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Amnesty International's Annual Report


by Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law


At what point does criticism turn into bias? When that bias is clearly unjust. Amnesty International, in their latest Annual Report, attacks democracies such as America while giving easy treatment to dictators including the beheading terrorists of Iraq.


We have all been accused of bias. I receive letters, from all political stances, accusing The Law Journal UK of bias. There is no doubt that there is opinion in all communication. The key for credibility is that the opinion shown has justification in fact, and does not distort the truth.


Now, The Law Journal UK has an opinion. We are pro-liberal democratic values. We are pro-democracy. We will intelligently criticise leaders, governments and policies of nations, including those countries of a democratic nature. We support implicitly all democratic governments for a very simple reason. If abuses occur in those democratic countries, there is dissent and opposition that forces change in the policy or the society. In non-democratic countries or organisations, such improvements do not exist – and dissenters are treated in a brutal manner.


I have noted in previous articles the duplicity of many of those who condemn the US torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. That is not to say there should not be condemnation of the mistreatment of prisoners. I accept protests and concerns regarding these abuses by those believing in human rights and democracy. However, I do not accept the hypocritical rantings of those from dictatorships and religious groups far more brutal than any abuse in the US occupation in Iraq.


Equally, I find it interesting that the moralists from dictatorships and certain religious groups have said little about the beheadings of foreigners by Iraqi murderers. Where is their outrage? Or is their outrage selective?


Amnesty International is an example of this type of selective outrage. In their Annual Report for 2005, the organisation, which has a long history of bias against democracies while ignoring the abuses of their political favourites, outdoes themselves.


For example, Amnesty International refers to ‘the so-called war on terrorism’. When the term ‘so-called’ is used, that is bias against those killed by terrorism over the decades, whether IRA, Al Fatah, Al Qaeda or whatever pack of murderers. Yes, it is true that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter – yet not very many of these terrorists have as their goal the freedom of people and the world. Are the victims of terrorism then ‘so-called victims’? Absolutely not. Ask the ‘so-called families of the dead’ from the ‘so-called World Trade Centre’ on ‘so-called 9/11’.


Instead, the United States is the subject of the fiercest attack by Amnesty International. America is a country in which people may dissent, and where people who are against the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo can seek redress in the courts.


That is not saying the United States is perfect. Far from it. I have written many articles criticising the United States. These criticisms are not aimed at condemning the country. Instead, they seek to improve the country, by meeting their professed ideals.


Why do I care about American ideals? Those ideals are what have inspired freedom and change. Those ideals inspired the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, and that of many other people fighting for democracy.


There is another concern I have regarding the bias of Amnesty International. When such biased criticisms of America are made in their Annual Report, it damages the credibility of all those who legitimately criticise America.


I have always had a problem with the phrase ‘anti-American’. What is ‘anti-American’? If you mean the ‘rent-a-mob’ that protests everything and anything every weekend in most major cities, then they are not anti-American. They are anti-anything. If you mean anyone who legitimately criticises America’s actions, then his or her actions are not anti-American. They are people looking for positive change.


However, if you mean people and organisations that unjustifiably bias their attacks on America, while ignoring the brutality of others, then I would still not agree that these people and groups are anti-American.


No, they – and Amnesty International – are not anti-American. They are against democratic ideals and true human rights. For if they choose to attack democracies while ignoring dictators, then they – including Amnesty International – cannot be seen as defending human rights and democratic values.



Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder, The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law


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