To read this article, click here.
"Even Amnesty International needs to be careful. Amnesty’s 2009 State of the World’s Human Rights report opens with three full-page colour photographs to illustrate human rights abuses. Two of the three photographs depict offences committed in democratic countries: a police officer in California tasering a suspect after a foot chase, and overcrowding in a French holding centre for immigrants. What is the purpose of prominently illustrating a human rights report with photos indicting democratic governments, when the worst and greatest number of human rights violations occur in the undemocratic world? Amnesty, it seems, does this for balance, in order to establish its bona fides as an impartial global arbiter. Democracies are held in no higher esteem than dictatorships. But that’s precisely the problem. Even Irene Khan, when she met with us, couldn’t bring herself to agree that Islamist governments (think Saudi Arabia) are less hospitable to human rights than liberal, secular governments. If the tasering of a criminal suspect in Long Beach, California, is deemed to represent a more relevant image of abuse than, say, the state-sponsored, public hanging of gay teenagers in Tehran, then the “human rights” movement has become an obstacle rather than an instrument in the pursuit of international justice and freedom."