US Backs Sham Democracies, Watchdog Says

Western powers allow autocrats to pay lip service to ideals
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 6:25 PM CST
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf addresses a press conference alongside British Prime Minister Gordon Brown inside 10 Downing Street in London, Monday Jan. 28, 2008. Human Rights Watch says the West...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Human Rights Watch says Western powers accept too many sham democracies out of political convenience, the BBC reports. The group's annual report slams the tendency of the US and EU governments to allow autocrats to claim “the mantle of democracy" without granting authentic political freedom. It also said the US and others undermine the global commitment to human rights by committing their own violations while fighting terrorism.

“Too many Western governments insist on elections and leave it at that," said the HRW's director. "They don't press governments on the key human rights issues that make democracy function—a free press, peaceful assembly, and a functioning civil society that can really challenge power." The report cited Pakistan, where Musharraf rewrote the constitution and sacked Supreme Court justices, as a particularly bad example. (Read more Bush administration stories.)