NGOs criticize American and Russian abuses

IN AN open letter to Presidents Bush and Putin, the Slovak offices of Amnesty International (AI) and Friends of the Earth expressed their concern over a lack of respect for international standards in human rights, the media and the environment in the international policies of the United States and Russia, the SITA news agency reported.

The organizations are concerned that "narrow, one-sided interests, rather than commitments to international rights" shape US and Russian policies.

The two NGOs remind President Bush that his administration led the war against Iraq, which was not authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations. AI has documented cases of the illegal detention of civilians, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners.

The letter points out that the USA has held more than 500 people from about 40 countries at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba for more than three years.

This is despite the detentions clearly contradicting the Geneva Convention. The letter also highlights Washington's rejection of the Kyoto Protocols and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The NGOs reproach President Putin for serious abuses of international humanitarian law in the war in Chechnya, including attacks on civilians.

The NGOs warn of severe restrictions on media freedom in Russia. They note that political opposition in Russia has been marginalized.

They also point out that there has been virtually no progress in solving numerous accounts of torture at police stations and bullying in the army.

Amnesty and Friends of the Earth urge Presidents Bush and Putin "to stop undermining these laws and start advocating them and support the international initiatives that will make them stronger".

Compiled by Zuzana Habšudová from press reports


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