News / USA

Amnesty: Powerful Governments 'Stand Above the Law' on Human Rights

Amnesty International has released its 2010 report on global human rights abuses. It says on the whole it has been a landmark year for international justice - but barriers to justice have been built by powerful governments who shield allies and only act when it is politically expedient. Amnesty also says poverty and repression remain major problems around the world.

Speaking in London as Amnesty launched its report, interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone told VOA that international justice has moved forward. He says a number of landmark convictions have shown that impunity is on the wane.

"We're very encouraged by the trend for example in Latin America where we had three former heads of states brought to justice from Peru, Uruguay and Argentina," said Cordone.

But he also says powerful governments are limiting progress in international justice by acting only when it is politically expedient.

"We still see governments who hold themselves above the law, for example by not accepting the jurisdiction of the international criminal court," he said. "Among those are seven of the G20 countries. And also, we see governments shielding their political allies from international scrutiny."

The United States, China, and Russia are three of the seven countries that so far have not signed up to the International Criminal Court, or ICC.

Cordone says when the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir in 2009 it was a breakthrough. It showed, he says, that even sitting heads of state are not above the law.

But the African Union has not cooperated with the warrant - and this, he says, shows how governments are guilty of putting politics before justice.

Cordone says repression remains a major problem around the world. He spoke about the repression seen in Iran following the disputed outcome of the presidential election.

"People have been arbitrarily arrested; have been tortured even the government had to acknowledge that actually women were raped in custody," said Cordone. "We've had death sentences being passed and we've seen the violence in the streets against demonstrators and the situation is still dire for anyone who is a critic that opposes the government or that just wants to carry out proper human rights work."

Amnesty International's report found torture or other ill-treatment in over 100 countries, unfair trials in over fifty, and restrictions on free speech in almost 100 countries.

It says women and migrants remain particular targets of human rights abuses. And xenophobia has risen sharply in Europe.

Widney Brown, Amnesty's Senior Director of International Law and Policy, told VOA that human rights violations are driving and deepening poverty, especially in Africa.

"In Africa, where it's a very resource rich continent, and you have many companies including multi-national corporations and some government-owned, for instance from China, who are going in and extracting the natural resources often with devastating human rights consequences for the people living in the country or the area where the mining is being done," said Brown.

She says massed forced evictions across Africa and especially in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, are driving people further into poverty.

The Amnesty report documents human rights abuses in 159 countries.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid