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Last Updated: May 19, 2007 - 1:28:39 PM
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US turns blind eye to Pakistan's rights record: Amnesty
Mar 7, 2007 - 10:09:37 AM
Domestic violence and abuse against women, such as honour crimes and discriminatory legislation that affected women and religious minorities, remained serious problems.

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[RxPG] Washington, March 7 - The United States has castigated Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against terrorism, for multiple human rights failures, but Amnesty International accused it of turning a blind eye to many abuses there.

Pakistan's 'poor' record included restrictions on citizens' right to change their government, extra-judicial killings, torture, rape and an increase in disappearances of activists and political opponents.

However, Amnesty International accused the Bush administration of continuing to turn a blind eye to many instances of abuse by countries cited by the State Department for appalling human rights records in the name of national security.

Its own analysis reveals that US, in the context of the war on terror, has been silent on human rights abuses committed by many of its new-found friends, said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director.

In the Balochistan province of Pakistan, for example, Amnesty International has documented torture, possible extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings and disappearances. In January, Amnesty International issued an urgent action on behalf of Baloch political leader Akhtar Mengal, currently being held incommunicado in solitary confinement in Karachi without access to needed medical care.

'We welcome the State Department's contribution to the effort to protect individual human rights defenders around the world,' said Cox. 'But the administration as a whole must ensure that its deeds match its words. Courageous human rights defenders deserve no less.'

State Department's report noted that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who assumed power after overthrowing the civilian government in 1999, had affirmed his right to serve concurrently as chief of army staff through a series of controversial constitutional amendments. Domestic and international observers had found the 2002 National Assembly elections deeply flawed.

The government was affected by internal conflicts in Balochistan and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas -. While the civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were instances when local police acted independently of government authority, it said.

Poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pre-trial detention remained problems, as did a lack of judicial independence. Harassment, intimidation, and arrests of journalists increased during the year.

The government limited freedoms of association, religion and movement, and imprisoned political leaders. Corruption was widespread in the government and police forces, and the government made little attempt to combat the problem, the report said.

Domestic violence and abuse against women, such as honour crimes and discriminatory legislation that affected women and religious minorities, remained serious problems.

Widespread trafficking in persons and exploitation of indentured, bonded and child labour were ongoing problems. Child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and worker rights remained concerns, the report said.

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