Human Rights Need Special Attention in Post-September 11 World

This year's International Human Rights Day has particular significance due to the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks, says Alberta Federation of Labour President Les Steel. Steel is marking the annual day by warning Albertans of attacks on civil liberties both at home and abroad.

"In the necessary fight against terrorism, it is vital we do not compromise our own civil liberties," says Steel. "But I fear in the stampede to protect security we may at times forget we are signatories to the UN Declaration on Human Rights."

"Bill C-36 and C-42 have the potential to seriously undermine our civil liberties. In our bid to catch bad guys, I am afraid we are going to tighten a noose around legitimate debate and dissent."

Steel points out that over 1,000 people are being detained without charges in the U.S. since September 11. There is no way of knowing how many are terrorists and how many are innocent people with opinions the government doesn't like. Or how many are simply being held in error.

Steel also urged world leaders to not lose sight of human rights abuses around the world. "Our search for bin Laden should not allow other abuses to accelerate simply because our attention is distracted. We must send a consistent signal to all governments that human rights must be respected."

December 10th, the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, is recognized annually as International Human Rights Day.

"December 10th is an important day. And this year it is even more important," Steel concludes.

For more information call: Les Steel, AFL President @ (780)- 483- 3021 office or  (780) 499- 4135 (cell)

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