News / Middle East

Rights Group: Arab Spring Movements Fall Short

A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
x
A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 27, 2013.
Anita Powell
Representatives of international watchdog Human Rights Watch say in their annual report that they're concerned about Syria, Mali and other areas of so-called Arab Spring unrest. The New York-based group released its report Thursday in London and Johannesburg.

Human Rights Watch says the euphoria and hope that spurred the Arab Spring movements two years ago have not brought about more rights for the people.
 
The 665-page report released Thursday profiles human rights in more than 80 nations, including the United States.

Syria's violence and repression dominated this year's report. The nation has been besieged by a rebellion that has left at least 60,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates.

Rampant war crimes

Human Rights Watch's executive director Kenneth Roth, speaking on a live telecast from London, called on Russia and China to impose stricter sanctions on Syria in an attempt to further pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

But the watchdog group also says both sides - the government and the opposition - have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as torture and executions.

Johannesburg-based spokeswoman Birgit Schwarz called for international measures.

"Our major concern about Syria is really that there's not enough pressure put on the Syrian government - and the Syrian rebels - at this point to stem the atrocities," said Schwarz. "The best way, really, to ensure that there will be accountability at some point would be a referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court. This is not a biased move because it would really mean that both sides, rebels as well as government forces, eventually would have to fear to be accountable."

Roth is critical of Egypt, saying the new Egyptian constitution is "filled with loopholes" that deprive citizens of their rights, and called for a strengthening of rights and free speech.

The group also expressed concern that Islamist-dominated governments in Arab Spring nations may restrict women’s rights.

Concerns over Africa

Tiseke Kasambala, advocacy director of the Africa Division, said Africa's rights landscape continues to worry them, too.

"The year 2012 witnessed some backsliding on democracy and improvement in human rights, the menace of terrorism in Nigeria, Somalia and Kenya, as well as increased national and regional tensions. Countries that continued to make important economic developments and strides, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, continued also to impose tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association," said Kasambala.

Kasambala said Mali is of particular concern after a coup and a rebellion in 2012. French and Malian troops are currently trying to push back rebels in northern Mali.

"New or ongoing crises in Mali, Sudan and South Sudan, continued war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as longstanding repression in countries such as Ethiopia, as mentioned before, Eritrea, Sudan and Sim continued to undermine progress toward respect for human rights and the rule of law across the continent," said Kasambala.
 
In addition, the group is concerned about the potential for violence in elections scheduled for this year in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs