Human Rights Day 2006 | Kofi Annan discusses our war-criminal

Human Rights Day 2006:

[W]e need an anti-terrorism strategy that does not merely pay lip-service to the defence of human rights, but is built on it .

All states agreed last year that 'terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes' is 'one of the most serious threats to international peace and security'. They were right. Terrorism in itself is an assault on the most basic human rights, starting with the right to life.

But states cannot fulfil that obligation by themselves violating human rights in the process. To do so means abandoning the moral high ground and playing into the hands of the terrorists. That is why secret prisons have no place in our struggle against terrorism, and why all places where terrorism suspects are detained must be accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Leading promoters of human rights undermine their own influence when they fail to live up to these principles.

We must fight terrorism in conformity with international law, those parts of it that prohibit torture and inhumane treatment, and those that give anyone detained against his or her will the right to due process and the judgement of a court. Once we adopt a policy of making exceptions to these rules or excusing breaches of them, no matter how narrow, we are on a slippery slope. The line cannot be held half way down. We must defend it at the top.


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