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World: Rights Monitor Cites Abuses In Antiterror Campaign

New York, 17 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A major human rights monitoring group is urging leaders of the global antiterror campaign not to tolerate abuses by countries joining the coalition.

Human Rights Watch says in its annual survey released yesterday ( that countries such as Russia and Uzbekistan have sought to justify harsh domestic actions in the name of fighting terrorism. The report calls on the United States not to allow new military ties with Uzbekistan to soften its concern over widespread stifling of political and press freedoms. And it urges Western states to maintain pressure on Russia to end abuses against civilians in its war against Chechen rebels.

The rights group's report also faults European states for violating human rights in their response to the September terrorist attacks in the United States. In Hungary, for instance, it says Afghan refugees were transported to special detention facilities. Greece denied access to asylum procedures for some migrants arriving on ships. In the European Union, the group says, proposals to combat terrorism could undermine freedom of assembly and association.

Human Rights Watch echoed concerns expressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that violence targeting migrants and refugees also increased after 11 September in Western Europe. It said politicians have not responded forcefully enough to counter such attacks.

In Eastern Europe, the report said, nearly all of the candidate states for EU membership continue to have problems with the poor treatment of Roma. The Czech Republic was also accused of allowing surplus Soviet-era military armaments to be sold to conflict zones in Africa and Asia during the past two years.

The rights group said across the former Soviet states in Central Asia, the Caucasus and in Belarus, authoritarian governments continue to crack down on political opposition and independent media. It said millions of displaced people in the region continued to suffer rights violations, including hundreds of thousands in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ingushetia.

The 600-page report from Human Rights Watch profiles 66 countries, where rights violations were studied in detail, and raised alarm about growing trends such as trafficking in women.