Coalition Members and Human Rights

Allan Moult pointed out today that the US Department of State has just released its annual human rights report, and also pointed to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2003.

Flipping through these two very sobering documents, I was reminded of some of the posts I’d read recently (such as this from Daily Kos) decrying the hypocrisy behind our fighting “for democracy” in Iraq, when some of the members of the coalition are so blatantly careless in regards to human rights. That got me wondering just who all else was in the coalition, and what their human rights records were. So, after a little digging to find a list of coalition member nations, I give you the following — an introduction to the members of Bush’s coalition against Iraq, as presented by their records for human rights.

The USDoS pages are much drier, so I pulled quotes from the HRW report when possible, though the USDoS report was far more comprehensive (encompassing every nation, with the notable exception of the United States itself). Each country name is linked to the source document for the quote, with the source of the quote (either USDoS or HRW) immediately following.

Hopefully you’ll find this little exercise as interesting as I did.

  • Afghanistan (HRW): The fall of the Taliban regime allowed numerous military warlords to return to power, many of them former commanders during the anti-Soviet “jihad” of the 1980s who later became local strongmen during the early 1990s. As the Taliban collapsed, many of these warlords (who as allies of the U.S.-led coalition had received significant military and financial support) seized local areas they previously ruled and took control of the local political and security apparatuses. Some of these warlords were implicated in alleged war crimes committed this year against Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners, reprisals against Pashtun villagers in the north and west of the country, as well as other human rights violations. Many of these warlords also manipulated the selection of representatives for the loya jirga process during May and June (or attended themselves) and generally intimidated the populations under their control throughout the year.

  • Albania (HRW): Following a series of political crises, by mid-year Albania entered a period of what appeared to be more stable and inclusive governance. Nonetheless, impunity for police abuse, failures of various government branches to uphold the rule of law, trafficking in human beings, and widespread violations of children’s rights continued to be major concerns. The government’s desire to cast Albania as part of the European mainstream made it unfortunately more reluctant to acknowledge and address the country’s human rights problems.

  • Australia (USDoS): Federal and state police are under the firm control of the civilian authorities and carried out their functions in accordance with the law. There were occasional reports that police committed abuses.

  • Azerbaijan (HRW): On the morning of June 3 the authorities arrested eight Nardaran elders they had invited to discuss the appointment of a new mayor and simultaneously sent a large detachment of police and Interior Ministry troops into Nardaran. In the evening security forces exchanged blows with a large crowd that had gathered on Nardaran’s main square to protest the detentions. Reportedly, they attacked demonstrators with truncheons, and the latter threw stones. Security forces fired automatic weapons as a means of crowd control. One demonstrator was killed, a dozen sustained serious bullet wounds, and fifty more reportedly suffered minor bullet injuries. The security forces withdrew, making apparently random arrests as they quit Nardaran. Instead of acting to calm the situation, the government issued a statement on June 5 that blamed all violence on the demonstrators, claiming that they had opened fire on the police, and failed to acknowledge any use whatsoever of firearms by the security forces.

  • Bulgaria (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in several areas. Members of the security forces were responsible for one killing during the year. Security forces commonly beat suspects and inmates and beat and mistreated minorities. Arbitrary arrest and detention were problems. Security forces harassed, physically abused, and arbitrarily arrested and detained Romani street children. Problems of accountability persisted and inhibited government attempts to address police abuses. Conditions in many prisons and detention facilities were harsh. There remained some instances of prolonged pretrial detention, although the Government continued to improve its performance in preventing periods of pretrial detention from exceeding the statutory limit of 1 year.

  • Colombia (HRW): Colombia’s internal war intensified in 2002 following the February 20 collapse of three years of formal talks between the government and Colombia’s largest guerrilla group. Paramilitary groups operating with the tolerance and often support of units within Colombia’s military were linked to massacres (defined in Colombia as the killing of three or more people at the same place and time), selective killings, and death threats. There were numerous and credible reports of joint military-paramilitary operations and the sharing of intelligence and propaganda, including army-generated appeals to guerrillas to turn themselves in. Throughout Colombia, paramilitaries continued to move uniformed and heavily armed troops unhindered past military installations.

  • Costa Rica (USDoS): There were some instances of physical abuse by police and prison guards, and the judicial system processed some criminal cases very slowly, resulting in lengthy pretrial detention for some persons charged with crimes. Domestic violence was a serious problem, and traditional patterns of unequal opportunity for women remained, despite continuing government and media efforts to advocate change. Abuse of children also remained a problem, and child prostitution was a serious problem. Child labor persisted.

  • Czech Republic (USDoS): Occasional police violence and use of excessive force remained a problem. Long delays in trials were a problem, due to structural and procedural deficiencies as well as a lack of resources for the judicial system. There were some limits on freedom of association for groups that promoted racial hatred and intolerance. There was some violence and discrimination against women. Violence against children remained a problem. Discrimination and occasional skinhead violence against Roma remained problems. There were reports that employers attempted to prevent the formation of collective bargaining agreements. Trafficking in women and children was a problem.

  • Denmark (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Violence against women was a problem, but the Government took steps to deal with it. Trafficking in women for prostitution remained a problem.

  • Dominican Republic (USDoS): The Government’s human rights record remained poor; although there were significant improvements in some areas, serious problems remained. The number of extrajudicial killings dropped due in large part to the replacement of Police Chief Candelier with General Jaime Marte Martinez. Nonetheless, members of the security forces continued to commit some unlawful killings. The police and–to a lesser degree–the military tortured, beat, or otherwise abused detainees and prisoners. Police on several occasions used excessive force to disperse demonstrators. In a change from previous years, the Government began regularly to refer cases of police and military abuse to the civilian courts, instead of holding nontransparent proceedings in police or military tribunals. Prison conditions ranged from poor to harsh. Some prisoners died in custody due to negligence. Police arbitrarily arrested and detained suspects and suspects’ relatives.

  • El Salvador (USDoS): There were no politically motivated killings or disappearances; however, some police officers committed killings. Some police officers used excessive force and mistreated detainees. Prison conditions remained poor, and overcrowding was a continuing problem. At times police arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. Violence and discrimination against women remained a serious problem. Discrimination against disabled persons also remained a problem. Abuse of children, child labor, and forced child prostitution were also problems.

  • Eritrea (HRW): In April eleven editors and reporters arrested in a September 2001 clampdown on the independent media, and since held at a police station in the capital, Asmara, began a hunger strike to demand their release. After three days, the government moved them to secret locations and cut off all contact by the detainees with the outside world (they had previously been allowed family visits). One of the journalists, Dawit Isaac, was briefly hospitalized, reportedly as a result of torture while in police custody. None of the journalists were charged with a crime as of October 2002. Three other journalists, one of whom had been arrested in July 2000, remained unaccounted for.

  • Estonia (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens and the large ethnic Russian noncitizen community; however, there were problems in some areas. Police continued to mistreat prisoners and detainees and used excessive force. Prison conditions remained poor, although there were some improvements, including renovations in facilities nationwide. There was continued criticism of the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship and Aliens’ Law due to its Estonian language requirements. Violence against women was a problem, and there were reports that women were trafficked for prostitution.

  • Ethiopia (HRW): Police violence in Tepi and Awassa, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) regional state, resulted in the deaths of more than one hundred civilians and the arrest of hundreds. In Tepi, members of two minority ethnic groups, the Sheko and Majenger, clashed in March with local officials and police over political rights. Some civilians were reported to have been armed with machetes. At least eighteen civilians and one local official died. In the following days, more than one hundred were killed and villages razed on the order of local authorities, leaving some 5,800 homeless. Nearly one thousand civilians were arrested after the disturbance, and 269 remained in detention when a diplomatic delegation visited in June.

  • Georgia (HRW): Several thousand refugees who fled renewed armed conflict in Chechnya from 1999 lived in the Pankisi Gorge. To its credit, the government resisted pressure from Russia to forcibly return them. Yet some of the measures it took in Pankisi in the name of anti-terrorism were arbitrary or brutal. On March 22 the National Security Ministry detained two Georgian ethnic Chechen activists who worked with refugees in the gorge, Islam Saidaev and Zurab Khangoshvili, on suspicion of association with al-Qaeda, based on no evidence other than the fact that they were the only Georgian citizens to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in 2002. The ministry secured their pre-trial detention for three months by falsifying the date of their arrest, to avoid their compulsory release under habeas corpus deadlines. They were released in June, but the investigation continued. On April 28 three men of Arab origin “disappeared” after a uniformed military detachment detained them. Witnesses reported that the troops handcuffed the men’s driver, Vizuri Khangoshvili, shot him fatally in the stomach, and left him in a ditch. No criminal investigation followed. On September 25 Chechen refugee Hussein Yussupov “disappeared” while in Security Ministry detention.

  • Honduras (USDoS): Members of the police committed extrajudicial killings. Well-organized private and vigilante security forces were believed to have committed a number of arbitrary and summary executions. Human rights groups accused former security force officials and the business community of colluding to organize “death squads” to commit extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions, particularly of youth. Security force personnel beat and otherwise abused detainees and other persons. Prison conditions remained harsh, and detainees generally did not receive due process. There was considerable impunity for members of the economic, military, and official elite. A weak, underfunded, and often corrupt judicial system contributed to human rights problems.

  • Hungary (USDoS): There were reports that some police used excessive force, beat, and harassed suspects, particularly Roma. In practice authorities may impose lengthy pretrial detention on suspects. Some local officials attempted to evict Roma from their homes and relocated them to other cities. There were allegations of government interference in editorial and personnel decisions of state-owned media.

  • Iceland (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Human rights monitors expressed concern about the Government’s policy on dissent by foreign visitors and on protections of citizens’ privacy. Violence against women remained a problem that the Government took steps to address. Some societal discrimination against women persisted, especially in the area of equal pay. There were reports of trafficking in women for prostitution.

  • Italy (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; although there were some problems, the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. There were some reports of police abuse of detainees, and use of excessive force against ethnic minorities. Accusations of police abuse were investigated by the judiciary. Prisons were overcrowded. The pace of justice was slow, and perpetrators of some serious crimes avoided punishment due to trials that exceed the statute of limitations. Lengthy pretrial detention was a serious problem.

  • Japan (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. There continued to be credible reports that police and prison officials physically and psychologically abused prisoners and detainees. Officials sometimes were dismissed for such abuse but seldom were tried, convicted, and imprisoned. Violence against women and children, child prostitution, and trafficking in women were problems. Women, the Ainu (the country’s indigenous people), the Burakumin (a group whose members historically were treated as outcasts), and alien residents experienced varying degrees of societal discrimination, some of it severe and longstanding.

  • Kuwait (USDoS): The judiciary was subject to government influence, and a pattern of bias against foreign residents existed. The Government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights in some areas. Security forces occasionally monitored the activities of persons and their communications. The Government restricted freedom of speech and the press. The Government restricted freedom of assembly and association. The Government placed some limits on freedom of religion and freedom of movement. Violence and discrimination against women, especially foreign domestic servants, were problems and discrimination against noncitizens persisted.

  • Latvia (USDoS): Members of the security forces, including the police and other Interior Ministry personnel, sometimes used excessive force and mistreated persons. In most instances, the Government took disciplinary measures against those responsible. Prison conditions remained poor. Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. The inefficient judiciary did not always ensure the fair administration of justice. Violence against women was a problem, and women were discriminated against in the workplace. Child prostitution and abuse were problems.

  • Lithuania (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. Police at times beat or otherwise physically mistreated detainees and misused detention laws. The Government made some progress in holding the police accountable for abuses. Prison conditions remained poor, and prolonged pretrial detention remained a problem. There were some restrictions on privacy rights. Violence and discrimination against women and child abuse were serious problems.

  • Macedonia (HRW): Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Macedonian government repeatedly used anti-terrorist rhetoric, invented threats to score political points, and raised the specter of Islamic fundamentalism among Macedonia’s Albanians. After police shot and killed seven foreign men on the outskirts of Skopje in March, the government cast the incident as a thwarted “terrorist attack” on Western embassies in the capital. The Ministry of the Interior attempted to link the men with the NLA and al-Qaeda, and called them “mujahideen” fighters. Suspicions emerged when official versions of the incident changed, and the ministry rejected a request for international forensic experts to examine the bodies. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the victims were Pakistani and Indian migrants traveling to Greece to seek employment. The government continued, however, to label them “terrorists.”

  • Marshall Islands (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and the judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. There were occasional instances of denial of due process for detainees. Violence against women and child abuse were problems.

  • Micronesia (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Traditional customs distinguish among persons on the basis of social status and sex. Neither the Government nor other social organizations have supplanted the role of the traditional extended family in protecting and supporting its citizens. There was growing evidence of spousal abuse and child neglect, and government agencies often did not address such problems due to the constraints imposed by traditional society.

  • Mongolia (USDoS): Members of the police at times beat prisoners and detainees. Pretrial detention conditions continued to be poor although prison conditions were improving. There were no deaths reported during the year in detention centers but a number of prisoners died while in prison. Arbitrary arrest and detention were problems, as was corruption. Government attempts to enforce compliance with moral strictures and tax laws may have been an attempt to intimidate the media and may have resulted in self-censorship by the press.

  • Netherlands (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Violence and discrimination against women existed, as did child abuse. Discrimination and some violence against minorities continued to be a concern. Trafficking in women and girls for prostitution was a problem. The Government took steps to deal with all of these problems.

  • Nicaragua (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, serious problems remain in some areas. At year’s end, there were ongoing investigations of those members of the security forces who were accused of having committed unlawful killings. Police continued to beat and otherwise abuse detainees. Some detainees credibly alleged that they were tortured.

  • Palau (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in a few areas. Traditional customs sustain a value system that discriminates between persons on the basis of social status and sex. The loosening ties of the extended family and the increasing abuse of alcohol and other drugs were major contributing factors that led to instances of domestic violence and child neglect. Societal discrimination and some abuse against certain foreign workers, who accounted for nearly 30 percent of the population and 73 percent of the paid work force, were also serious problems.

  • Philippines (USDoS): Some elements of the security services were responsible for arbitrary and unlawful and in some cases extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention. Other physical abuse of suspects and detainees as well as police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption remained problems. Police and local government leaders at times appeared to sanction extrajudicial killings and vigilantism as expedient means of fighting crime and terrorism. Prison conditions were harsh. Judges and prosecutors remained poorly paid, overburdened, susceptible to corruption and the influence of the powerful, and often failed to provide due process and equal justice. Case backlogs, limited resources, corruption, and a shortage of judges hindered the courts.

  • Poland (USDoS): There were reports that police mistreated persons in refugee camps. Prison conditions remained generally poor. A cumbersome legal process, poor administration, and an inadequate budget hampered the court system, and court decisions frequently were not implemented. Lengthy pretrial detention occurred occasionally. The Government restricted the right to privacy. There were a few restrictions in law and in practice on freedom of speech and of the press. Violence against women continued to be a problem.

  • Portugal (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. Police killed five persons, all Portuguese citizens, during the year. Credible reports continued that security personnel occasionally beat and otherwise abused detainees and prisoners. Prison conditions remained poor. Lengthy delays in holding trials led to hunger strikes by some pretrial detainees.

  • Romania (USDoS): Police use of excessive force resulted in three deaths. Police officers continued to beat detainees and reportedly harassed and used excessive force against Roma. The Government investigated some police officers suspected of abuse and suspended them from duty or indicted those accused of criminal activities in military courts. However, investigations of police abuses generally were lengthy and inconclusive and rarely resulted in prosecution or punishment. The Parliament enacted legislation that transferred jurisdiction over prosecution of police abuses to the civilian court system; however, the rest of the security forces, including the Border Police and the gendarmerie, remained part of the military court system. While some progress was made in reforming the police, cases of inhuman and degrading treatment continued to be reported.

  • Rwanda (HRW): In June the Ministry of Local Affairs and local authorities directed police and members of the Local Defense Forces to round up hundreds of street children in Kigali. They detained them in overcrowded centers that lacked sufficient water, food, sanitation and supervisory staff. A member of the Local Defense Forces reportedly shot a child who tried to escape from a detention center. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reacted slowly and with insufficient force when the Rwandan authorities rounded up street children and detained them in miserable conditions.

  • Singapore (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were significant problems in some areas. The Government had wide powers to limit citizens’ rights and to handicap political opposition. There were a few instances of police abuse of detainees; however, the Government investigated and punished those found guilty, and the media fully covered allegations of mistreatment. Caning, in addition to imprisonment, was a routine punishment for numerous offenses. The Government continued to rely on preventive detention to deal with espionage, terrorism, organized crime, and narcotics. The authorities sometimes infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. The Government continued to significantly restrict freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as to limit other civil and political rights. Government pressure to conform resulted in the practice of self-censorship among journalists.

  • Slovakia (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. Police officers allegedly on occasion beat and abused persons, particularly Roma. A few politicians used discriminatory language against minorities election campaigns during the year. Skinhead attacks on Roma and other minorities continued. The number of prosecutions of racially motivated crimes increased during the year, but some NGOs alleged that a number of hate crimes were not thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators were not punished. Ethnic minorities, particularly Roma, faced considerable societal discrimination.

  • Solomon Islands (USDoS): Basic individual rights are provided for in the Constitution, but the armed conflict between Malaitan and Guadalcanalese militants in 2000 led to a serious deterioration in the human rights situation. Police and militants from both sides committed numerous human rights abuses in 2000, including killings, abductions, torture, rape, forced displacement, looting, and the burning of homes. The Government did not encourage any judicial or independent investigation of human rights abuses that occurred during the violence, which contributed to a climate of impunity. A team of international observers, present in the country since November 2000 to monitor implementation of the peace and verify that weapons were relinquished, was disbanded in June at the end of its mandate. All weapons were supposed to be surrendered during an amnesty period, which ended in May. Nonetheless, at year’s end, while there was no resumption of overt hostilities, hundreds of weapons had not been surrendered, and a stable peace had not been secured.

  • South Korea (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. The police at times physically and verbally abused detainees, although human rights groups reported that the number of such cases continued to decline. Under the Social Surveillance Law, some released prisoners were required to report to the police when moving or traveling. The use of the National Security Law (NSL) continued to infringe upon citizens’ civil liberties, including the right to free expression. In 2001 a foreign citizen was convicted under the NSL for the first time. Domestic violence, rape, and child abuse remained serious problems. Women continued to face legal and societal discrimination.

  • Spain (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, although there were a few problems in some areas; the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with cases of individual abuse. There were reports that at times security forces abused detainees and mistreated foreigners and illegal immigrants. According to Amnesty International (AI), government investigations of such abuses often were lengthy and punishments were light. Lengthy pretrial detention and delays in trials were sometimes problems. The terrorist group ETA (Basque Fatherland and Liberty) continued its campaign of shootings and bombings, killing four persons during the year. ETA sympathizers also continued a campaign of street violence and vandalism in the Basque region intended to intimidate politicians, academics, and journalists. Judicial proceedings against members of ETA continued, and Spanish and French police arrested dozens of suspected ETA members and collaborators.

  • Turkey (HRW): …many detainees reported torture by beating, sexual violence, death threats, hosing with cold water, and electric shocks. Blindfolding also continued unchecked. Victims included people detained for common criminal offenses and women, many of whom reported rape or other sexual violence. One detainee, accused of supporting an illegal organization, reported that during four days’ interrogation without access to legal counsel at Istanbul Police Headquarters in March, she was blindfolded, stripped naked, sprayed with cold water through a hose forced into her vagina, and forced to sit in excrement. In the same month, another female detainee reported that during interrogation for her alleged links with an illegal armed organization police officers at the Anti-Terror Branch of Mardin Police Headquarters stripped her naked, hosed her with cold water, and inserted a truncheon in her anus. Medical reports were consistent with her allegations of torture.

  • Uganda (HRW): Not only known or suspected political opposition supporters but civilians at large continued to be subject to arbitrary arrest and detention by government security forces, including the police, UPDF, Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), CMI, and members of the Kalangala Action Plan (a militia close to Presidential Advisor Kakooza Mutale). In many cases agents carrying out the arrest wore civilian clothes with no identifying insignia. Civilians were held in army barracks in different parts of the country (although by law the army is allowed to carry out arrests only in emergency situations), at CMI headquarters and at a facility controlled by the Joint Anti Terrorism Task Force in Kampala. Detainees were held in overcrowded cells and sometimes tortured. One woman, released in April 2002, testified how her detention had included being held for a week in March 2001 in a hole dug in the ground; another detainee told Human Rights Watch how he had been tortured on the genitals. On July 23, 2002, a detainee of the CMI, Patrick Manenero, died while being rushed to hospital. According to the death certificate, his death was caused by internal bleeding due to blunt force trauma.

  • United Kingdom (USDoS): The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; although there were some problems, the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. There were some complaints that individual members of the police and military occasionally abused detainees and some other persons. Prison conditions remained a problem, including instances of mistreatment by prison officials and overcrowding. There were occasional cases of societal violence and discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and asylum seekers, which the Government continued to combat. Trafficking in persons remained a problem, which the Government took steps to address.