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Report: War on terror eroded liberties

LONDON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- An international human rights legal group says harsh anti-terrorism measures have undermined the "cherished values" of Britain and other nations.

The International Commission of Jurists, a 60-nation group of lawyers based in Geneva, Switzerland, says its 3-year study of the war on terror waged by the United States, Britain and other Western countries has caused a "shocking" amount of damage to their civil liberties, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

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"Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights," said Arthur Chaskalson, a former chief justice of South Africa.

The report criticized the administration pf former U.S. President George W. Bush for allegedly equating acts of terror with acts of war -- a "legally and conceptually flawed" stance -- which the jurists said resulted in "immense damage" to the standing of international law, the Post reported.

Former British spy agency MI5 chief Stella Rimington told Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper her country avoided using the military to handle terror suspects, adding that doing so in the United States "has achieved the opposite effect -- there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

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