News / Africa

Amnesty International Releases Annual Report on Human Rights

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis (file photo)
Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Joe De Capua interview with Amnesty's Erwin van der Borght on Africa

Amnesty International says in its latest annual report that recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa show that freedom of expression lies at the heart of human rights.

2010 ended with a public uprising in Tunisia that forced that country’s longtime leader from power.  Then in the new year, similar public demonstrations prompted Egypt's autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down.

The rights group says in its annual report that freedom of expression is a powerful tool for change.  

Amnesty Middle East expert Philip Luther says the events in Egypt and Tunisia show the power of the people, whatever their background. 



“The people who have been taking to the streets have been a wide variety of people from across different divides.  They have included some of the most marginalized in society.  They have included women and they have included people of very different and varied political persuasions,” Luthar said.

More uprisings followed the events in Egypt and Tunisia, but not with the same outcomes.

In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi still rules, despite open rebellion in parts of the country and NATO air strikes against his forces.

Erwin van der Borght is Amnesty's International Propgram Director. To hear his interview with VOA's Joe De Capua on human rights in Africa, click below.

In China, authorities cracked down hard against possible unrest inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East.

Amnesty International's Tawanda Hondora says it is the same story in a number of sub-Saharan African countries.

"We see for example the situation in Uganda where the opposition is trying to demonstrate and orchestrate uprisings that are similar to what is happening in North Africa.  We also see similar situations happening in countries like Swaziland where there have been demonstrations, as well as Zimbabwe where there were demonstrations, but those were brutally suppressed as they were in Uganda," Hondora said.

Hondora says civil and political rights are under threat.

In Ivory Coast, violence after that country's disputed presidential election in November left hundreds dead and displaced an estimate one-million people.  The violence stemmed from former President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to election winner Alassane Ouattara.

Elsewhere in Africa, a Nigerian civil rights group says at least 500 people died in election violence last month between Muslims and Christians.

Hondora says politicians are not doing enough to rein in their supporters. "The major problem in sub-Saharan Africa is that many governments are brutally suppressing protests that are being undertaken by the citizens and this is a violation of the constitution, it is also in violation of the African charter on Human and People’s Rights, where people have a right to demonstrate, where they have a right to express their views," Hondora said.

Amnesty says 2010 was not all bad news.

The group says authorities in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya halted forced evictions after a public outcry.  And in Europe, Amnesty cites progress in bringing to justice those responsible for crimes in the former Yugoslavia in  the 1990s.  

Amnesty also notes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma.  The Nobel Peace Prize winner spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest.  But Amnesty says thousands of other political prisoners are still held there.

Luther says freedom of expression is the key to solving injustice. “There has been no clearer signal of the importance of freedom of expression than in the Middle East and North Africa where people have been rising up at the end of 2010 and then very much into 2011 to demand the right to freedom of expression, which is such a cornerstone right and which allows people to access all other rights because it allows them to demand them,” Luther said.

When free speech is respected, says Luther, people can bring about social and economic change as well as political revolution.

Amnesty’s annual report says there are unlawful restrictions on freedom of expression in 89 countries around the world.

It says torture and other ill-treatment were used in 98 countries in 2010 and the organization investigated unfair trials in 54 countries.


View Amnesty International Report 2011 in a larger map

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs