Amnesty Condemns Bush

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Human rights organisation Amnesty International has hit back at US president George W Bush’s criticism of its annual report which said the USA was practising and encouraging torture.

Bush said Tuesday that the Amnesty allegations were ‘absurd’ and came from ‘people who hate America’.

‘President Bush again failed to address longstanding concerns regarding US detention policies and practices in the context of the “war on terror”,’ Amnesty International said yesterday in response to his comments.

In a statement it added: ‘At Guantanamo, the US has operated an isolated prison camp in which people are confined arbitrarily, held virtually incommunicado, without charge, trial or access to due process.

‘Not a single Guantanamo detainee has had the legality of their detention reviewed by a court, despite the Supreme Court ruling of last year.’

Amnesty stressed: ‘Guantanamo is only the visible part of the story.

‘Evidence continues to mount that the US operates a network of detention centres where people are held in secret or outside any proper legal framework -– from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

‘US interrogation and detention policies and practices during the “war on terror”, have deliberately and systematically breached the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

‘Individuals held in US custody have been transferred for interrogation to countries known to practice torture.

‘If President Bush and his administration are serious about freedom and human dignity they should recommit to the rule of law and human rights.

‘Amnesty International continues to call on the US administration to:

• end all secret and incommunicado detentions;

• grant the International Committee of the Red Cross full access to all detainees including those held in secret locations;

• ensure recourse to the law for all detainees;

• establish a full independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and “disappearances”;

• bring to justice anyone responsible for authorising or committing human rights violations.’

When asked to comment about Amnesty International’s report during a White House Briefing, Bush said: ‘I’m aware of the Amnesty International report, and it’s absurd.’

He added: ‘The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world.

‘When there’s accusations made about certain actions by our people, they’re fully investigated in a transparent way.’

• In Iraq yesterday, at least three contractors working for the Americans were injured after a bomber targeted US forces, exploding a vehicle near the heavily guarded checkpoint leading to Baghdad International Airport.

The bomb went off just after 9am local time but no soldiers were injured, US military spokeswoman Captain Kelly Lewis said.

The bomber, who died in the blast, was targeting a checkpoint that is mainly manned by private security guards backed by US troops.

In a separate development, an Iraqi soldier died from poisoning and nine others were in a critical condition after they ate free watermelon handed out at a checkpoint in northern Iraq.

Police were searching for the assassin in what is thought to be the first such attack against Iraqi security forces.