Amnesty comments on the state of the world’s human rights

Amnesty International has released its annual report documenting the state of human rights. The state of the world’s human rights, was released this month and consists of five regional overviews and a country-by-country survey of 155 individual countries and territories. Specific human rights issues documented in the report include restrictions on free speech in at least 91 countries as well as cases of people tortured or otherwise ill-treated in at least 101 countries – in many cases for taking part in demonstrations. It also establishes evidence of a number of concerning trends including worsening discrimination in Africa over people’s sexual orientation or gender identity, increased xenophobic rhetoric from some European politicians, and growing abuses against Indigenous communities in the Americas resulting from the intensifying drive to exploit resources.

The UN Security Council was criticised for appearing “redundant as a guardian of global peace” by its failure to intervene in Sri Lanka and the inaction over crimes against humanity in Syria – one of Russia’s main customers of arms.

"There is a clear and compelling case for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes against humanity. The determination of some UN Security Council members to shield Syria at any cost leaves accountability for these crimes elusive and is a betrayal of the Syrian people," said Amnesty International’s National Director, Claire Mallison.

Some of the report’s heaviest criticism centred on allegations of torture and unnecessary use of excessive force by the Indonesian military, especially in the restive provinces of Papua and Maluku. In January 2011 Amnesty International lodged a request seeking access to Papua but is still yet to receive a response from the Indonesian Government. At this stage, foreign journalists and non-government organisations are effectively banned from entering the province.

In February 2011, a reported incident in Indonesia documenting brutal human rights violations saw three members of the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim sect be stoned to death in a village in West Java by a rampaging mob of 1500 people. According to Amnesty, in many of these cases the police failed to protect religious and other minority groups from such attacks.

As Amnesty International moves into its sixth decade as a one of the world’s leading human rights bodies, this timely report bears witness not only to the difficulties faced by those living in the shadow of human rights violations, but also to those who continue to be inspired to take action by the principle of human dignity.