The EU is neglecting human rights in favour of securing trade deals or co-operation on anti-terror measures, a human rights group has said. In its annual report, Human Rights Watch said the UK in particular was ignoring abuses in Russia and Saudi Arabia to secure business contracts.
Get the HRW Report here (PDF, 2.4mb)

And it accused the US of having a deliberate strategy of abusing terror suspects during interrogation. White House reassurances that it does not torture are deceptive, it said.

President George W Bush "continues to offer deceptive reassurances that the United States does not 'torture' suspects, but that reassurance rang hollow", the report said. The country's resulting lack of credibility on human rights issues left "a global leadership void when it came to defending human rights".


The 544-page annual report said 2005 was marked by a "continuing tendency to subordinate human rights to various economic and political interests". The group said there was an "unseemly competition" between leaders from the UK, France and Germany to proclaim the closeness of their relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite human rights concerns in Chechnya.

The EU also "utterly failed" to tackle the US on its "practice of 'disappearing' terrorist suspects", Human Rights Watch (WRW) said. It singled out France and Germany for pressing to lift the EU arms embargo on China despite a lack of progress on holding accountable those responsible for the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Meanwhile, the UK has been pressing hard for Saudi Arabia to buy arms from British manufacturers "while remaining silent on the kingdom's abysmal human rights record", the report said.

In its look at other countries, HRW said:

  • The situation in Iraq has deteriorated significantly through the actions of anti-US insurgents and US-led international and Iraqi forces. The group said it was particularly concerned about "the absence of basic precautions by the US military to protect civilians"
  • Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf has neglected the rights of women and religious minorities since he came to power in 1999, political opponents are arbitrarily detained, and news media are intimidated and harassed
  • China has made progress but remains a one-party state that "leads the world in executions... and represses minorities"
  • In Nepal, government forces and Maoist rebels "continue to engage in serious violations of international humanitarian law"
  • North Korea continues to be one of the most repressive countries in the world, with its citizens lacking even basic civil freedoms