Thursday, June 03, 2004

Critiquing Amnesty International

I realize I'm of two minds about international human rights organizations. I cite them when it's useful, but often as not, I find something to criticize about their reporting.

Take the latest AI report on Guatemala. Right there in the second paragraph, they write:

It was widely believed that a major contributory factor in the upsurge in political violence and repression that characterized President Alfonso Portillo's administration (2000-2003) was the control exercised by General Efraín Ríos Montt behind the scenes.
In Spanish they translate that as "la opinión generalizada."

Since when do such amorphous ideas, stated in the passive voice, pass as legitimate human rights analysis? They might even be right about Rios Montt, but they've got to find a better way to discuss these ideas. After all, it's also "widely believed" in many parts of the world that 9/11 was a CIA plot. So what?

As far as I'm concerned, this kind of reporting doesn't pass basic social-science muster....

Grade: C-

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