Two of the leading adversaries in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, have governments so repressive that no one is available in them to monitor human rights violations, a human rights group said yesterday.
Those countries and Albania, Ethiopia and North Korea were the worst five violators of rights cited by Human Rights Watch in its fourth annual survey of persecution of human rights monitors worldwide. The five allow no monitors at all.
Thirty-one monitors were killed, and another eight "disappeared" after being taken into custody, the report said, citing more than 500 cases of persecution in 50 countries.
But the numbers are lower than a year ago because of improvements in the human rights situation in countries that had been responsible for many cases of persecution, the report said. Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union are not included in the 1990 report, and the number of incidents reported in Chile and South Africa has declined substantially.
"Human rights problems persist in these counties in varying degree," the report said, "especially in South Africa, where blacks are still denied the right to vote, the apartheid state remains largely intact, many political activists are still persecuted and there are indications that the security forces have instigated some of the 'black on black' violence that has claimed thousands of lives."
Nevertheless, the report said, an "enormous transformation" has begun "even in South Africa."
The largest number of killings of human rights monitors occurred in Guatemala, the organization said, with eight deaths and two disappearances. "That such a small country, with a population of only nine million, should earn this dubious distinction is indicative of its disastrous human rights situation," the report said.
Countries with the largest numbers of persecutions include Cuba and Turkey, the report said. In Cuba, officials have been "persecuting human rights monitors so relentlessly," the report said, that "the Cuban government has increased its international isolation . . . . "
The second largest number of monitors' deaths occurred in Colombia, where six died, the report said. But in contrast to Guatemala, where the government has abdicated responsibility, the Colombian government "is making strenuous efforts" to correct the situation, it said.