LONDON - The United States has proved "bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle" in its fight against terrorism and invasion of Iraq, human rights group Amnesty International charged in a scathing report.
The London-based organisation's 2004 report, while also damning of rights violations in dozens of other nations, particularly targeted the Washington-led "war on terror" for sanctioning abuses in the name of freedom.
The unilateral nature of the conflict to unseat Saddam Hussein in Iraq had additionally "virtually paralyzed" the United Nations' role in guaranteeing human rights on a global level, Amnesty said Wednesday.
The 339-page document, which detailed the human rights situation in 157 nations and territories, reserved the most column inches for the United States, with damning criticism also meted out to global giants Russia and China.
Other perennial violators were also highlighted such as North Korea, Cuba and the central Asian state of Turkmenistan, where Amnesty summarised the human rights situation simply as "appalling".
However the overriding theme of the report, outlined by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan in an opening statement, singled out the United States for condemnation.
"The global security agenda promulgated by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," she charged.
"Sacrificing human rights in the name of security at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses have neither increased security nor ensured liberty."
The notion of fighting a campaign against terrorism so as to support human rights while simultaneously trampling on them to achieve this was no more than "double speak", she added.
The year 2003 had also "dealt a mortal blow" to the UN's vision of universal human rights, with the global body "virtually paralysed in its efforts to hold states to account" over the issue.
While the report only briefly dealt with damning allegations that US and British troops tortured Iraqi prisoners -- these came to light relatively recently -- it had harsh words about the nations' overall record in Iraq.
"Coalition forces failed to live up fully to their responsibilities as occupying powers, including their duty to restore and maintain public order and safety, and to provide food, medical care and relief assistance," the report's section on Iraq said.
Elsewhere, Amnesty detailed a long list of abuses in Russia, noting that the country's security forces "continue to enjoy almost total impunity for serious violations of human rights and international law" in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
China, despite the accession of a new political regime under President Hu Jintao during 2003, had made "no significant attempt" to end the use of torture and other abuses, which "remained widespread", the report said.
In the Middle East, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were taken to task for alleged rights violations, with Amnesty saying that some actions by the Israeli army, such as the destruction of property, "constituted war crimes".
One of the most damning assessments was handed to Cuba, which saw a "severe deterioration in the human rights situation" during 2003, most notably through the jailing of dozens of dissidents after "hasty and unfair" trials.
The report is available at www.amnesty.org/report2004
© 2004 AFP