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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 22:30 GMT
US condemns global rights abuses
A man is interrogated in a filtration camp in the Chechen village of Chernokozovo, northwest of Groznyy. Allegations of torture at the camp were denied.
Russian forces tortured Chechen rebels, the report says
The US has accused China, Russia and Saudi Arabia of violating the rights of their citizens.

An annual State Department report on human rights also criticises Israel, various Arab military groups and Central and South Asian countries which have been America's allies in the war against terrorism.

Chinese police remove an elderly couple protesting outside the NPC
China continues to crack down on protests
The three countries labelled an "axis of evil" by President George W Bush - Iraq, Iran and North Korea - come under attack in the report which was submitted to the US Congress on Monday.

Zimbabwe, too, was named for its conduct in the run-up to the presidential elections this weekend.

Systematic abuses include summary executions, disappearances, widespread use of torture and other degrading treatment

US verdict on Iran
Just days after President Bush returned from Beijing, China is accused of using the US-led campaign against terrorism as a pretext for cracking down on Muslims in Xinjiang Province.

The country is also cited for suppressing religious freedom - an issue raised by Mr Bush while he was in China.

Saudi Arabia is charged with torturing prisoners while Russia is accused of abusing rebels in Chechnya and of murdering those supporting Chechen independence.

John Dehwa, a member of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party, lies in hospital after he was allegedly beaten by militant Mugabe supporters
Zimbabwe falls foul of the report

Zimbabwe's security forces had carried out at least four extrajudicial killings and participated in or given logistical help to perpetrators of political violence, the report said.

In addition, a government-sanctioned, systematic campaign of violence targeting the opposition that began before the 2000 parliamentary elections intensified last year ahead of this weekend's presidential poll.

The report notes failures in Israel's human rights record but recognises that country's struggle with terrorism.

It said the rights of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank were generally respected though the Israeli Government occasionally went too far in its fight against terrorism.

The other side of the Middle East conflict is also condemned, with Islamic militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah named as enemies of human rights for their attacks on Israel.

The report is compiled from evidence collated from US embassies and missions around the world.

Security forces routinely tortured, beat, raped and otherwise abused detainees

US verdict on Iraq

As well as the continuing concerns for events in China and Russia, it criticised two key allies in President Bush's campaign against terror.

In Pakistan, police committed numerous extrajudicial killings and also abused and raped citizens, the report said.

"While the officers responsible for such abuses sometimes were transferred or suspended for their actions, no officer has been convicted and very few have been arrested," it said.

In Uzbekistan, security forces tortured, beat, and harassed people.

"Prison conditions were poor, and pre-trial detention can be prolonged," the report said.

"The security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, on false charges, particularly Muslims suspected of extremist sympathies, frequently planting narcotics, weapons or banned literature on them."

Also criticised were the defeated Taleban authorities in Afghanistan, and the Northern Alliance, the main force which opposed them.

The Taleban had committed serious and systematic abuses, but their opponents were guilty of political killings, abductions, rape and looting, the State Department report said.

The Colombian and Cuban security forces were also accused of rights abuses.

Peru and Turkey, too, came in for criticism, although the first had made significant strides to improve its human rights record, and the second generally respected the rights of its citizens, the report said.

'Rigid controls'

As expected, the "axis of evil" countries came in for particular condemnation in the report.

In Iran: "The government significantly restricts citizens' rights to change their government.

"Systematic abuses include summary executions, disappearances, widespread use of torture and other degrading treatment."

In Iraq: "The government continued to be responsible for disappearances and to kill and torture persons suspected of - or related to persons suspected of - economic crimes, military desertion and a variety of other activities.

"Security forces routinely tortured, beat, raped and otherwise abused detainees."

In North Korea: "Citizens are detained arbitrarily, and many are held as political prisoners; prison conditions are harsh.

"The constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary and fair trials are not implemented in practice.

"The regime subjects its citizens to rigid controls."

See also:

21 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bush puts stress on human rights
29 Jan 02 | Middle East
Iraq invites human rights inspection
17 Jan 02 | Americas
War on terror cloaks rights abuses
02 Jan 02 | Europe
Russian human rights condemned
30 Nov 01 | Middle East
Palestinians accused of rights abuses
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