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State department human rights abuses

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On Israel, the report said the country's overall human rights record in the occupied territories remained poor, and worsened in several areas as it continued to commit "numerous, serious human rights abuses."

Yahoo! News Tue, Apr 01, 2003
AP World - General News

U.S. cites Israel, Palestinians, China for human rights abuses
Tue Apr 1, 4:54 AM ET

By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The State Department criticized Israeli and Palestinian authorities for widespread abuses in their conflict, and denounced China for what it said was a long list of rights violations.

In its annual human rights report released Monday, the State Department said many supporters of the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq (news - web sites) had subpar rights records in 2002.

Uzbekistan earned a "very poor" rating although the study acknowledged some notable improvements. In Eritrea, the report said, "the government's poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit serious abuses."

Qatar and Kuwait, also supporters of the war, were said to be generally respectful of their citizens as were Germany and France, two countries most identified with opposing the war.

Introducing the report during a brief meeting with reporters, Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is liberating that country from a "ruthless tyranny that has shown utter contempt for human life." He vowed to help the Iraqi people create a "representative democracy that respects the rights of all of its citizens."

The report, covering almost 200 countries, said respect for human rights was generally good in Latin America but it listed six countries where rights conditions were listed as "poor" Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador (news - web sites) and Venezuela.

On Israel, the report said the country's overall human rights record in the occupied territories remained poor, and worsened in several areas as it continued to commit "numerous, serious human rights abuses."

"Security forces killed at least 990 Palestinians and two foreign nationals and injured 4,382 Palestinians and other persons during the year, including innocent bystanders," the report said.

It said Israeli security forces targeted and killed at least 37 Palestinian terror suspects.

"Israeli forces undertook some of these targeted killings in crowded areas when civilian casualties were likely, killing 25 bystanders, including 13 children," the report said.

It noted that the Israeli government said that it made every effort to reduce civilian casualties during these operations.

The report also criticized the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites)'s rights record.

It said many members of Palestinian security services and the Fatah (news - web sites) faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (news - web sites) participated with civilians and terrorist groups in violent attacks against Israeli settlers, other civilians and soldiers.

"The PLO and PA have not complied with most of their commitments, notably those relating to the renunciation of violence and terrorism, taking responsibility for all PLO elements and disciplining violators," it said.

Although there was no conclusive evidence that the most senior PLO or PA leaders gave prior approval for these acts, the report said some leaders endorsed such acts in principle in speeches and interviews.

On China, the report said abuses included "instances of extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment of prisoners, forced confessions, arbitrary arrest and detention, lengthy incommunicado detention and denial of due process."

At the same time, the report credited the government with some positive steps, including the release of a number of prominent dissidents and the granting of permission for senior representatives of the Dalai Lama to visit the country.

The administration normally attempts to censure China on human rights grounds at the annual meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The meeting is now in its third week, and Powell declined on Monday to say whether Washington will introduce a China resolution at the commission meeting.

The report noted religious harassment in Russia, but praised President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites)'s government for installing a new criminal code that, for the first time, established that people could be arrested or detained only through judicial decision.

"The changes appeared to be having an effect on police, prosecutorial behavior and the judicial system, although there were reports of noncompliance in some regions," the report said.

In Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terrorism, the report said the government's rights record remained poor. "In general police continued to commit serious abuses with impunity," it said.

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