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Amnesty condemns US for human rights abuses -

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ELEANOR HALL: Amnesty International is trying to step up the pressure on the United States, saying
it should do more to deal with human rights abuses.

But its annual report makes a positive mention of Australia. It cites Kevin Rudd's apology to the
Stolen Generations and says governments around the world should apologise for failing to uphold the
Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Amnesty International's Secretary-General Irene Khan spoke in London to the ABC's Europe
correspondent, Rafael Epstein.

IRENE KHAN: The US is the worlds superpower, what the US does sets a record for standards of
behaviour for other governments around the world. That is why it's very important that the US
respect international human right standards, international human rights law, and we have
unfortunately seen the US undermining those standards in the name counter-terrorism.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Do you think things will improve after November?

IRENE KHAN: We are looking forward to the new US president whoever that may be, to take clear steps
to close Guantanamo, to denounce torture, to release detainees or to try them under proper trial

These we hope, will send a very clear message around the world that the US is setting a new
direction in human rights and we would like to see the US engage in human rights globally. The
world needs a United States engaged in human rights and the United States needs the world too.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: With China rising both economically and politically, do you think the Olympics and
the focus on the games will help improve the things you think need to improve in China?

IRENE KHAN: China made certain promises, human rights promises around the Olympics, and we at
Amnesty International are holding China to those promises.

Unfortunately the protests around the Olympics have had a backlash in China nationalistic,
xenophobic backlash. However, we hope that China will recognise that as a global power, it must
endorse global values of human rights and that it will once again reopen some of the reformed
efforts that it had begun last year.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Do you think though that media focus helps?

IRENE KHAN: We think that media focus has actually helped in some areas. For instance, we have
found that some of the recent prisoners such as Hu Jia has not been tortured, and we find from our
experience, that is because of the attention on his case.

At the same time we also think that media focus alone will not be sufficient. It's also important ...
open dialogue with China and engage constructively.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: You seem to have given Australia a pretty decent report card, do you think things
are improving in Australia?

IRENE KHAN: Well Amnesty International has welcomed the steps that the new government has taken in
Australia to apologise to Indigenous Aboriginal people and people from the Torres Strait.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So you think that apology was important?

IRENE KHAN: We think that apology was important, as you know we're asking governments to apologise
for six decades of human rights failure. An apology is a very important indication that governments
recognise their shortcomings and therefore that creates a good ground for doing things better in
the future.

We are also very pleased to see the Australian Government close this so-called "Pacific Solution"
and temporary protection visas for refugees and asylum seekers and put Australia back where it has
been as a country that respects humanitarian state principles and that is generous to refugees and

And we hope that the new government can go forward and endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples which as you know the previous government, the Howard Government, had actively
campaigned against.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Irene Khan from Amnesty International, speaking to Rafael Epstein in London.