The organisation said Arab states and the US, show a ‘disturbing disregard for the rule of law and fundamental human rights standards’, as they use the war as a cover for repression. It said hundreds of people have been detained during crackdowns on Islamic militants, justified by the war on terror.

The report refers to the experiences of detainees and their relatives, who are often given little or no information about the whereabouts or wellbeing of their relatives and are denied access to visit them.

Amnesty says the US, particularly at its detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has kept people without charges or access to a lawyer, ill-treated them and denied them visits or correspondence with their families.

The impact of Guantanamo Bay is particularly felt in the region, it said, because more than a third of inmates came from the Arab world. According to Amnesty, only Kuwait has been allowed to send a delegation to the prison.

The report quotes Yemen’s Minister for Human Rights, Amat al-Aleem al-Suswa, as saying: ‘We are unable to do anything for the families of the detainees – it is all confusion and no-one seems to know where it starts or where it ends.’

The report said: ‘Amnesty International has been calling on the US and other countries holding detainees in the context of the ‘War on Terror’ to bring their detention within the rule of law. Under international law, these detainees must be given immediate access to lawyers, allowed to contact their family and to challenge the legality of their detention. None of these safeguards have been provided by any of the detaining countries’.