Amnesty International's report 2008: State of the World's Human Rights, published today, shows that 60 years of human rights have failed. The NGO challenged governments to apologise
On the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International publishes its 2008 Report on the state of the world?s human rights. And the conclusions don?t look good. The organization?s annual global assessment of human rights covers 150 countries and, this year, has found that: ?Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today?.
?Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance?, said Irene Khan, Secretary General of human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) that has today challenged world leaders to apologize for six decades of human rights failure and re-commit themselves to deliver concrete improvements. ?The human rights flashpoints in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Gaza, Iraq and Myanmar demand immediate action,? added Khan.
Amnesty International?s Report for 2008, shows that sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.
Some of the most striking images of 2007 were of monks in Myanmar, lawyers in Pakistan, and women activists in Iran. ?2007 was characterised by the impotence of Western governments and the ambivalence or reluctance of emerging powers to tackle some of the world?s worst human rights crises, ranging from entrenched conflicts to growing inequalities which are leaving millions of people behind,? explained Khan. But this year?s report shows that the world still lacks a shared vision and collective leadership, and that 2008 has been characterised by pervasive violence against women, torture of civilians, suppression of dissent and the evasion of corporate accountability for human rights abuses.
At the same time, Khan states that 2008 presents an ?unprecedented opportunity? for new leaders to set a new direction and reject the ?myopic policies and practices? that in recent years have made the world a more dangerous and divided place.
The most powerful to lead
Amnesty International challenged governments to set a new paradigm for collective leadership based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, calling on the most powerful to lead by example.
- China must live up to the human rights promises it made around the Olympic Games and allow free speech and freedom of the press and end ?re-education through labour?.
- The USA must close Guantánamo detention camp and secret detention centres, prosecute the detainees under fair trial standards or release them, and unequivocally reject the use of torture and ill-treatment.
- Russia must show greater tolerance for political dissent, and none for impunity on human rights abuses in Chechnya.
- The EU must investigate the complicity of its member states in ?renditions? of terrorist suspects and set the same bar on human rights for its own members as it does for other countries.
AI?s General Secretary warned that: ?World leaders are in a state of denial but their failure to act has a high cost. As Iraq and Afghanistan show, human rights problems are not isolated tragedies, but are like viruses that can infect and spread rapidly, endangering all of us.?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on 10 December 1948. Today, AI is calling on governments to show the same degree of vision, courage and commitment that led the United Nations to adopt the Declaration sixty years ago.