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Collateral damage: human rights consequences of counterterrorist action in the Asia–Pacific

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A number of states in the Asia-Pacific region have long been recognized to be indifferent or even hostile to the international human rights regime and to have rather poor records when it comes to protection of the right to personal integrity. Since 9/11 many of these same states have become closely involved in the US-led anti-terrorist campaign, and in the course of that involvement have been identified with the serious abuse of the personal security rights of those held in detention as terrorist suspects. This article uncovers some of the bases for that indifference to human rights treaties and why the human rights records of some of these states have become of even greater concern, particularly to domestic and transnational NGOs, in the contemporary anti-terrorist era. It argues that long-standing factors associated with intra-state armed conflict and separatist rebellions, the governmental tendency to accuse domestic NGOS of following a western rights agenda, and strong attachment to the non-interference norm have undercut official governmental concerns about the abuse of the right to personal security. More recently, emulation of the worst aspects of US anti-terrorist behaviour has given rise to a sense of impunity in some cases, and has justified a militarized response to political and religious unrest in others. Finally, the difficulties that the local human rights NGOs have had in making their case to the wider domestic populations have been compounded in a climate where many of their fellow citizens are fearful of the apparent rise in support for terrorist causes and methods.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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