HRW report: Soft approach taken on abuse

Jan. 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Governments, including those of European Union members, are taking a softer approach with human rights abusers instead of pressuring them, a rights group said.

In its "World Report 2011" released Monday, Human Rights Watch said many governments adopt policies that don't generate pressure for change instead of standing up against abusive leaders.

"The ritualistic support of 'dialogue' and 'cooperation' with repressive governments is too often an excuse for doing nothing about human rights," Kenneth Roth, HRW executive director, said in a release. "The EU's 'constructive dialogues' are among the most egregious examples of this global trend."

The report summarizes major human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories, based on investigations performed by Human Rights Watch in 2010.

Dialogue and cooperation have their place in achieving cooperation, the rights organization said. But when rights aren't respected, strong pressure can reduce any benefit a government gained by repressing rights, it said.

The report said pressure has been used primarily toward governments where outrageous actions overshadow other interests, such as North Korea, Iran or Zimbabwe.

The credibility of the European Union as a force for human rights also rests on its willingness to tackle allegations of abuses by its member states, HRW said. A record of discrimination and rising intolerance against certain groups, inadequate access to asylum and abusive counter-terrorism measures indicate member states and EU institutions must do at home what the union advocates abroad.

"Dialogue and cooperation have their place, but the burden should be on the abusive government to show a genuine willingness to improve," Roth said. "In the absence of the demonstrated political will by abusive governments to make change, governments of good will need to apply pressure to end repression."

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