A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE
imposed after the brutal 1989 crackdown in institutions and individual states. That is one of the
Tiananmen Square in order to show the commitment reasons why governments contested Myanmar
of the EU to promoting human rights in China. It becoming the chair of the Association of Southeast
should not be removed until the Chinese government Asian Nations (ASEAN). That is why the EU decided in
has made significant human rights concessions. the end not to reverse the ban on arms sales to China.
The African Union (AU) has developed a progressive That is why India has put human rights considerations
framework on human rights, and played an important as a key element in its approach to Nepal.
role in resolving the crisis in Togo, but it is sadly Both on principled as well as pragmatic grounds,
lacking the capacity and political will to deliver on its human rights should be seen as a critical element of
promises consistently. Hampered by logistical sustainable global and regional security strategies,
constraints and the refusal of the Sudanese not as an optional extra for good times. There is no
government and armed militias to abide by doubt in my mind that the events of 2005 show that
international law, AU human rights monitors could the political and moral authority of governments will
not make a real difference on the ground in Darfur. It be judged more and more by their stand on human
showed no stomach to tackle the appalling human rights at home and abroad. Therein lies one of the
rights situation in Zimbabwe. It failed to convince most important achievements of the human rights
Nigeria or Senegal to co-operate with the efforts to movement in recent times.
bring to justice the former Liberian and Chadian There are clear challenges ahead. Vicious attacks by
presidents Charles Taylor and Hissène Habré. African armed groups, the increased instability in the Middle
leaders do a disservice to themselves and the African East, the mounting anger and isolation of Muslim
people when they use African solidarity to shield each communities around the world, the forgotten
other from justice and accountability. conflicts in Africa and elsewhere, growing inequalities
In the face of institutional lethargy and governments’ and glaring poverty – all are evidence of a dangerous
failures, public opinion, whether in Africa, Europe or and divided world in which human rights are being
elsewhere, is demanding a stronger commitment by daily threatened. But far from being discouraged, I
governments to human rights at home and abroad. believe these challenges make the impetus for action
Thanks to human rights advocates and others, and the even greater.
growing pressure of public opinion, the international As we set our agenda for 2006, AI and its millions of
community is being forced to acknowledge human members and supporters take encouragement from
rights as the framework within which security and the remarkable achievements of the human rights
development should be imagined and implemented. movement and the faith of ordinary people in the
Without respect for human rights, neither security nor power of human rights. We in AI do not underestimate
development can be sustained. that power. We will use it to fight those who peddle
In both international and regional contexts, human fear and hate, to challenge the myopic vision of the
rights are increasingly being acknowledged as a world’s most powerful leaders, and to hold
benchmark for the credibility and authority of governments to account.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S COMMITMENTS
In 2006, Amnesty International is committed to:
■ Resist attacks on human rights standards, in ■ Champion the right of women and girls to be free
particular the absolute prohibition on torture from violence and discrimination.
and ill-treatment. ■ Promote the protection of refugees, displaced people
■ Demand the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention and migrants.
camp and secret detention centres, and the disclosure ■ Expose the link between poverty and human
of “extraordinary renditions” and “ghost detainees”. rights abuses and hold governments accountable
■ Condemn strongly deliberate attacks on civilians by for poverty eradication through respect for all
armed groups. human rights.
■ Fight to end impunity and to strengthen national ■ Campaign to hold corporate and economic actors
and international justice systems. accountable for human rights abuses.
■ Expose human rights abuses committed during ■ Strive for universal ratification of the seven core
armed conflicts, and campaign for an international human rights treaties fundamental for human
arms trade treaty to control the sale of small arms. security and dignity.
■ Seek a universal moratorium on the death penalty as ■ Support human rights defenders and activists in their
a step towards its abolition. fight for equality and justice.
6 Amnesty International Report 2006
decisions in defence of basic human rights principles. Germany, Italy and Sweden into the role of
Even within the US government itself, tensions government officials in specific rendition cases; in
emerged over the curtailment of fundamental liberties. Spain, an investigation was opened by the Spanish
Information continued to emerge in 2005 that helped authorities into the use of Spanish airports and
to expose some of the secret and abusive practices airspace by aircraft operated by the US Central
developed by states in the name of fighting terrorism. Intelligence Agency (CIA). In Iceland, Ireland and the
For example, further information came to light about Netherlands, government officials or activists called
the illegal transfer of terrorism suspects from one for official inquiries.
country to another without any judicial process – a Investigations by journalists, AI and others in 2005
practice known in the USA as “extraordinary left little doubt that the US government was running a
renditions”. It was revealed that the USA had, through system of covert prisons, known as “black sites”. There
this practice, transferred many detainees to countries were persistent reports that the CIA had operated such
known to use torture and other ill-treatment in secret detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan,
interrogations, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and other unknown
Saudi Arabia and Syria. Such transfers effectively locations in Europe and elsewhere, including on the
outsourced torture. British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. About
What renditions mean in reality was highlighted in three dozen detainees deemed to have high
2005 by the case of Muhammad al-Assad, a Yemeni intelligence value had “disappeared” in US custody, and
living in Tanzania, who was arrested at his home in Dar- were allegedly being held in black sites, completely
es-Salaam on 26 December 2003. He was hooded, outside the protection of the law.
handcuffed and flown to an unknown destination. It In November the Council of Europe launched an
was the beginning of a 16-month ordeal of investigation into reports that the network of US secret
unacknowledged detention and interrogation, in which prisons and involvement in renditions included sites in
he had no contact with the outside world and no idea Europe. AI strongly endorsed calls to European
where he was. governments to investigate such allegations by officials
He was held for a year in a secret facility where he of the Council of Europe, one of whom declared: “not
was subjected to extreme sensory deprivation. His knowing is not good enough regardless of whether
masked guards never spoke a word to him, but ignorance is intentional or accidental”.
communicated their instructions in sign language. At a conference jointly organized by AI and the UK-
There was a constant low-level hum of white noise. based NGO Reprieve in London in November, former
Artificial light was kept on 24 hours a day. Muhammad detainees and families of detainees held in
al-Assad’s father was told by Tanzanian officials that Guantánamo or in UK facilities testified to the human
his son had been turned over to US custody, and that no cost of indefinite detention without charge or trial.
one knew where he was. His family heard nothing of Speaking of the trauma of the families of those
him until he was flown to Yemen in May 2005, where he detained, Nadja Dizdarevic, the wife of Boudelaa Hadz
was imprisoned, apparently at the request of the US of Bosnia and Herzegovina who has been held at
authorities. Muhammad al-Assad was still in custody in Guantánamo for four years, said:
Yemen without charge or trial at the end of 2005. “It is difficult to be a mother to my children
Other testimonies from former detainees collected because I have not enough time for them and I am
during 2005 by AI were shockingly similar to the everything that they have… At night after I put my
experience described by Muhammad al-Assad. Two children to sleep I start my work and while the
other Yemeni men were transferred to Yemen by the whole world sleeps in peace I tirelessly write
USA in May 2005, where they remained in custody complaints, requests, letters, learn the laws and
without charge or trial at the end of the year. In human rights conventions so that I could continue
separate interviews with AI in June, September and my struggle for the life and release of my husband
October 2005, all three described being held in and the others.”
isolation for 16 to 18 months in secret detention centres Governments have over the years requested
run by US officials. The interviews conducted by AI “diplomatic assurances” from countries known to use
provided strong new evidence of the US network of torture in order to allow them to deport people there.
secret detention centres around the world. In 2005 the UK government sought to rely on
In December 2005, after the UK Foreign Secretary diplomatic assurances and concluded Memorandums
said that he was not aware of any renditions flights of Understanding with Jordan, Lebanon and Libya, and
refuelling or using other facilities in the UK since was seeking similar agreements with Algeria, Egypt and
early 2001, AI published details of three flights that other states in the region. AI opposed the use of such
refuelled in the UK, hours after transferring detainees “diplomatic assurances” as they erode the absolute
to countries where they risked “disappearance”, prohibition of torture, and are inherently unreliable
torture or other ill-treatment. Information and unenforceable.
increasingly came to light in 2005, partly because Evidence that many governments had been engaging
evidence was uncovered by victims themselves and in, conniving in or acquiescing to the outsourcing of
partly due to governmental inquiries, that other torture underlined the need for greater transnational
European countries may have been similarly involved accountability in a world where human rights
in secret transfers. Inquiries were conducted in responsibilities do not stop at the borders of a state.
Amnesty International Report 2006 9
The outsourcing of torture meant that the USA and after unfair trials and sentenced to long prison terms
some of its European allies, which had for decades for allegedly participating in the protest.
unreservedly condemned torture at all times and in all In China, the authorities continued to use the global
circumstances, openly defied the absolute ban against “war on terror” to justify harsh repression in the
torture. The implication was that they believed that Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), resulting
some torture and ill-treatment was justifiable in the in serious human rights violations against the ethnic
“war on terror”. Uighur community. While China’s latest “strike-hard”
The US administration continued its attempts to campaign against crime had subsided in most parts of
redefine and justify certain forms of torture or other the country, it was officially renewed in the XUAR in
ill-treatment in the name of “national security” and May 2005 to eradicate “terrorism, separatism and
public order. When questioned about the US position religious extremism”. It resulted in the closure of
on the treatment of prisoners, the US Attorney unofficial mosques and arrests of imams. Uighur
General, Alberto Gonzales, made it clear that his nationalists, including peaceful activists, continued to
government would define torture in its own way. be detained or imprisoned. Those charged with serious
Although the US leadership denied that the “separatist” or “terrorist” offences were at risk of
government condoned torture, evidence emerged that lengthy imprisonment or execution. Those attempting
the CIA used “water boarding” (simulated drowning), to pass information abroad about the extent of the
prolonged shackling or induced hypothermia on crackdown faced arbitrary detention and
prisoners held in secret prisons. Some people within imprisonment. The authorities continued to accuse
the US administration apparently continued to believe Uighur activists of terrorism without providing credible
that certain forms of torture and ill-treatment evidence for such charges.
practices were acceptable if used to gather intelligence In both Malaysia and Singapore, where national
to counter terrorism. However, growing challenges to security legislation allows prolonged detention
these policies both within the USA – where at the end of without charge of terrorism suspects, dozens of
the year the US Senate passed legislation affirming the individuals remained in detention under Internal
ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading Security Acts without charge or trial.
treatment – and among the USA’s allies in the “war on In Kenya and certain other African countries, the
terror” offered hope of a more principled approach to rhetoric of counter-terrorism was employed to justify
human rights and security in the future. repressive legislation which was used to silence human
Human rights abuses in the context of counter- rights defenders and obstruct their work.
terrorism policies were not confined to the USA and its The exposure during 2005 of the unlawful practices
European allies. In Uzbekistan, the authorities claimed of governments in the name of countering terrorism
that people taking part in a demonstration in Andizhan mobilized and affirmed the growing demands for
at which peaceful demonstrators were killed had been accountability. The determined work of human rights
coerced to do so by quot;terroristsquot;. Subsequently, more activists, lawyers, journalists and many others helped
than 70 people were convicted of quot;terroristquot; offences to lift the blanket of secrecy to expose states that
AI INTERVENES IN COURT CASES be at risk of torture or ill-treatment is and should remain
AI continued to seek the legal implementation of absolute. Four states intervened to argue that this
international human rights standards by intervening in prohibition is not absolute, but may be subject to a
cases before national and international courts. “balancing” test against such interests as countering
Preventing the erosion of the absolute prohibition terrorism. At the end of 2005, the decision of the Court
against torture in the context of the “war on terror” was was still pending.
the objective of two interventions in 2005. As part of its work against the death penalty, AI
In a case before the UK’s highest court, the Appellate intervened in a case concerning Guatemala before the
Committee of the House of Lords, AI coordinated a Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
coalition of 14 organizations in a joint intervention to Guatemala, which ratified the American Convention
challenge the admissibility as evidence in judicial on Human Rights in 1978, sought to extend the use of
proceedings of information extracted as a result of torture. the death penalty in 1996 to make it mandatory for
The government had contended that it should be allowed kidnapping. AI argued that the death penalty could
to introduce into judicial proceedings information not be extended beyond the legislation applicable
obtained from abroad allegedly as a result of torture, on when Guatemala ratified the Convention and that as a
the ground that no torture had been committed or result of a law passed in 2000, Guatemala had failed
supported by UK agents. The Law Lords ruled that such to guarantee the right of a convicted person to seek
information was inadmissible in UK courts. pardon, amnesty or commutation of sentence. In
In a case before the European Court of Human September the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Rights, AI intervened with six other NGOs to argue that ordered Guatemala to suspend the death sentence in
the prohibition on the transfer (refoulement) of a person this case, and not to execute anyone condemned to
from a state party to the European Convention on death for the crime of kidnapping under the current
Human Rights to another state where he or she would legislation.
10 Amnesty International Report 2006
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE continued to benefit from a national amnesty. AI was
2005 saw some significant developments towards concerned about the composition of the courts and
bringing to justice those responsible for crimes under whether the Cambodian judges would have the
international law, including genocide, crimes against necessary training and experience, given the serious
humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions weaknesses in the Cambodian judicial system.
and enforced disappearances. However, there was also National courts in a number of countries also
continuing widespread impunity in national courts in contributed to the effort to end impunity by
the states where crimes were committed, as well as investigating and prosecuting crimes committed in
only limited use of universal jurisdiction by courts in other countries using universal jurisdiction legislation.
other states. People were convicted of crimes under international
In October, the International Criminal Court (ICC) law in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the
announced its first ever arrest warrants for five leaders UK. Canada opened its first case under its universal
of the Lord’s Resistance Army for crimes against jurisdiction legislation of 2000, charging Désiré
humanity and war crimes committed in northern Munyaneza with genocide, crimes against humanity
Uganda. AI called on the ICC and the Ugandan and war crimes committed in 1994 in Rwanda.
government to ensure that tens of thousands of other In September, Belgium issued a request for Senegal
crimes committed during the conflict were to extradite the former president of Chad, Hissène
investigated and prosecuted, including crimes by Habré, to face prosecution for the murder of at least
government forces. AI urged the Ugandan government 40,000 people, systematic torture, arbitrary arrests
to repeal an amnesty law which prevents Ugandan and other crimes, but Senegal referred the matter to
courts from addressing these crimes. the African Union. In November, former Peruvian
The ICC continued to investigate crimes committed president Alberto Fujimori was arrested in Chile. He
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but did not had been shielded from prosecution for extrajudicial
issue any arrest warrants during 2005. It also executions and “disappearances” by Japan, which
undertook preliminary analyses of eight other refused to extradite him to Peru.
situations. However, the President and Prosecutor of The long-awaited trial of Saddam Hussain started in
the ICC suggested that resource constraints would Iraq in October. Although the opportunity to obtain
limit its ability to undertake any new investigations justice for some of the crimes committed under his
until the current ones were completed. regime was welcome, AI had serious concerns about
While the UN Security Council’s referral to the ICC the lack of fair trial guarantees in the statute of the
of crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan, was a positive tribunal, denial of proper access to counsel and the
step in addressing impunity, it was disappointing that provision of the death penalty.
the Security Council, as part of a compromise to ensure Despite progress on international justice, much more
US support, included in its resolution a provision to remained to be done to address impunity. 2005 was the
exempt nationals of states not party to the Rome 10th anniversary of the massacre of around 8,000
Statute of the ICC (other than Sudan) from the Bosnian Muslims after the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica
jurisdiction of the Court. In AI’s view, this provision fell to the Bosnian Serb Army in 1995. While crimes
creates double standards of justice and violates the committed in Srebrenica have been recognized as
UN Charter and other international law. amounting to genocide by the International Criminal
The struggle against impunity was reinforced by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the women of
work of other international and internationalized Srebrenica whose husbands and sons were killed are still
courts, notwithstanding some constraints and waiting for most of the perpetrators to be brought to
setbacks. The Special Court for Sierra Leone advanced justice. In June, AI voiced concerns to the UN Security
in three trials involving nine suspects charged with war Council about its efforts to close the International
crimes and crimes against humanity. However, the Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia without
Sierra Leone government took no steps to end an establishing effective national courts to deal with the
amnesty, part of the 1999 Lomé peace accord, which tens of thousands of crimes that the Tribunal was not
prevents prosecution of all others in Sierra Leone able to investigate and prosecute. (There were similar
responsible for crimes under international law. concerns over the future of the International Criminal
Ignoring calls from the international community, Tribunal for Rwanda.)
Nigeria continued, with the apparent support of the At the international level, the courts and tribunals
African Union, to refuse to surrender former Liberian require the full support of states, in terms both of
president Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra providing resources and of exercising the political will
Leone, where he has been charged with crimes against to hand over suspects. At the national level, obstacles
humanity and war crimes against the population of to prosecutions, such as amnesties, have to be
Sierra Leone. removed, and where national justice systems have
Some progress was made in establishing special been destroyed by conflict long-term rebuilding plans
courts – Extraordinary Chambers – for Cambodia. are urgently needed. While the increase in universal
These were expected to try no more than half a dozen jurisdiction cases in 2005 was welcome, states still
people for crimes committed while the Khmer Rouge have to ensure that they do not provide a safe haven
were in power, while tens of thousands of others for people accused of crimes under international law.
14 Amnesty International Report 2006