Report alleges widespread rights abuses in U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States measures other countries against a lofty ideal when it comes to human rights, but it frequently violates these standards within its own borders, Amnesty International contends.
From prisoners forced to wear shock-emitting stun belts to police who beat suspects without cause, the 153-page report provides the group’s first comprehensive look at human rights violations in the United States.
Amnesty International accuses the United States of maintaining a double standard: criticizing other countries while not abiding by international treaties and principles of human rights itself. The United States, for example, has failed to sign the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which seeks to promote human rights for children.
Amnesty, a longtime vocal opponent of capital punishment, admonished the United States for its continued use of the death penalty. The country should move to abolish the system, which is “racist, arbitrary and unfair,” the group said.
U.S. authorities have executed more than 350 prisoners since 1990, and another 3,300 prisoners await execution on death row, the report noted, and some states execute juveniles and persons with mental retardation.
International standards dictate that law enforcement officers should use force only as a last resort and in proportion to the threat they encounter. But the report accuses police of frequently disregarding these standards, beating and abusing suspects unnecessarily.
While the United States prides itself as a haven for the persecuted, asylum seekers often end up thrown in jail, detained indefinitely and treated as criminals, says the report.
Part of a yearlong campaign focusing on human rights issues in the United States, the report recommends establishing independent bodies to monitor allegations of police brutality and abuse in prisons. It calls for a ban on dangerous restraint devices, and also asks that the United States ensure asylum seekers are detained only as a last resort.