US terror policy slammed for lacking 'credibility'

10th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2005, MADRID-The Madrid international conference on prevention of terrorism heard fierce criticism of US policy over human rights, as experts unveiled a UN high level report.

10 March 2005

MADRID-The Madrid international conference on prevention of terrorism heard fierce criticism of US policy over human rights, as experts unveiled a UN high level report.

Former Thai prime minister Anand Panyarachun and former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans opened up the day's proceedings with calls for a clear response to terrorism.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch USA, said US policy on terrorism under President George W Bush was proving counter-productive and damaging the nation's reputation.

"Bush is spending lot of time taking about freedom, democracy and liberty - but he has deliberately not talked about human rights," Roth claimed, adding that White House policy "undermines credibility".

Roth explained: "It degrades the very standards we need to rely on today and frankly it breeds resentment.

"It is contributing to the loss of the swing vote which we need to win in order to defeat terrorism," he added.

Roth meanwhile admitted there were some people who would always seek to sow terror but said attempts should be focused on winning the hearts and minds of those who were not so minded.

"There are certain people, epitomised perhaps by Osama Bin Laden, who you will never convince to give up terrorism," Roth said.

Fellow panel participants couched their language in more diplomatic terms, befitting their status as former frontline politicians.

"It is time to step up to the plate and find a definition for terrorism," said Panyarachun.

The United Nations has been working on producing a new convention on combating terrorism which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was to expound upon in a keynote address later in the conference.

Panyarachun said the right to resist occupation did not include the right to target and attack civilians.

"The definition put forward makes clear that there is no cause under the sun that could justify ... the killing of civilians. The message is that the killing of civilians is unjustifiable irrespective of circumstances."

Amr Moussa, general secretary of the Arab League, warned that "we cannot achieve security only by combating terrorism" but by also tackling related issues such as poverty and other "issues that generate frustration".

"All of these should be borne in mind when we discuss terrorism," he went on. "We have to address why terrorism has threatened international life to that extent."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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