Human rights response keeps Iraq as top topic

Controversy over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib by US soldiers dominated the agenda for NGOs again last month, with sharp divisions over how different human rights organisations addressed the issue.

The Red Cross fuelled the media frenzy, and was criticised for failing to speak out sooner about its report to the US military. Amnesty International grabbed headlines with a report linking the allegations of abuse to the war on terror, accusing the US of ‘sacrificing human rights in the blind pursuit of security’.

Human Rights Watch drew comment with its warning that the US would ‘weaken Washington’s condemnation of such violations’ in other countries.

Elsewhere, the European Commission’s decision to lift its six-year moratorium on GM foods was slated by Friends of the Earth, which accused the Commission of bowing to pressure from the biotech industry. Greenpeace added its voice, publishing a report suggesting that the dairy industry could go GM-free for less than 1p extra per litre of milk.

Children’s charities were making headlines, too. Unicef rose to sixth after it called for action on the growing number of Sudanese refugees, while the NSPCC narrowly missed this month’s top ten with 34 mentions for claiming that 71 per cent of people would welcome a ban on parents smacking their children.

Also in the spotlight was the RSPCA, after it ‘cautiously’ welcomed plans to promote best practice in animal experimentation.

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