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US Report: Human right record in Mideast generally 'poor'

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February 27, 2001 


WASHINGTON-(AP) - The human rights record of governments throughout the Mideast was generally poor last year, the U.S. State Department said Monday, reserving some of its harshest criticism for Iraq.

It also said Israelis and Palestinians abused human rights in their five-month-old fighting in occupied territories.

"Iraq remained under the complete domination of one of the world's most repressive regimes, as security forces routinely executed, tortured, beat, raped, or otherwise intimidated and abused any perceived political opponents," said the department's global human rights report for 2000.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's human rights record "remained extremely poor" over the last year, said the annual report, noting abuses are difficult to document partly because Iraq doesn't allow monitors to visit and won't establish an independent local rights organization

"Reports suggest that persons were executed merely because of their association with an opposition group or as part of a continuing effort to reduce prison populations," the report said.

In Israel's occupied territories, the Israeli government committed "numerous serious human rights abuses," the report said.

In response to the Palestinian uprising, it said, Israeli security forces sometimes used excessive force in violaton of their own rules, killing approximately 300 Palestinians and injuring thousands by year's end - a number that has since grown.

They also targeted and killed Palestinians whom the Israeli Government said had attacked or were planning attacks on Israeli settlements or military targets. Secretary of State Colin Powell has criticized the assassinations.

On the other side, the Palestinian Authority had a poor record that also worsened during the uprising, the report said.

"Palestinian security forces ... killed numerous Israeli soldiers and civilians in the cycle of violence," the report said.

Palestinian forces also failed to prevent armed Palestinians from opening fire on Israelis in places in which Palestinians were present. The extent to which senior PLO or PA officials authorized such incidents is not clear, it said.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, the report said:

--Saudi Arabia's human rights record remained generally poor in a number of areas; however, its record showed limited improvement in some areas.

Security forces continued to abuse detainees and prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, and facilitate incommunicado detention; in addition there were allegations that security forces committed torture. The Government prohibits or restricts freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement, though last year "tolerated a wider range of debate and criticism" in the press concerning domestic issues.

There was continued discrimination and violence against women, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and strict limitations on worker rights.

-- Kuwait's government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in many areas; however, its record was poor in some significant areas

The government bans formal political parties, does not allow women to vote or hold office, monitors activities of individuals and their communications, threatens the press, discriminates against noncitizen residents and restricts freedom of assembly and association.

--Egypt's government generally respected human rights of its citizens in some areas, and its record improved somewhat over the previous year because of a decrease in terrorist activity by Islamic extremists.

However, it's performance was "poor with respect to freedom of expression and its treatment of detainees, among other areas.

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