COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Amnesty map points to breaches of civil liberty

KIRSTEN DOWNER

Amnesty International has produced a new map graphically depicting how democratic countries have curbed civil liberties since 11 September last year.

The organisation's Report 2002 revealed that since 11 September, it was democratic countries rather than dictatorships which had taken the lead on curbing civil liberties. The new map, on Amnesty's web site, makes this trend much more obvious and accessible to Amnesty members, other local and international human rights organisations and the media.

Huge swathes of the map are in blue and red, which represent countries which have drafted or passed new anti-terrorist legislation. It shows that democratic countries such as the UK, France, and Germany are clamping down on civil liberties, in common with dictatorships such as Zimbabwe, China and Pakistan. Striking icons of skulls, truncheons and handcuffs litter the map, each signifying human rights abuses such as the death penalty, use of torture and harsher conditions of detention. A twin towers icon is used to represent serious human rights violations since 11 September, and this icon appears next to Russia, Israel, China, Zimbabwe and, closer to home, Macedonia.

The map coincides with the publication of a report accusing the British government of contravening human rights with new anti-terrorist laws.

Eleven men arrested in the UK in the aftermath of the 11 September bombings have still not been charged and are locked up 22 hours a day, according to the Amnesty International report, Rights denied: the UK's response to 11 September 2001.

The map can be seen on Amnesty International's web site, www.amnesty.org.uk/news/mag, and has been sent out to members in the organisation's quarterly newsletter.

It will be updated once Amnesty's next report on human rights infringements comes out in October.

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