Hasan Suroor

LONDON: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are among the countries slammed by Amnesty International in its annual report on the state of human rights released here on Wednesday.

The report, which warns that the world is sitting on a “social, political and economic time bomb fuelled by an unfolding human rights crisis,” attacks India’s new anti-terror legislation which, it says, includes “sweeping and broad definitions” of acts of terrorism besides extending the minimum pre-charge detention periods for alleged terror suspects.

It says that after last year’s bomb blasts in several States, more than 70 people were detained without charge for periods ranging from one week to two months and there were “reports of torture and other ill-treatment of suspects.”

The report also highlights “violence against minorities” — citing attacks on Christians in Orissa — and “forced evictions” of marginalised communities in rural areas to make way for industrial projects.

It points out that most of those responsible for the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat, in which thousands of Muslims were killed, continue to “evade justice.”

Its findings about rights violations in Pakistan are even more damning. The report accuses the civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari of “failing” to fulfil its pre-poll pledge to ensure human rights protection.

“Violence in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan spilled over into other areas of Pakistan as members of the Pakistani Taleban took hostages, targeted and killed civilians, and committed acts of violence against women and girls,” it points out, highlighting reports of arbitrary arrests, “enforced disappearances” and abuses by militants as well as the Pakistani security forces.

The Sri Lankan government is accused of ignoring the plight of “hundreds of thousands” of civilians displaced in recent months in the war against the LTTE. It condemns both LTTE and the government for rights violations.

Releasing the report, which paints a grim picture of the state of human rights around the world, Amnesty’s Secretary-General Irene Khan said the global economic crisis had aggravated the rights abuses.

“Underlying the economic crisis is an explosive human rights crisis...The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems. In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat,” she said, calling for a “new global deal on human rights.”