Amnesty International has warned that the International protection of human rights is in danger of unraveling a short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns that will lead to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights. It stated this as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in…
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Amnesty International has warned that the International protection of human rights is in danger of unraveling a short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns that will lead to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights.

It stated this as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world.

“Your rights are in jeopardy; they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary- General of Amnesty International in a press statement.

This was made known following the release of Amnesty’s Annual Report for 2015 to 2016.

“Millions of people are suffering enormously at the hands of states and armed groups, while governments are shamelessly painting the protection of human rights as a threat to security, law and order or national values.”

Amnesty International warned of an insidious and creeping trend undermining human rights which has come from governments deliberately attacking, under-funding or neglecting institutions that have been set up to help protect our rights.

“Not only are our rights under threat, so are the laws and the system that protect them. More than 70 years of hard work and human progress lies at risk,” said Shetty.

The UN’s human rights bodies, the International Criminal Court, and regional mechanisms such as the Council of Europe and the Inter American Human Rights system, are being undermined by governments attempting to evade oversight of their domestic records.

Amnesty International called on governments to politically support and fully fund systems that exist to uphold international law and to protect people’s rights.

Amnesty International says it has documented how many governments have brazenly broken international law in 2015 in their national contexts.
Saying, “more than 122 states tortured or otherwise ill-treated people and 30 or more illegally forced refugees to return to countries where they would be in danger’’.

In at least 19 countries, war crimes or other violations of the laws of war were committed by governments or armed groups.

According to the statement, Amnesty International is also warning of a worrying trend among governments increasingly targeting and attacking activists, lawyers and others who work to defend human rights.

“Instead of recognising the crucial role these people play in society, many governments have deliberately set out to strangle criticism in their country.
They have broken their own laws in their crackdowns against citizens,” Shetty said.

The human rights watchdog says this has partly been down to the reaction of many governments to evolving security threats in 2015.

“The misguided reaction of many governments to national security threats has been the crushing of civil society, the right to privacy and the right to free speech; and outright attempts to make human rights dirty words;

“Packaging them in opposition to national security, law and order and national values.
“Governments have even broken their own laws in this way,” Shetty said.

The report says that the UN and its offices for protecting human rights and refugees, have suffered severely from the hostility and neglect of recalcitrant governments in 2015.

“The UN was set up to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights but it is more vulnerable than it ever has been in the face of enormous challenges,” Shetty said.

The report also notes that many governments have willfully thwarted UN action to prevent mass atrocities or hold to account their perpetrators, and rejected or poured scorn on its commendations to improve human rights nationally.

It says the Syrian conflict is one horrific example of the catastrophic human consequences of a systemic failure of the UN to fulfill its vital role in upholding rights and international law and ensuring accountability.

The incoming UN Secretary- General, who will be elected later this year and who will take up the post in January 2017, will inherit an organisation that has achieved much but is in desperate need of re-invigoration, according to the report.

Amnesty called for UN member of states and the UN Security Council to show brave new thinking in moving towards reform, starting with the process by which it elects a new Secretary General.

“UN member states have an historic opportunity this year to re-invigorate the organisation by supporting a strong candidate for Secretary -General with the commitment, personal fortitude and vision needed to push back against any states bent on undermining human rights at home and internationally,” Shetty said.

To achieve this, Amnesty International says the election process must be fair and transparent and ensure that the views of candidates on the major human rights challenges facing the UN are known and understood.

“The world today is facing many challenges which, at their source, have been created or prolonged by governments who have played politics with people’s lives.

“Refugees are suffering in their millions as conflicts proliferate, and armed groups deliberately attack civilians and commit other grave abuses,” Shetty said.

The report said, “it is within world leaders’ power to prevent these crises from spiraling further out of control.
Governments must halt their assault on our rights and strengthen the defences the world has put in place to protect them.

“Human rights are a necessity, not an accessory; and the stakes for humankind have never been higher,’’ it said. (PANA/NAN)

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