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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid