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Launch Of Amnesty International Report 2006

Global Launch Of Amnesty International Report 2006

23 MAY 2006 – 9PM NZ TIME

Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan, will launch the Amnesty International Report 2006 from London on Tuesday 23 May 2006, at 10:00 BST (9pm NZ Time), at the Foreign Press Association.

The Amnesty International Report 2006 is a comprehensive document which provides a global overview of the state of the world's human rights. The report, which covers 150 countries, documents human rights issues of concern to Amnesty International during 2005 and reflects the organization's activities during the year to promote human rights and to campaign against specific human rights abuses.

Please note: The report and media materials, including photos, audio and video, for the launch will be available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish at http://www.amnesty.org/report2006/launchpack-eng The Report is also available from the New Zealand Campaigns office, contacts above. Video to accompany the report will be available via three playouts on the APTN Global Video Wire on 23rd May.

WORLD'S POOR AND DISADVANTAGED PAY PRICE OF 'WAR ON TERROR' AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2006

(London) 2005 was a year of contradictions in which signs of hope for human rights were undermined through the deception and failed promises of powerful governments, said Amnesty International today as it published its annual report.

Speaking at the launch of Amnesty International Report 2006, the organization's Secretary General Irene Khan said that the security agenda of the powerful and privileged had hijacked the energy and attention of the world from serious human rights crises elsewhere.

"Governments collectively and individually paralyzed international institutions and squandered public resources in pursuit of narrow security interests, sacrificed principles in the name of the "war on terror" and turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations. As a result, the world has paid a heavy price, in terms of erosion of fundamental principles and in the enormous damage done to the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people," said Ms Khan.

"Intermittent attention and feeble action by the United Nations and the African Union fell pathetically short of what was needed in Darfur," said Ms Khan, referring to a conflict that claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions, and in which war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed by all sides.

Iraq sank into a vortex of sectarian violence in 2005. Ms Khan warned: "When the powerful are too arrogant to review and reassess their strategies, the heaviest price is paid by the poor and powerless -– in this case, ordinary Iraqi women, men and children."

Israel and the Occupied Territories slipped off the international agenda in 2005, deepening the distress and despair of Palestinians and the fears of the Israeli population. The brutality and intensity of attacks by armed groups in 2005 reached new levels, taking a heavy toll on human lives.

"Terrorism by armed groups is inexcusable and unacceptable. The perpetrators must be brought to justice -– but through fair trial, not torture or secret detention. Sadly, the increasing brutality of such incidents throughout the world last year is a further bitter reminder that the 'war on terror' is failing and will continue to fail until human rights and human security are given precedence over narrow national security interests," said Ms Khan.

"But clear signs of hope wrestled with despair in 2005."

The past year saw one of the greatest mobilizations of civil society in the fight against poverty and the struggle for economic and social rights. The UN Summit, which reviewed progress on implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, showed the dismal failure of governments to match performance to promise. For instance, governments paid lip service to women's human rights but failed to fulfill international targets for equal access to education by girls.

In 2005, the call for justice scored another hit as the International Criminal Court issued its first indictments for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Uganda. The immunity of past Heads of State was dented in Latin America as Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest and an international arrest warrant was enforced against Alberto Fujimori.

Revelation after revelation exposed the extent to which European governments have been partners in crime with the United States, defying the absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment and by outsourcing torture though the transfer of prisoners to states such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Syria, which are known to practise torture.

"Just as we must condemn terrorist attacks on civilians in the strongest possible terms, we must resist claims by governments that terror can be fought with torture. Such claims are misleading, dangerous and wrong -- you cannot extinguish a fire with petrol," said Ms Khan.

"Double speak and double standards by powerful governments are dangerous because they weaken the ability of the international community to address human rights problems such as those in Darfur, Chechnya, Colombia, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and North Korea. They allow perpetrators in these and other countries to operate with impunity.

"When the UK government remains silent on arbitrary detention and ill-treatment in Guantánamo, when the United States ignores the absolute prohibition on torture, when European governments are mute about their record on renditions, racism or refugees, they undermine their own moral authority to champion human rights elsewhere in the world.

"In a year in which the UN spent much time discussing reform and membership of its key institutions, it failed to give attention to the performance of two key members -- China and Russia -- who have consistently allowed their narrow political and economic interests to prevail over human rights concerns domestically or internationally.

Key demands of Amnesty International in 2006 are: To the United Nations and African Union to address the conflict and end human rights abuses in Darfur; To the United Nations to negotiate for an Arms Trade Treaty to govern the trade of small arms so that they cannot be used to commit human rights abuses; To the US Administration to close Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and disclose the names and locations of all 'war on terror' prisoners elsewhere; To the new UN Human Rights Council, to insist on equal standards of respect of human rights from all governments, whether in Darfur or Guantánamo, Chechnya or China.

"The political and moral authority of governments will be increasingly judged on their stand on human rights at home and abroad. More than ever the world needs those countries with power and international influence -- the permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as those who aspire to such membership -- to behave with responsibility and respect for human rights. Governments must stop playing games with human rights," declared Ms Khan.


STATISTICS: COVERING JAN TO DEC 2005 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2006

Human rights abuses detailed in Amnesty International Report 2006

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT Cases of torture and other ill-treatment by security forces, police and other state authorities were reported in at least 114 countries.

EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS Confirmed or possible extrajudicial executions were carried out in at least 64 countries.

"DISAPPEARANCES" New cases of people being "disappeared" by state agents were reported in at least 22 countries. Many thousands of people also remain "disappeared" in scores of countries around the world.

PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE Confirmed or possible prisoners of conscience were held in at least 67 countries.

DETENTION WITHOUT CHARGE OR TRIAL People were detained without charge or trial in at least 76 countries.

DETAINEES HELD UNDER ANTI-TERROR LEGISLATION Detainees were held without trial in response to the "war on terror" in at least 28 countries.

DEATH PENALTY Judicial executions were carried out in at least 22 countries. Death sentences are known to have been imposed in at least 51 countries.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY ARMED OPPOSITION GROUPS Armed groups are reported to have carried out attacks on civilians in at least 33 countries. Armed groups have reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated prisoners in at least 21 countries. Armed groups have reportedly taken people hostage in at least 28 countries.

NOTE: These statistics cannot tell the whole story of all the human rights abuses committed across the world in 2005 and do not amount to an exhaustive list. They are representative of Amnesty International's programme of research, and only cover the 150 countries included in the Amnesty International Report 2006.

FACTS AND FIGURES: The state of the world's human rights AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2006

NB: Figures as of 23 May 2006, unless otherwise indicated.

HOPE Remarkable progress on the abolition of the death penalty showed the potential for public pressure to bring about change.

DEATH PENALTY By 2005, 122 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice In 1977, the year when the USA resumed the use of the death penalty and AI convened a groundbreaking International Conference on the Death Penalty, only 16 countries were abolitionist. 1…. Country known to AI that still executed juvenile offenders in 2005.

HYPOCRISY In 2005, the US Administration acknowledged the use of "renditions". Rendition is the practice of transporting persons forcibly and without due process from one country to another where they risk being interrogated under torture or ill-treatment. Renditions are illegal under international treaties to which all European governments are party. 2005... year in which evidence was made public of involvement of European governments in US-led renditions. 1000... approximate number of secret flights directly linked to the CIA that used European airspace between 2001 and 2005, some of which may have carried prisoners. 100s... estimated number of persons who may have been subject to renditions around the world. 6... number of European countries implicated in the rendition of 14 individuals to countries where they were tortured. 1... number of European countries that has issued arrest warrants for CIA agents suspected of kidnapping prisoners for rendition.

DUPLICITY Governments championed human rights on the one hand, and undermined them on the other. TORTURE 141… countries party to the UN Convention against torture and other ill-treatment. 104… countries out of the 150 countries in AI's 2006 report that have tortured or ill-treated people.

PARALYSIS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY The conflict in Darfur has been described as staggering in scale and harrowing in nature. Urgent action is needed by the United Nations and the African Union to protect civilians in Darfur. ARMED CONFLICT 2.2 million… number of refugees and people displaced by the conflict. 285,000…estimated number of deaths from starvation, disease and killings in Darfur since 2003. 7,000… number of African Union monitors deployed in Darfur. 13…number of UN Security Council resolutions adopted on Darfur. Zero…number of United Nations peacekeepers deployed in Darfur.

FAILED PROMISES At the Millennium Summit in 2000, the world's leaders set clear targets to solve some of the most vexing global social problems. But, they failed to turn their promises into performance. Governments promised to achieve universal primary education by 2015. 100 million+… number of children who remain out of school. 300,000… estimated number of child soldiers. 46%… number of girls in the world's poorest countries with no access to primary education.

TORTURE & TERROR Thousands of people have been detained without charge or trial, tortured and ill-treated in the name of counter-terrorism. 1592…number of days since the USA opened the Guantánamo Bay prison camp for 'war on terror' suspects on 11 January 2002. 759…total number of people who have been detained at Guantánamo Bay. 13… age of Mohammed Ismail Agha when taken into US custody in Afghanistan in late 2002 before later being transferred to Guantanamo. 0…the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay who have been convicted of a criminal offence.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN >From birth to death, in times of peace as well as war, women face discrimination and violence at the hands of the state, the community and the family. 2 million girls…at risk of female genital mutilation each year. Only 9 countries have specific legislation outlawing female genital mutilation. 25 % … of women experience sexual abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 79 countries have no legislation against domestic violence. 5.3 % …of rapes reported in England and Wales in 2003 resulted in a conviction. Unknown: the total number of women raped in conflict. Rape is commonly used as a weapon of war. Establishing exact figures is difficult due to insecurity, logistics, fear of stigmatisation and risk of reprisal against women who report rape.

CONTROL ARMS The proliferation of small arms is fuelling conflict, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide. 2…bullets for every person on the planet and one gun for every ten. 1000… average number of people killed every day by small arms. 1 to 10… for every $1 spent on development assistance $10 is spent on military budgets. 88%… reported conventional arms exports are from the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, UK and USA.

Notes: All sources of data are from Amnesty International, except as noted below. Parties to the Convention against Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/english/countries/ratification/9.htm Refugees & conflict-related deaths: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/template?page=publ&src=static/sowr2006/toceng.htm African Union Monitors: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/HMYT-6PXQDU?OpenDocument United Nations Security Council Resolutions: http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/ Children & education: http://www.unicef.org/sowc06/fullreport/full_report.php Violence against women: http://www.unifem.org/ and 'A gap or a chasm: attrition in reported rape cases' at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf#search='a%20gap%20or%20a%20chasm'

ENDS

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