Skip to comments.Amnesty is not out to get Israel [U.S. is bigger target]
Posted on 06/20/2005 9:01:45 AM PDT by Alouette
Amnesty International investigates, documents and takes action on human rights violations around the globe using one standard that of international human rights and humanitarian law and strives to do so in an impartial way.
Nevertheless, the annual Amnesty International Report 2005 covering human rights violations around the globe in 2004 generated criticism in this newspaper from David Forman ("We are not paranoid," May 30) and Michael Ehrlich ("Amnesty International do your homework," June 2).
Forman accuses Amnesty International (AI) of being "out to get" Israel while ignoring serious human rights violations elsewhere in the world. Most of his misgivings could be answered by reading our annual report or browsing through AI's web site (www.amnesty.org).
Forman asks: "What of America's carpet bombing of Fallujah, where half the city was destroyed and untold civilian life lost? Is this not a 'war crime?' What about the brutality that has infested too much of the African continent? Or, more to the point what of the intentional Palestinian murders of innocent Israelis? Are these not "crimes against humanity?" He is apparently unaware that AI has indeed documented and condemned such atrocities in its 2005 report and in numerous other reports.
For example, AI has documented and called for investigations into evidence of war crimes by US forces, including unlawful killings in Iraq, deaths in custody in Afghanistan, torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners and denial of justice for hundreds of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
We have also repeatedly pointed out that such violations are all the more significant because deliberate undermining of International Human Rights and humanitarian law by the US encourages human rights abuses in other countries. In fact, last week President Bush and other US officials used similar language to that used by Forman to criticize AI, but for the opposite reasons they were objecting to AI's condemnation of the crimes committed by US forces.
Likewise, AI's annual report documents war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. We campaigned for the UN Security Council to refer crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Sudan to the International Criminal Court.
As for suicide bombings and other deliberate killings of Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed groups, we have consistently condemned them as crimes against humanity. Such condemnation is included in the 2005 report, as well as other reports.
FORMAN APPEARS to assume that by labeling human rights violations "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes" AI is comparing Israel's actions today to acts done by the Nazis during World War II. This assumption is wrong. There are largely accepted definitions of what conduct constitutes such crimes largely derived indeed from the experience of the Holocaust and that is the one standard that we are applying. Using one standard is what Forman calls for at the beginning of his article.
Forman's criticism that "the authors of the Amnesty report [do not] have the slightest sensitivity to our perspective" is surprising coming from a human rights activist, since this is among the most frequently used excuse by perpetrators of human rights violations to justify their conduct. Perpetrators claim that their situation is "exceptional," and that in such circumstances crimes such as unlawful killings, torture, "disappearances" and others can be overlooked in order to defend national security or protect democracy.
AI believes that human rights violations are never acceptable under any circumstances.
Both international human rights law and the laws of war already contain a balance of the different rights, including the right to security of the person from any violent attack and the right to a fair process for anyone suspected of abuses.
Ehrlich, for his part, criticizes the AI report although, by his own admission, he "did not check specific events recorded in the report." He points out that "killing an innocent person is always a tragedy, but it is not necessarily the result of an unlawful action" by Israeli soldiers, implying that AI does not recognize that. AI has never claimed that all killings by Israeli soldiers were unlawful. Israel has the right to use force, including lethal force, to defend its citizens, as long as it is necessary and proportionate.
There is plenty of evidence that far too many killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces were unlawful. AI and Israeli human rights organizations have raised numerous cases over the years with the Israeli authorities, who have hardly ever provided evidence to disprove the allegations or shown that proper investigations were taking place and that perpetrators were brought to justice and held accountable.
AI'S STATEMENT that trials [of Palestinians] before Israeli military courts "often did not meet international standards of fairness," is challenged by Ehrlich, contending that AI has not sufficiently studied the military justice system.
Fair trial violations have indeed been a long-standing concern of AI and others and evidence continues to show that military courts do not adequately ensure the rights of the accused.
Ehrlich also regrets that "AI ignores all human rights issues in Israel which are unrelated to the Israeli-Arab conflict," mentioning specifically the plight of women victims of domestic violence.
AI has actually researched various patterns of violations of women's rights in Israel unrelated to the conflict, including violence in the family, rape and trafficking. We have prepared a briefing on these issues for the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, which will examine the Israeli government's report on the implementation of the Women's Convention (CEDAW) next month.
In this regard, it is important to recognize that in recent years the Israeli authorities have taken positive steps to improve the protection of women's rights, including at the legislative and enforcement level.
Finally, while AI cannot cover all issues in all countries, it does seek to address the most pressing human rights concerns in as large a number of countries as possible. AI also regularly makes known the level of access it has to countries and the kind of response it receives from the authorities, as well as from armed groups and others it addresses.
The AI annual report is an overall record of efforts made throughout the year to protect people's lives and dignity. Hopefully, the lively debate that its publication triggered in Israel and elsewhere will provide momentum for positive change in the reality of people's lives.
Einat Hurvitz is chairperson of Amnesty International Israel Section; Claudio Cordone is senior director of Regional Programs at Amnesty International International Secretariat.
WARNING: This is a high volume ping list
Who makes up AI? I did a search and would like to know if AI has a Board of Directors and who sits on it, but can't find it.
The UN has the image of a world organization based on universal principles of justice and equality. In reality, when the chips are down, it is nothing other than the executive committee of the Third World dictatorships.
former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Ambassador Kirkpatrick is right on the money about the UN, that is exactly what it is, the executive committee of Third World dictatorships. If only she and the Reagan administration hadn't voted against Israel in 1981 when Saddam's reactor was taken out.
This Wikpedia entry might be a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesty_International
Not out to get Israel? My eye!
Go to http://www.msf.org
Then use their search engine to look up a little ditty called 'The Palestinian Chronicles". Flip through that and then come back and tell me they don't have it in for Israel. It's evil. It is.
Neglected to mention that Amnesty and MSF are like hands in a glove in Canada. I'm fairly sure they collaborate in other countries in a similar fashion as they have mutual goals per my last post.
Who exactly is this puke?
America did not "carpet bomb" Fallujah, and that statement is an insult to the US.
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