Human rights abuses have fuelled extremist groups

Governments that ignore human rights are fuelling the rise of extremist groups such as Isis and Boko Haram, campaigners have warned.

Human Rights Watch’s 25th annual report said the rise of such groups “did not emerge in a vacuum” but was the result of regional abuses.

It also criticised the US for ignoring such abuses and concentrating solely on its own aims.

The group’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said some political leaders “appear to have concluded that today’s serious security threats must take precedence over human rights. Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises,” he said.

“Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them.”

The report points to military crackdowns in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and China – but also to the US, where the use of torture has been well documented, but nobody has been prosecuted.

Britain, too, risked trampling on human rights, Mr Roth added. “British intelligence, GCHQ, immediately seized on Charlie Hebdo (the shootings in Paris) to justify its request for more surveillance powers,” he said.

Human Rights Watch said Isis had not appeared “out of nowhere”. It explained: “In addition to the security vacuum left by the US invasion of Iraq, the sectarian and abusive policies of the Iraqi and Syrian governments and international indifference to them have been important factors in fuelling Isis.

“A similar dynamic is at play in Nigeria, where human rights concerns are central to the conflict. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram attacks civilians as well as Nigeria’s security forces… Nigeria’s army has often responded in an abusive manner, rounding up hundreds of men and boys suspected of supporting Boko Haram, detaining, abusing, and even killing them.”

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