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Small Arms Abuse Rights in 100 Nations-Report
By Chris Michaud
Updated: Mon, Jul 09 12:48 AM EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pistols, assault rifles and other small arms are
used in the commission of violent human rights abuses in 100 countries
around the world, Amnesty International said on Monday in a report
released at the start of the first U.N. Conference on Small Arms and Light
The report by the London-based human rights organization also criticized
gun-producing nations like the United States, Russia and China for trying
to prevent the conference from agreeing on a program of action that would
address human rights issues related to the international trade in small
Amnesty's report, culled from two years of worldwide research, found that
most reported abuses stemmed from firing and exploding small arms and
light weapons in circumstances contrary to international human rights
and humanitarian law.
But violent abuses committed with small arms included cases of women being
raped by soldiers at gunpoint, the arbitrary arrest and detention of peaceful
protesters and small arms being used by police, soldiers and prison officials
Such abuses increase the demand for illegal weapons by opposition and
criminal groups, Amnesty said, creating a vicious circle that results
in the suffering of millions.
Despite the reported abuses, Amnesty said major small arms-producing countries
have tried to exclude references to human rights standards from the program
of action to be approved at the U.N. conference.
"The U.N. conference is supposed to deal with the illegal trade of small
arms in all its aspects," said Brian Wood, coordinator of Amnesty's
action on small arms and the author of the report "Human Rights
Abuses with Small Arms."
"But officials have simply removed all the original references to the
misuse of small arms for internationally recognized crimes," he said.
ARMS PRODUCING STATES OPPOSE HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
The report said that powerful states, including the United States, China
and Russia, lobbied the pre-conference meetings to exclude or water down
such references in the draft text.
"Up to now, the main spoilers at the U.N. conference are the world's biggest
small arms producers and some of their defendants and allies," said Wood.
He said those countries "expose many populations around the world to persistent
human rights abuse, while their police and security aid programs ignore
or just pay lip service to human rights standards."
The Amnesty report came as diplomats, gun activists and weapons makers
from around the world gathered in New York for the two-week conference
aimed at stemming the illegal trade in small arms, which is blamed for
half a million deaths a year.
The small arms category includes handguns as well as such powerful weapons
as grenades, mortars, assault rifles, machine guns and shoulder-fired
anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
The conference is due to culminate on July 20 in the adoption of a global
action plan against small arms trafficking by delegates from the United
Nations' 189 member-nations.
The Amnesty report said of the 100 nations where abuses were documented,
30 were in sub-Saharan Africa, 22 in the Americas, 21 in Europe and the
former Soviet Union, 17 in Asia and 10 in the Middle East and North Africa.
The report also found serious human rights abuses in at least 16 countries
known to be medium-sized small arms producers, including Brazil, Egypt,
India and South Africa, as well as in more than 20 other countries that
are reported to produce small arms.
It cited Guinea, the Russian Federation, Algeria and Colombia as places
where small arms had resulted in particularly egregious human rights abuses.
In Colombia, it said, six schoolchildren were shot dead a year ago by
an army patrol that allegedly believed they were guerrillas. In Algeria,
men, women, children and babies have been shot dead, decapitated and mutilated,
burned to death or blown apart by bombs at the hands of armed bands calling
themselves "Islamic groups," the report said.
Women abducted by these armed groups have been raped; unarmed civilians
have been shot and killed, sometimes in their homes in front of their
families, by security forces or paramilitary militias, the report said.
Amnesty called on the U.N. conference to facilitate countries' prohibiting
arms exports "unless it can be reasonably demonstrated that such arms
will not contribute to serious human rights violations, crimes against
humanity and war crimes."
Recommended measures included strict controls on arms manufacturers, arms
brokers, arms transporters and arms financiers, as well as oversight procedures
[Editor's note: click the following link to read Amnesty
International's report in its entirety: http://www.rightsforall-usa.org/info/report/index.htm.
Make sure you've taken your blood pressure medicine first! - Boge
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