Amnesty criticises US for 'unlawful' Bin Laden raid

Published: May 24, 2012
Amnesty International criticised the United States for its use of lethal force. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Amnesty International criticised the United States for its use of lethal force. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: Amnesty International criticised the United States on Wednesday for its use of lethal force, particularly for the “unlawful” killing of Osama bin Laden in a clandestine US commando raid in Pakistan last May.

“The US administration made clear that the operation had been conducted under the USA’s theory of a global armed conflict between the USA and al Qaeda in which the USA does not recognise the applicability of international human rights law,” it said in its annual report.

“In the absence of further clarification from the US authorities, the killing of Osama bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful,” it said.

Amnesty said a request for clarification over an apparent US drone strike in Yemen last September that killed US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaqi, his al Qaeda co-conspirator Samir Khan and at least two others had also gone unanswered.

“These killings appeared to have amounted to extrajudicial executions,” the rights watchdog said.

Amnesty also hit out at human rights violations committed by former president George W Bush’s administration and condemned the “impunity” with which his officials operated.

The global rights monitor also criticised Canada for failing to arrest Bush when he visited in October, “despite clear evidence that he was responsible for crimes under international law, including torture.”

“There was no accountability for human rights violations committed under the administration of president George W Bush as part of the CIA’s program of secret detention and rendition,” Amnesty said, referring to the transfer of individuals from one country to another without access to legal process.

Attorney General Eric Holder in June 2011 launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody but dropped probes into the vast majority of alleged interrogation abuses.

Amnesty regretted President Barack Obama’s failure to shut down Guantanamo, noting that at the end of 2011, nearly two years after his self-imposed closure deadline, “171 men were still held at the base, including four who had been convicted by military commission.”

The number of detainees at the US detention centre in Cuba currently stands at 169.

The report lamented that five suspects accused of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks “had been held incommunicado for up to four years in secret US custody before being transferred to Guantanamo.”

Amnesty also criticised conditions in American prisons, in particular the high number of hours some detainees were confined in isolated cells, and the execution of 43 men last year, all by lethal injection.

“This brought to 1,277 the total number of executions carried out since the US Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 1976,” the report said.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Matt Brown
    May 24, 2012 - 8:20PM

    Where was Amnesty’s report condemning Bin-Ladens killing of 1000’s in a war of Islamic Jihad?


  • Ashvinn
    May 24, 2012 - 8:31PM

    @Matt Brown:
    Amnesty is only for terrorist and crooks


  • Truth Hurts
    May 24, 2012 - 8:31PM

    @Matt Brown:
    You mean the same Bin Laden who was supported by United States in Soviet war and called “Hero”?


  • Who?
    May 24, 2012 - 8:49PM

    Amnesty who? Tell them to condemn Pakistan for incarcerating a hero like Shakeel Afridi for thirty years! Recommend

  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    May 24, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Amnesty was a western tool to lecture third world countries on Human rights. Now its west’s turn to get lectured. I have never heard Amnesty lecturing terrorists on human rights. Never heard Amnesty when Saudis behead poor Pakistan workers. It seems everyone has his own agenda of selective morality. No wonder no one takes them seriously anymore.


  • Cynical
    May 24, 2012 - 9:51PM

    @Truth Hurts

    Are you suggesting that because Bin Laden was supported by USA in war against the soviets, he should enjoy an immunity for all acts of mayhem thereafter?


  • Cynical
    May 24, 2012 - 9:55PM

    Amnesty International does not have a responsibilty to run a government, not answerable to a body of electorate. They can say anything and get away with it.
    I don’t think anyone is unduly bothered by what they say except op-ed writers and talkshow hosts.


  • Shyam
    May 24, 2012 - 10:24PM

    Amnesty is an international embarrassment of an institution which pays extremely high salaries to its staff.


  • Mj
    May 24, 2012 - 10:47PM

    @Truth Hurts:
    The difference between OBL of the 80s and the OBL of 00s is change in tactics and what is considered by him a military target. The fighters in war against USSR primarily targeted military personnel and installations, whereas the current insurgency does not differentiate between civilians and military. The current day guerrillas are nothing but terrorists.


  • Mj
    May 24, 2012 - 10:54PM

    @Rajendra Kalkhande:
    You haven’t been looking then.

    Amnesty International – Saudi Arabia
    Amnesty International – USA
    Amnesty International – UK

    As for the terrorists, I doubt they care about human rights.


  • antanu
    May 25, 2012 - 12:51AM

    <p>@Rajendra Kalkhande:
    Then why do we go gaga over past amnesty,s reports over human rights violation in china?come on dear…get rid of your bias and be a TRUE human being</p>Recommend

  • Falcon
    May 25, 2012 - 1:43AM

    It seems like you are the only sane one here. Why is that we worship our own ideals so much that we would go against anything that is contrary to our opinions? All the esteemed organization is saying is that as per Human Rights requirement, any criminal should be given a chance to defend himself. There is a difference between being a human being and an animal. Human beings live by principles (or at least they are supposed to). Honestly, if it weren’t for selfless human beings such as those working for NGOs, the world would be a jungle anyways.


  • May 25, 2012 - 2:07AM

    One year after Bin Laden’s death and over 10 years since 9/11, American citizens are still blindly allowing their civil liberties to be taken away one piece of legislation at a time. How much freedom are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? Under the guise of fighting terrorism, laws have been put in place as a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at


  • Imran Con
    May 25, 2012 - 3:17AM

    Human rights are a positive thing.
    Human rights organizations can’t continue or exist unless they’re raising issues about something. Surely many members have good intentions, but they’d be useless and unemployed without making claims every chance they get, right or wrong. The only ones you can fully respect are non-profit and I’m quite certain Amnesty International disappearing will effect unemployment lines more than frustrated workers looking to do charity and good.

    It doesn’t matter what the original intentions are. It always evolves into something self serving when money is involved.


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