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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid