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Around the World - Human Rights Survey
Introduction The Issues Worldwide Human Rights Human Rights Survey

Human Rights Survey

Since becoming independent of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has taken a hard line against Islamic extremism. In a nation of Muslims, the government only permits a moderate form of Islam; mere possession of fundamentalist pamphlets is punishable by years in prison, and more radical acts are punishable by death. To some, these laws deny freedom of religion. Others laud them as the only effective means of protecting Uzbekistan -- and the world -- from terrorism cloaked in religion. (Many Uzbeks are in the Taliban.) Do you agree with the policies of Uzbekistan?
Yes
No

The European Union has banned capital punishment. In a recent case, France denied a U.S. extradition request, insisting first on a guarantee that the suspect will not face the death penalty. Other European nations have suggested that they will not extradite alleged terrorists to the U.S. in capital cases. Some criticize the Europeans for being self-righteousness, imposing their laws upon America. Others praise their noble stand, consistent with their own laws, in support of human rights. Do you think opposition to the death penalty is a valid reason to deny an extradition request?
Yes
No

A divorced woman was recently sentenced to death by stoning in northern Nigeria for committing adultery. There are no witnesses; the evidence is her infant child. (Though she claimed she was raped, no man has been charged in the case.) Her sentence was administered under sharia, the strict Islamic law that now governs most of the northern states in Nigeria. Should the Nigerian federal government -- or anyone else -- intervene on her behalf?
Yes
No

In Vietnam and other developing countries, many factory workers making products -- clothing and sneakers, in particular -- for Western companies earn minuscule salaries, often 20 cents an hour or less. Some of the workers are children, and many work under what advocates call "sweatshop" conditions. Yet this may all be legal. Eventually, the fruits of their labor are sold in the U.S. and elsewhere. Despite the significant mark-up, the final product is affordable for most American consumers. Depending on your perspective, this is either an example of capitalism or exploitation at work. Do you support protests against these companies or boycotts of their products?
Yes
No

The U.S. government and military have avoided identifying captured Taliban fighters as "prisoners of war," instead referring to them as "unlawful combatants." Some organizations and political leaders have expressed their concerns that this semantic distinction reflects an American effort to circumvent the Geneva Convention and other internationally accepted standards regarding treatment of individuals captured in combat. Should the captured men be considered traditional "prisoners of war"?
Yes
No

The United States government restored Most Favored Nation (MFN) trading privileges to China in 1979, and, despite fervent debate, the U.S. has renewed China's MFN status every year since. Those against renewing China's MFN designation cite a government that has been unrepentant for the massacre at Tianenmen Square in June, 1989; more executions than any other nation; endemic religious persecution; and a variety of other confirmed and alleged human-rights violations. Many in favor of MFN status argue that exposure to capitalism will cultivate democracy in China. (Others are more pragmatic, preferring to focus on the economic rewards of trading with a nation of one billion people and an exploding economy.) Should the U.S. suspend Most Favored Nation status until China improves its policies on human rights?
Yes
No

The U.S. government has refused to sign on to the International Criminal Court and has threatened to punish other countries that do. One of the concerns the State Department has raised is the fear that U.S. military officers would be tried for their behavior. While international shapers of the court have tried to alleviate those concerns, the U.S. is still holding out. Should the United States join the International Criminal Court?
Yes
No

One of the most basic human rights, and one of the earliest proposed in the Western evolution of rule by law in a democracy, is the right to habeus corpus. Habeus corpus means that detained people have the right to come before a judge or legal magistrate, to be told the charges they face, and to have their case dealt with speedily. American democracy has also developed the right to due process. These rights were non-existent or non-functioning in El Salvador in the 1980s, and the lack of legal constraints exacerbated abuses of power. But today in the U.S., human-rights advocates point to the absence of habeus corpus in the arrests of hundreds of Muslims and Arab Americans. (Many were detained for a week or more without any charges being brought against them.) There has yet to be an accounting of who was arrested and where they were and are incarcerated. Is the U.S. government wrong for denying the right to habeas corpus in these cases?
Yes
No