By Bonny Ibhawoh,
The times seem to be changing as this BBC new story shows. Everywhere one looks, human rights seems to be in retreat…even in the great liberal democracies of the West.
Canada puts US on ‘torture list’
The United States has been listed as a country where prisoners are at risk of torture in a training document produced by the Canadian foreign ministry. It also classifies some US interrogation techniques as torture. The manual – part of a training course on torture awareness for diplomats – also includes Israel, China, Iran and Afghanistan on its watch list. A government spokesman said the manual did not reflect the views of Canada, which is an ally of the US and Israel.
“The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government,” said a spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier. The manual lists US interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and the blindfolding of prisoners under “definition of torture”.
It also refers to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held. Critics say it ridicules Ottawa’s claims that Omar Khadr is not being mistreated. There was no immediate response from either the US or Israel.
When in 2005, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Irene Khan described the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay as “the gulag of our times,” it made headlines around the world partly because it was unusual for a powerful Western country to be at the receiving end of such strong INGO criticism of its human rights record. Such uncompromising language had traditionally been reserved for communist and Third World nations.
However, the widely reported human rights abuses associated with the U.S war on terror and in Iraq may well signal the beginning of a new era of change. Major INGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch now acknowledge that human rights are in retreat worldwide and that the United States bears most responsibility for this.
Now, the Canadian government had added the US to its list of counties practicing torture. What hope is there for international human rights promotion and protection when the great liberal democracies of the West become complicit on gross human rights violations?…..