News

    Human Rights Focus of OAS Talks

    Human rights concerns were the focus of talks on the final day of a meeting of the Organization of American States. Some human rights groups say the OAS should do more to address terrorist threats, racism and violence against women. There is also concern that a funding shortfall at the OAS may threaten its human rights activities.

    OAS delegates gathered on the third and final day of the General Assembly for an assessment of human rights conditions in the Americas. The president of the group's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Evelio Fernandez, noted several improvements in the region, including measures to prevent violence against women in Jamaica and Chile. And he praised Honduras and Colombia for ratifying a treaty to combat political killings.

    But Fernandez told delegates there is still much room for improvement.

    He says there are still serious obstacles to human rights in the hemisphere, especially because of weak legal systems in several countries. He adds that poor living conditions prevent residents of many nations from enjoying their social and economic rights. Fernandez also noted ongoing violence by leftist rebels in Colombia, lack of security in Haiti and the jailing of political dissidents in Cuba.

    The United States Ambassador to OAS, John Maisto, took note of conditions in Cuba, such as as continued restrictions on freedom of expression and failures in the justice system.

    "For 47 years, the people of Cuba have lived under a dictatorship that has shown time and again that beneath its rhetoric there is no respect for the fundamental rights of the individual," said John Maisto.

    Maisto also drew comparisons between Cuba and the current government in Venezuela, which frequently has been at odds with Washington. He criticized Caracas for failing to respond to a request from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit the country.

    Commission president Fernandez also called on Venezuela to respond to its request. And he expressed concern that the goal of human rights protection is being threatened by a lack of funding from the OAS.

    Fernandez says with a staff of only 17 lawyers, the commission cannot fulfill its mandate to investigate cases, complete reports and visit countries throughout the region.

    OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza told delegates that funding problems remain a concern, and officials are studying a possible increase in dues from member states to avoid cuts in OAS activities.

    Human rights groups at the OAS meeting have already accused the organization of failing to address their concerns. And Sergio Widder, Latin America representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told VOA that possible financial cuts are a serious worry.

    He said funding for the commission should not be cut, because its human rights activities are the final guarantee for protections of civil rights and human rights.

    Widder said his group was calling on the Organization of American States to create a list of terrorist groups for the Americas, and said the Palestinian group Hamas should be included. He said Venezuela's government has invited Hamas members to visit the South American nation.

    He said allowing terrorist group members into Latin America is a threat, and should be opposed before it's too late, especially following terrorist attacks in Argentina, such as the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994.

    The final task for delegates from the 34 nations of the OAS was the signing of a declaration in support of expanding technology and communication systems across the region. The next General Assembly is set to take place in Panama next year.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.