of Justice announced, without further explanation, that no one would face criminal charges in relation to the destruction in 2005 of 92 tapes depicting evidence of 'water-boarding' and other torture techniques used against two detainees held in 2002."
Regarding the death penalty, AI's report notes that " prisoners - 45 men and one woman - were put to death in the USA during the year. This brought to 1,234 the total number of executions carried out since the US Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 1976." AI describes the death penalty as "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights, and calls for worldwide abolition of the death penalty "to end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias and tainted by human error."
In this year's report, AI has again exposed the US not as a nation of laws and justice, but as a nation of impunity and injustice.
I am ashamed for my country, as every citizen of conscience should be.
You can obtain a copy of the report, or browse the report by region or by country, at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/annual-report/2011