Amnesty International has expressed concern at what it says are increasing human rights abuses throughout the South Asia region.
Security forces in Nepal came in for particular criticism
The organisation's report on 2003 lists cases of arbitrary arrests, torture and political repression in a number of countries in the region.
Nepal and US-run jails in Afghanistan draw particular concern, although there is some optimism at the improving rights situation in Sri Lanka.
The watchdog's 339-page report on human rights in 157 nations and territories most heavily criticises the United States, Russia and China, but contains comments on most South Asian nations, including:
- An escalation of arbitrary arrests, disappearances, extra-judicial executions and torture by security forces following the breakdown of peace talks with Maoist rebels in August
- Maoists continued to abduct and recruit children, while security forces tortured and ill-treated detainees
- Calls from the UN and the National Human Rights Commission for an effective human rights monitoring mechanism remain unheeded
- Arbitrary arrests by US-led forces, with men and boys often held without charge
- Grave concern over detention conditions at the US air base at Bagram, near Kabul, where about 100 people are thought to be held outside any legal framework
- The criminal justice system remains ineffective and violations of fair trial procedures are routine
- A sharp increase in sectarian violence in the second half of 2003, particularly in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.
- Hundreds of people arbitrarily detained in the context of the US "war on terror"
- Human rights abuses against women, children and religious minorities continue to be ignored by the government
- Increasing concern at the erosion of human rights in the context of "anti terrorism" measures against armed political groups
- Systemic discrimination against vulnerable groups including women, religious minorities, low caste and tribal people
- Increasing concern about the failure of the state government in Gujarat to bring those responsible for communal violence to justice
- Torture remains widespread
- Police used unnecessary or disproportionate force against demonstrators, injuring hundreds
- Harassment of human rights activists
- A durable solution to the plight of 100,000 refugees from Bhutan living in camps in the east of Nepal for more than 10 years remains as remote as ever
- Repression of peaceful political opposition continues
- Reports of torture and ill treatment of prisoners
- Fundamental flaws in the criminal justice system were partially addressed
- The ceasefire and peace talks between the government and Tamil Tigers continued to contribute to an improved human rights situation, even though the Tigers suspended negotiations in April
- Measures to hold the security forces to account for past human rights violations failed to show significant progress
- Torture and rape in police custody continued to be widely reported
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