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On Rights, Amnesty Goes Light on Ban But Details Violations Across Globe

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 -- Amnesty International Wednesday under embargo released its annual report, and just as embargo expired its Scott Edwards went on television calling for UN Security Council reform.

  While we agree, such reform is not happening any time soon -- even a resolution to merely recommend changes to the Council's working methods was withdrawn this month, after UN Security Council Ban Ki-moon's lawyer Patricia O'Brien sunk it with an opinion that it would require the affirmative vote of two thirds of UN members.

Surprisingly, Ban Ki-moon himself is hardly mentioned in the report, despite being responsible for the UN shirking its responsibilities for introducing cholera to Haiti, and accepting an alleged Sri Lankan war criminal Shavendra Silva as his adviser on peacekeeping, saying it is up to member states.

But there is much to be noted in Amnesty's annual report, which we will for now review as it appears, alphabetically.

Of Cote d'Ivoire, where the UN Security Council just visited under French leadership without apparently mentioning the massacre as Duekoue -- a flaw in Amnesty's reports on France, the US, UK and other colonial powers is failure to analyze foreign policy -- Amnesty writes:

"After the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo, dozens of his real or presumed supporters were arrested and detained arbitrarily. A number of military and police personnel were held in a Korhogo military camp, in reportedly life threatening conditions... After taking control of Duékoué, the FRCI, supported by Dozos and armed elements in plain clothes, led a manhunt in the Quartier Carrefour area, where the population was mainly Guérés. They entered the compounds, demanded money and looted houses. Women and girls were made to leave and hundreds of men and boys were summarily executed."

And what has been done? Inner City Press recently asked outgoing International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, but the answer appears to some to be: nothing.

Meanwhile of Cote d'Ivoire former and some say current colonial master France, Amnesty reports:

"On 1 September, between 150 and 200 Roma were forcibly evicted from makeshift homes, which were then demolished, in a camp in St Denis (Paris). Anti-riot police forced the Roma to board a tram with no indication of its destination."

Of fellow Security Council member (for now) Germany, Amnesty reports:

"In July, there were media reports that the German government had approved in principle the delivery of about 200 Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia."

Without identifying Ban Ki-moon by name, of Haiti Amnesty reports:

"The serious cholera epidemic that began in October 2010 continued. There were renewed outbreaks in late 2011. More than 523,904 cases and 7,018 deaths had been reported by the end of 2011. The introduction of the South Asian cholera strain was widely attributed to Nepalese UN peacekeepers based in the upper Artibonite River region, the origin of the epidemic. In May, an independent panel of international experts mandated by the UN Secretary General to determine the source of the outbreak concluded that the large-scale epidemic was caused by a combination of factors."

And that is called a whitewash, of the kind Amnesty criticizes in government. Why not in Ban's UN? Or Ban's native South Korea, AI says that "the authorities increasingly used the National Security Law (NSL) to target individuals and organizations." Ban's Secretariat has of late been demanding censorship, and deterring coverage of his war criminal adviser Shavendra Silva.

Amnesty makes a joint Morocco / Western Saraha report (while reporting on Puerto Rico separate from the US), saying

"On 14 April, Sahrawi activists Ahmed Alnasiri, Brahim Dahane and Ali Salem Tamek were released on bail. They had been held since 8 October 2009 and still faced charges, together with four other Sahrawi activists, of threatening Morocco’s 'internal security' through their peaceful activities and advocacy of self determination for Western Sahara. Some 23 Sahrawis continued to be detained at Salé Prison, awaiting an unfair trial before a military court for their alleged involvement in violence in late 2010 at the Gdim Izik protest camp near Laayoune. In late October, the detainees went on hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and continued detention without trial. They had not been brought to trial by the end of the year. No impartial and independent investigation was undertaken into the events at Gdim Izik and in Laayoune in November 2010 when Moroccan security forces demolished a Sahrawi protest camp, sparking violence in which 13 people, including 11 members of the security forces, were killed."

One wonders what Amnesty thinks of Morocco's recent moves to block a new UN envoy to Western Sahara, and to have envoy Christopher Ross removed.

As noted, Amnesty reports separately on Puerto Rico, that

"In May, Amnesty International Puerto Rico discovered that access to its website had been blocked to students using the Department of Education’s computers. Although the block was subsequently lifted following protests by Amnesty International, the search term 'advocacy' remained blocked by the Department at the end of the year."

Of the country of the current General Assembly President, Qatar, Amnesty writes:

At least two men were arrested apparently because they were suspected of criticizing the government, and two people were jailed for blasphemy. At least 46 people, most of them foreign nationals, were convicted on charges of 'illicit sexual relations' and either deported or imprisoned followed in some cases by deportation. Salem al-Khawari, a civil servant, was arrested on 7 February and held without charge until 18 October. He was denied access to his family for three months, during which he was allegedly made to remain standing for up to 15 hours a day, prevented from sleeping and beaten. The authorities gave no reason for his detention and no investigation into his alleged torture was known to have been held. Sultan al-Khalaifi, a blogger and founder of a local human rights organization, was arrested on 2 March by state security officials in plain clothes who also searched his home. He was detained incommunicado for a week and was released without charge on 1 April. In February, a 41-year-old Qatari man was reported to have been sentenced to a five-year prison term after a court in Doha convicted him of blasphemy."

Some wonder: will we see THIS on Al Jazeera? Of Sri Lanka, protected by Ban Ki-moon, Amnesty reports

"The government failed to adequately investigate or prosecute most alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including those committed in the final phase of the armed conflict, and rejected the findings of the UN['s] Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka. The Panel concluded that there were credible allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by both sides. It found that the LLRC, touted by officials as a sufficient accountability mechanism to address wartime events, was 'deeply flawed; and was not adequately independent or impartial... Sri Lankan officials, including the country’s President and senior diplomats, faced complaints in Swiss, German and US courts that they were responsible for murder, torture and military attacks on civilians."

  Amnesty's report did not, however, mention that Sri Lankan alleged war criminal Shavendra Silva is now an ADVISER to Ban Ki-moon on peacekeeping. On the UK, Amnesty among other things says

"In July, the Court of Appeal gave permission to appeal in the case of X.X., an Ethiopian national alleged to pose a threat to national security. X.X. had challenged the government’s decision to deport him on the grounds that he would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and subjected to a flagrantly unfair trial if returned. One of the grounds granted for appeal was that information relied upon in X.X.’s case had allegedly arisen from the unlawful prolonged incommunicado detention of individuals in unofficial detention centers in Ethiopia. X.X.’s lawyers argued that material obtained in these circumstances should not be admissible."

  Of the US, Amnesty among other things writes:

"Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali national, was detained by US forces in the Gulf of Aden in April and brought to the USA in early July and charged with terrorism-related offences. Ahmed Warsame was apparently held incommunicado for at least six weeks and in secret detention for at least two weeks prior to his transfer to the USA. The authorities responded to Amnesty International’s concern about his pre transfer treatment by saying that “the US Government has consistently asserted that it is at war with al Qaida and its associated forces, and that it may take all lawful measures, including detention, to defeat the enemy."

  Of Yemen, Amnesty reports:

"On 21 October, the UN Security Council condemned the continuing violence in Yemen and urged President Saleh to hand over power in accordance with the GCC agreement... President Saleh and his aides were to be given immunity for crimes committed during his rule."

  And with that we end, hoping for a better next year. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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