Human Rights Report: An Exercise in Hypocrisy?

by TChris

Recognizing that the U.S. squandered its human rights credibility by abusing prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, the State Department made the realistic judgment that its report on human rights might not be taken seriously by the rest of the world. It delayed the report's release until today, but -- with good reason -- the rest of the world is entitled to think the U.S. needs to correct its own behavior before it points fingers at others.

Charges in the report against countries who abuse prisoners bear striking similarities to those being leveled against the United States around the world. For example, the report summarized Saudi Arabia's "poor" human rights record with these words: "Security forces continued to torture and abuse detainees and prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and detain persons and detain them incommunicado."

The report also criticizes countries for restricting freedom of the press -- exactly what the U.S. did when it temporarily closed the Iraqi newspaper Al Hawse.

If abuse of prisoners, indefinite detentions, and interference with a free press deserve criticism (and they do), the State Department might want to draft an addendum measuring the U.S. by the yardstick it applies to others. As one observor notes, the U.S. should not "be the policeman for the world" without adhering "to the same human rights standards they hold for others."

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