CSS Notes English Essay

CSS Essay | War on Terrorism is Contributing towards Growing Abuse of Human Rights (CSS 2015)

CSS Essay on War on Terrorism is Contributing towards Growing Abuse of Human Rights
Written by CSS Times

War on Terrorism is contributing towards Growing Abuse of Human Rights (CSS 2015)

Essay Outline: War on Terrorism is contributing towards Growing Abuse of Human Rights

1. Introduction
2. War on Terrorism
3. What are Human Rights?
4. War on terrorism and abuses of human rights
(i) Violation of Political and social rights
(a) Loss of life
(b) Arbitrary Detention
(c) Extraordinary Rendition
(d) Denial of right to Petition
(e) Repressive laws
(f) Suppression of Freedom of Expression
(g) Discriminations
(h) Invasion of Privacy
(i) Sexual Assault
(ii) Education
Case of Iraq
(iii) Demolition of social infrastructure
5. Violations of human rights in Pakistan
6. Is there an alternate to the WOT?
7. Role of Civil Society and Media
8. Recommendations
9. Conclusion

What have been the costs of war on terrorism in human and economic terms? How has the war changed the social and political landscape of the countries where the war has been waged? What is the long term economic effect of the war likely to be? What have been the public health consequences of the war? Were and are there alternative less costly and more effective ways to prevent further terror attacks? How has and to what extent the war contributed to the abuse of human rights? These are some of the frequently asked questions that the war in the course of its continuity has raised in minds of every conscious person. The war that began in 2001 proved tremendously painful for millions of people across the world, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and the United States. Each additional month and year of war adds to that toll. Moreover, the human costs of these conflicts will reverberate for years to come in each of the affected country. The war on terror, in fact proved a great misfortune on the lives of its victims. Civilians have been killed unjustly and tortured without any concrete reason. It is continued on a great pace and bringing more and more societies under its enervating influence. Without mitigating acts of terror and strengthening security, war on terrorism, in fact, is espousing fear and creating a sense of repression among certain quarters of the world. Evidently, behind the facade of war on terrorism, International law is widely being disregarded, oppositions are being repressed, not to talk of the humiliation that values and rights have suffered at the hands of imperial regimes. It is safe to assume that the commencing of the war on terrorism virtually resulted in the end of the sanctity attached to human rights.

Read also: The Origins of the Universe

The War on Terrorism is not like any other kind of war. The enemy, Terrorism, is not a territorial state, nation, or government. There is no opposite number to negotiate with. There is no one on the other side to call with a truce or declare a ceasefire, no one among the enemy authorized to surrender The war is overseen by the United States and the United Kingdom and also receives much support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The “War on Terror” officially began on October 7, 2001 and was spurred by the attack on the World Trade Center of the United States on September 11, 2001. The initial phase of the “War On Terror” was the war in Afghanistan. This resulted in the fall of the Taliban government as well as the destruction of the Al ‘Qaeda camps. The Iraq War began in 2003 and has resulted in the overthrow of the Baath Party government as well as the execution of Saddam Hussein, the nation’s former leader. The phrase “War on Terror” was initially used by President George W. Bush on 20th September 2001.The Bush administration and the Western media have since used the term to signify a global military, political, and conceptual struggle targeting both organizations designated as terrorist and regimes accused of supporting them.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever their nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups. The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law. The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights All human rights are indivisible. Non-discrimination against sex, colour, race, and so on is a cross-cutting principle in international human rights law

The “War on Terror” has led, in its wake, to grave human rights violations and, in response, to a growing volume of human rights litigation. Certain quarters allege that the “War on Terror” has been exploited by western governments to reduce civil liberties and take away basic human right thus the term “war” is not appropriately used in this context since there is no single and clearly outlined enemy.

War on terrorism come up with extensive violations of civil and political rights that still continue to occur in the world, with such incidents as demonstrations, shootings, torture, hostage-takings, killings and so on. Political participation and decision-making in the affected countries especially Iraq and Afghanistan remain seriously impaired by sectarian and insurgent violence, widespread corruption, and the influence of foreign powers.

The cost of war in terms of human lives has been increasingly grave and painful. A research conducted by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies indicates that over 350,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and many more indirectly. It is expected that indirect deaths from the war, including those related to malnutrition, damaged health infrastructure, and environmental degradation would, if tallied, outnumber deaths from combat. Moreover, at the hands of all parties to the conflict, 220,000 civilians have been killed, and more are expected to die in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as the violence continues. But most observers acknowledge that the number of civilians killed has been undercounted. The true number of civilians dead may be much larger when an adequate assessment is made.

One of the most notorious issue and certainly the one giving rise to the most voluminous litigation is the arbitrary detention. Since September 2001, the war on terrorism has been directly responsible for a broad array of serious human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials. In many instances, one country or another carried out abuses in collaboration with other governments. The United States government has detained hundreds of thousand of people in the ten years since 9/11, both in “theatres of war” and around the world. Practices of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment have come to light in recent years with increasing regularity, as epitomized by the scandals such as of Abu Gharaib or Baghram. In Iraq, over 100,000 prisoners have passed through the American-run detention system, with prisoners not having any effective way to challenge their detention. Hidden facilities continue to be identified and do not comply with International Red Cross requests for site visits. In Afghanistan, in the first three years of the war, the U.S. detained 50,000 people, holding up to 11,000 at one time during the peak of the insurgency in March 2004. Many reports have emerged of additional “black jails” in Afghanistan, where detainees were secretly held without the International Red Cross oversight required by the Geneva Conventions. Afghani prisoners have reportedly had no access to lawyers and have been unable to challenge the basis for their imprisonment.

Read also: CSS Essay Outline | The Importance of Water Conservation and Management

Perhaps, the most insidious, is the move from illegality to extra-legality (extraordinary rendition), the practice of removing individuals from the protection of law altogether, epitomized by disappearance and rendition, that have been the subject of various litigation initiatives. To the contempt of a prisoner’s rights, the United States has secretly stolen away suspects to other CIA-run hidden “black site” prisons or passed them to foreign countries with more lax human rights standards to be interrogated via the seizure process known as “extraordinary rendition.” Published data suggests facilities have been located in more than 28 countries. The U.S. government has never released the numbers of persons subjected to extraordinary rendition. Along with US, many other countries are also involved in this heinous crime against civil liberties.

The prisoners of war on terrorism have largely been denied of the right to petition and fair trial. Significant numbers of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, later, have been found innocent. However, their unjust detention and mistreatment has helped to foment desperation towards the universal acknowledgement of human rights. Suspected terrorists who are captured by the US Army are being sent to exile where nobody knows their whereabouts be it the person’s family or the victim government. These civilians are tortured and detained on mere remorse coming from some secret organizations of the US. Sometimes, most of the civilians remain behind bars in the US prisons for the rest of their life without being trialed in any court of competent jurisdiction. Under the United State Act and Human Right Act, everyone has the right to be judged, trialed and have access to a lawyer, but unfortunately, that is not the case here.

Some governments adopted abusive practices in response to direct US pressure. Most notably, the US encouraged a number of countries to pass draconian counterterrorism laws, often laws that expand police powers, reduce due process guarantees, and set out vague and overbroad definitions of terrorism. Many governments latched onto the Bush administration’s “war on terror” arguments to justify their own abuses, particularly the notion that defeating terrorism trumps any countervailing human rights obligations.

Repressive governments, always seeking rhetorical cover for their violations, were quick to adopt the language of counterterrorism to help shield their abuses from critical scrutiny. In Egypt, for example, the Hosni Mubarak government specifically cited the “war on terrorism” and new security laws passed in the United States and elsewhere to justify the 2003 renewal of long-standing emergency powers.

The enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly has long been partial, and often perilous, for war critics across the world. The war on terrorism has accelerated markedly the squeeze on the exercise of these rights. Independent NGOs, critical media outlets and public protesters across the globe have all borne the brunt of an assault on fundamental freedoms that has been fuelled and “justified” by an increasingly aggressive propaganda drive to depict curtailing of the rights as necessary steps to end terrorism. Several restrictions were imposed by many governments on the name of public security that substantially contributed to limit the rights to freedom of expression and association, the presumption of innocence, freedom of movement, the right to privacy, and the right to leave and return to one’s country. Police officers are given broad discretion without procedural safeguards to fine people who show a “lack of respect” towards them. Government authorities rather than courts have been empowered to impose fines for numerous public order offences (violation of the right to assemble), risking fair trial guarantees. The war on terrorism, hence, led to serious backward steps for freedom of expression and assembly.

Consequent upon war on terrorism is the emergence of unprincipled discriminations between nationals and non-national, among people of different races, ethnicities and genderو as illustrated by the widespread alleged justification of arbitrary detention of the non-nationals in US. This Disparate treatment raises complex issues concerning the human right to non-discrimination. Differential treatment on the basis of nationality, national origin, ‘race’ or religion is only compatible with the right to non-discrimination if there are objective and reasonable grounds for it. However, in the context of the current ‘war on terror’, there are no sufficient justifications for applying powers of preventive detention or trial by special tribunal only to foreign nationals. It is evident through law enforcement methods or immigration policies that people are singled out for special scrutiny based on their national origin, or their ethnic or religious appearance. In the long term, these discriminatory anti-terrorism measures will have impacts beyond their original scope and fundamentally reshape ordinary legal regimes and law enforcement methods.

After the massive terrorist attacks against The World Trade Center, many Muslims and Arab Americans have been persecuted. Muslim men have been characterized as dangerous, violent and highly suspect within the popular imaginary and much of Western media, which has lead to sanctioning of civil human rights violations, largely through detainment, deportation, and surveillance. In fact, the Muslim/Arab communities in the West are feeling the retaliation for something they are not remotely responsible for just because they are of a certain ethnic group.

One of the most condemnable violations, ironically, justified by the war on terrorism, is the massive invasion of privacy by the intelligence agencies. The USA categorically back this violation as a necessary step to access personal details in order to build profiles of terror suspects by data mining. Governments across the world are already collecting and sharing much of information related to personal domain of an individual through bilateral and multilateral agreements covering passenger name records, visa applications and border surveillance systems, among others. Modern intelligence access often involves intrusive methods of surveillance and investigation that are certainly at the expense of some aspects of privacy rights.

Of all the untold mysteries, sexual assault on women and men forms the darkest secrets related to the war on terrorism. Despite not being a traditional armed conflict, sexual violence has been rampant in the global war on terror. Whether in Guantanamo Bay’s detention centre or in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, sexual violence was often used as a tool of torture in interrogation. In Guantanamo Bay’s detention centre, it was reported that female interrogators used sexual torture to break Muslim prisoners into “confessing”. There were several reports and testimonies of released prisoners which reveal that sexual violence and sexual humiliation were used as interrogatory tactics in the detention centres. A former US soldier, Saar, who served at Guantanamo Bay also confirmed the use of sexual torture to coerce and interrogate prisoners. The testimony of a detainee, Jumah Al Dossari to Amnesty International explains that he was “interrogated hundreds of times, beaten, tortured with broken glass, barbed wire, burning cigarettes, and sexual assaults.” A series of photographs that have been kept from public viewing for good reason speak volumes of the kind of violence that prevailed in the prison. Some of these photos reveal an American soldier raping a female prisoner, while some photos show instances of interrogators sexually assaulting prisoners with all kinds of objects including things like a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Plenty of instances of rape of female inmates at the hands of soldiers transpired, admitted to
having happened even by senior officials of the US.

There have been reports pointing out the cases when Women and girls were raped by soldiers or forced into prostitution. For a long time, the international community has failed to address the problem of sexual violence during armed conflict. However, sexual assaults, which often involve sexual mutilation, sexual humiliation, and forced pregnancy, are quite common. Trafficking of women increased markedly after the commencing o war. It is a form of sexual slavery in which women are transported across national borders and marketed for prostitution. These so-called “comfort women” are another example of institutionalized sexual violence against women during wartime. Sexual violence is also used to silence women who are politically active, or simply inflict terror upon the population at large.

The war on terrorism harmed the educational systems in different ways, resulting at one hand, in the complete degradation of the Iraqi and Syrian education system and, at other hand, substantial damages to the educational institutes in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, where, earlier too, there was no established educational infrastructure, however, war on terrorism also failed to facilitate learning process.

Prior to the war on terrorism, Iraq possessed at its disposal, an appreciable level of educational facilities. Currently, however, its educational system has nearly collapsed. Its universities have lost the prestige that they have been enjoying in the Middle East. In the early years of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the education system in Iraq was well resourced, globally connected, secular and open to women. University education was free and literacy levels rose from 52 percent in 1977 to 80 percent in 1987. However, soon, consequent upon Iraq War, arrived the near collapse of Iraq’s educational system that was the result of the culmination of a process of decline that war on terrorism set in pace. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, museums and university libraries were looted and many of their cultural artefacts and documents destroyed. Iraqi universities were stripped clean not only of cultural artefacts like books but also of the basic infrastructural items. Equally desperate is the fact that the war led to the removal of half the intellectual leadership in academia regardless of whether or not they truly believed in the Baath party (Saddam’s Hussein’s party). Many professors were kidnapped and assassinated during the violence that followed the US invasion. While the exact number of academics killed is difficult to determine, estimates by journalists range between 160 and 380 by 2006. Female students have meanwhile become targets of threats and intimidation by fundamentalist militia groups. In just a decade, Iraq’s universities, reputedly among the best in the Islamic world, were effectively destroyed.

Demolition of social infrastructure like schools, hospitals, electricity and more is also a major factor. Due to “War on Terror”, the victim countries social infrastructures are destroyed whereby it prevents their civilians from enjoying government benefit. According to a 2013 recent publication by Reuters, more than a fifth of Syria’s schools have been destroyed or made unusable in more than two years of conflict, jeopardizing the education of 2.5 million young people. Hitherto, due to demolition of social infrastructure like hospitals, civilians do not get access to shelter and healthcare which makes them become very sick and malnourished. Access to healthcare remains very limited, with 15% of the population without access to even the most basic healthcare services. In areas where fighting continues, militants lack respect for the neutrality of healthcare facilities, making attending these facilities dangerous. Additionally, the “War on Terror” forces citizens to move out of their country due to the dilapidated state of the countries building after the shootings and bombings. Since they have no place to stay and can’t get access to food and safety, the situation compiles them to migrate to other neighbouring countries hence becoming refugees in other to survive

Pakistan has been the front line ally of the US in war against terrorism. With the decision of Pakistan to eliminate terrorism of all forms and hues, there resulted a dramatic escalation of the conflict between militant insurgents and Pakistan’s government. It is difficult to know how many have died in Pakistan since 2001 due to the violence and how many of those are civilians. Most of the fighting is concentrated in the Northwest, near the border with Afghanistan, but the bloodshed not infrequently affects civilians throughout Pakistan. Sectarian conflict targeting the country’s minority Shiites population has been on the rise in recent years.

At least 52,000 Pakistanis (combatant and non-combatant) have been killed since 2004 and more than 50,000 have been injured during that period by the various parties to the conflict. This does not include the likely deaths of tens of thousands more combatants — both insurgents and Pakistani government forces. The US began its semi-covert campaign of drone strikes in 2004 to kill Al Qaeda and Taliban forces based in Northern Pakistan. These strikes have killed about 3,000 people, including many civilians, as of March 2014. The arguments about how many of the dead are civilians are nearly as intense as the disputes about the legality of the strikes. Many legal scholars regard them as clear violations of international law.

The burden of war is also evident in the number of Pakistanis who are both internally displaced and who have sought refuge in other countries. Although the exact numbers are difficult to determine, millions of Pakistanis have been pushed from their homes in the last several years.

While acknowledging all the grave consequences of war on terrorism, question emerges, ‘Is there then an alternate to war on terrorism?’ In fact, War both as a response and as a strategy to eliminate terrorism is by no means flawless. While confronting an enemy that transcends borders and does not recognize any define grounds, war at all is not an option. A research conducted by Rand Corporation made systematic examination and comparison of 268 groups using terror tactics in the period from 1968 to 2006. It showed that several approaches have been much more effective than military responses at eliminating future attacks. They include criminal justice responses and attempts to address the well-being concerns of both combatants and the broader populace that might support them. The study found that 40 percent of the 268 groups were eliminated through ‘intelligence and policing’ methods; 43 percent ended their violence as a result of ‘peaceful political accommodation’; 10 percent ceased their violent activity because they had achieved their objectives (“victory”) by ‘violence’; and only 7 percent were defeated ‘militarily’.

Military responses have often created more extensive violent response and terrorism against the civilian population caught between two opposing forces. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have served as an effective recruiting device for new terrorists. For example, contrary to the US government’s rationale that invading Iraq would prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists, the country has instead become a laboratory in which militant groups have been able to hone their techniques of propaganda, recruitment, and violence against the most highly trained military in the world. The number of terrorist attacks in Iraq rose precipitously following the 2003 invasion and has not returned to its pre-war level.

In addition, wars often create the conditions for additional violent conflicts over the new resources and new political alignments created by an initial invasion or occupation. The civil wars and criminal violence that erupted in both Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of this phenomenon.

Civil societies and media must work for the rights of victims of terrorism and other violence by armed groups, supporting them in their struggle for truth, justice and reparation. They should expose and oppose unlawful detentions carried out in the name of national security or countering terrorism. Moreover, as thousands of people are still going ‘disappeared therefore, media and civil society in this regard have an obligation to run campaign to probe and recover the disappeared persons and for an end to enforced disappearances. Civil societies must continue to demand respect for the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. During their struggle to liberate civil rights they should, however, know, that the global legacy of the past years may not be quick to disappear and the example of abuses committed by states through the world, especially by U. S, will not be easily forgotten. Therefore, the struggle against human rights violation must continue, at one hand, at a consistent and steady pace and at other hand, should cover all consequent aspects of the war.

All states must respect human rights in any action they take in the name of national security or countering terrorism. By closing all arbitrary detention centres, shutting down agencies run-prisons, and condemning rather than justifying torture, the government administrations can make enormous strides. Not only should the governments reform their own practices, they should also remedy their impacts on the affected peoples. Constitutional amendments and ordinances that led towards the tightening of the law should be repealed and brought in conformity with the constitution and ensure that these do not violate fundamental rights. Instead of proclaiming repressive laws in the entire country, the governments should invoke emergency powers (nearly in all countries, constitution enshrine emergency powers to the governments) at a limited scale to suspend fundamental rights in selected areas troubled with the conflicts. While countering terrorism, respect should be paid to the universally acknowledged principle that all people are equal before the law. Every person has the right to either be charged and fairly tried, or be released, and not tortured or abused.

All directly-involved governments especially US have a duty to take a fresh look at creating truth commissions in their respective countries that could provide a comprehensive view of the policies and practices behind abuses and the connections across institutions, as well as the human and political consequences of policies and actions. In addition to investigating and determining the facts and holding the architects of these abuses to account, the victims of such serious rights violations should be provided redress.

Since US declaration to wage a war against terrorism, it has substantially been contributing towards the loss of civil liberties. From the rugged mountains of Afghanistan to the fluvial plains of Syria, and from the settled areas of Pakistan to the volatile regions of Iraq, the war in its wake has led countless humans dead. It is continued on a great pace and bringing more and more societies under its enervating influence. Without mitigating acts of terror and strengthening security, war on terrorism, in fact, is espousing fear and creating a sense of repression among certain quarters of the world. Evidently, behind the facade of war on terrorism, International law is widely being disregarded; oppositions are being repressed, not to talk of the humiliation that values and rights have suffered at the hands of imperial regimes. Now, when the war has reached this dark end, it is now or never for all the stake holders to stop and pour over the utility of the war. Evidently, it is nothing short of flaws. It has wreaked so great a havoc that its effects may not disappear quickly. There is a need to protect and promote human rights and every one’s right related to social, civic and political spectrum must be protected.

“We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred is a wedge designed to attack our civilization”
(Franklin D. Roosevelt)

“Injustice any where is a threat to justice everywhere”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)

“Only the dead has seen the end of war” (Plato)

About the author

CSS Times

Shahzad Faisal Malik is the administrator of CSSTimes.pk and is responsible for managing the content, design, and overall direction of the blog. He has a strong background in Competitive Exams and is passionate and sharing information with others.
Shahzad Faisal Malik has worked as a Graphic Designer/Content Creator at CSSTimes in the past. In his free time, Shahzad Faisal Malik enjoys watching Cricket, writing blogs for different websites and is always on the lookout for new and interesting content to share with the readers of this website.
As the website administrator, Shahzad Faisal Malik is dedicated to providing high-quality content and fostering a welcoming and engaging community for readers. He looks forward to connecting with readers and hearing their thoughts and feedback on the website.

Leave a Comment