Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

24 May 2012

Report 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice

Report 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice
Courage shown by protesters over the past year has been matched by a failure of leadership globally.

Courage shown by protesters over the past year has been matched by a failure of leadership globally.

© REUTERS/Handout


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Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful.
Source: 
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
Date: 
Thu, 24/05/2012

Strong Arms Trade Treaty needed as UN Security Council looks unfit for purpose

The courage shown by protesters in the past 12 months has been matched by a failure of leadership that makes the UN Security Council seem tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose, Amnesty International said as it launched its 50th global human rights report with a call for a strong global Arms Trade Treaty later this year.

“Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General.

The vocal and enthusiastic support for the protest movements shown by many global and regional powers in the early months of 2011, has not translated into action. As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, it looks increasingly as if the opportunities for change created by the protesters are being squandered.

“In the last year it has all too often become clear that opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Salil Shetty.

“The language of human rights is adopted when it serves political or corporate agendas, and shelved
when inconvenient or standing in the way of profit.”

A failure to intervene in Sri Lanka and inaction over crimes against humanity in Syria – one of Russia’s main customers for arms – left the UN Security Council looking redundant as a guardian of global peace. The emerging powerhouses of India, Brazil and South Africa have too often been complicit through their silence.

“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 Salil Shetty.

Amnesty International Report 2012 documents specific 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.

“Ousting individual leaders – however tyrannical – is not enough to deliver long-term change. Governments must uphold freedom of expression at home and abroad, take international responsibilities seriously, and invest in systems and structures that ensure justice, freedom and equality before the law.”

The UN meeting to agree an Arms Trade Treaty in July will be an acid test for politicians to place rights over self-interest and profit. Without a strong treaty, the UN Security Council’s guardianship of global peace and security seems doomed to failure; its permanent members wielding an absolute veto on any resolution despite being the world’s largest arms suppliers.

“Protesters have shown that change is possible. They have thrown down a gauntlet demanding that governments stand up for justice, equality and dignity. They have shown that leaders who don’t meet these expectations will no longer be accepted. After an inauspicious start 2012 must become the year of action,” said Salil Shetty.

Other global developments highlighted in Amnesty International Report 2012:

  • Highly repressive states including China threw the full weight of their security apparatus into the suffocation of protest. There was no improvement in North Korea’s horrific human rights situation.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa uprisings resonated strongly with people – but excessive force was used against protesters in countries from Angola to Senegal to Uganda.
  • Social protest gathered strength in the Americas, frequently bringing people into confrontation with powerful economic and political interests. Activists were threatened and killed, including in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
  • In Russia, civic activism grew and the country saw its largest demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but opposition voices were abused and systematically undermined.
  • There was no sign of significant change in countries such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest host, Azerbaijan, suppressed freedom of expression and 16 prisoners of conscience are still behind bars for raising their voices in 2011.
  • Violence followed South Sudan’s vote for independence but the UN Security Council – along with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council – again failed to condemn abuses including indiscriminate bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces, or the Sudanese government’s closure of affected states to humanitarian organizations.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, as the uprisings occupied world attention, other deep-seated problems festered. Iran’s government was increasingly isolated, tolerated no dissent, and used the death penalty with an enthusiasm only outstripped by China, while Saudi Arabia cracked down on protesters.
  • Israel maintained its blockade of Gaza, prolonging the humanitarian crisis and continued to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian political organizations Fatah and Hamas targeted each other’s supporters; Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups mounted tit-for-tat attacks in Gaza.
  • Myanmar's government took a pivotal decision to free more than 300 political prisoners and allow Aung San Suu Kyi to contest elections. An escalation of conflict-related human rights violations in ethnic minority areas, as well as continuing harassment and detention of activists, however, suggested limits to the reform.
  • Trends included abuses against Indigenous communities in the Americas as drives to exploit resources intensified; worsening discrimination in Africa over people’s sexual orientation or gender identity; increased xenophobic rhetoric from some European politicians; and increased vulnerability to terrorist acts in Africa by Islamist armed groups.
  • Progress including the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty; the erosion of impunity for past abuses in the Americas; and landmark steps towards justice in Europe with the arrests of General Ratko Mladić and Croatian Serb Goran Hadžić, to face trial for crimes committed in the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia.

Campaigns

Abolish the death penalty  
Arms control and human rights 
Security with Human Rights 
Demand Dignity 
International Justice 
Stop Violence Against Women 

Issue

Activists 
AI@50 
Armed Conflict 
Armed Groups 
Business And Human Rights 
Children 
Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes 
Death In Custody 
Death Penalty 
Demand Dignity 
Detention 
Disappearances And Abductions 
Discrimination 
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 
Extrajudicial Executions And Other Unlawful Killings 
Freedom Of Expression 
Human Rights Standards 
Impunity 
Indigenous peoples 
Individuals at Risk 
International Justice 
International Organizations 
Law Enforcement 
Medical And Health 
MENA unrest 
Military, Security And Police Equipment 
Poverty 
Prison Conditions 
Prisoners Of Conscience 
Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 
Torture And Ill-treatment 
Trials And Legal Systems 
United Nations 
Women 

Country

Afghanistan 
Albania 
Algeria 
American Samoa 
Andorra 
Angola 
Anguilla 
Antigua & Barbuda 
Antilles 
Argentina 
Armenia 
Australia 
Austria 
Azerbaijan 
Bahamas 
Bahrain 
Bangladesh 
Barbados 
Belarus 
Belgium 
Belize 
Benin 
Bermuda 
Bhutan 
Bolivia 
Bosnia-Herzegovina 
Botswana 
Brazil 
Brunei Darussalam 
Bulgaria 
Burkina Faso 
Burundi 
Cambodia 
Cameroon 
Canada 
Cape Verde 
Cayman Islands 
Central African Republic 
Chad 
Chile 
China 
Colombia 
Comoros 
Congo 
Cook Islands 
Costa Rica 
Cote D'ivoire 
Croatia 
Cuba 
Cyprus 
Czech Republic 
Democratic Republic Of Congo 
Denmark 
Djibouti 
Dominica 
Dominican Republic 
Ecuador 
Egypt 
El Salvador 
Equatorial Guinea 
Eritrea 
Estonia 
Ethiopia 
Falkland Islands 
Faroe Islands 
Fiji 
Finland 
France 
French Guiana 
French Polynesia 
Gabon 
Gambia 
Georgia 
Germany 
Ghana 
Gibraltar 
Greece 
Greenland 
Grenada 
Guadeloupe 
Guam 
Guatemala 
Guinea 
Guinea-bissau 
Guyana 
Haiti 
Honduras 
Hong Kong 
Hungary 
Iceland 
India 
Indonesia 
Iran 
Iraq 
Ireland 
Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 
Italy 
Jamaica 
Japan 
Jordan 
Kazakstan 
Kenya 
Kiribati 
Kuwait 
Kyrgyzstan 
Laos 
Latvia 
Lebanon 
Lesotho 
Liberia 
Libya 
Liechtenstein 
Lithuania 
Luxembourg 
Macao 
Macedonia 
Madagascar 
Malawi 
Malaysia 
Maldives 
Mali 
Malta 
Marshall Islands 
Martinique 
Mauritania 
Mauritius 
Mexico 
Micronesia 
Moldova 
Monaco 
Mongolia 
Montenegro 
Montserrat 
Morocco 
Mozambique 
Myanmar 
Namibia 
Nauru 
Nepal 
Netherlands 
New Caledonia 
New Zealand 
Nicaragua 
Niger 
Nigeria 
Niue 
North Korea 
Norway 
Oman 
Pakistan 
Palau 
Palestinian Authority 
Panama 
Papua New Guinea 
Paraguay 
Peru 
Philippines 
Pitcairn Islands 
Poland 
Portugal 
Puerto Rico 
Qatar 
Reunion 
Romania 
Russian Federation 
Rwanda 
Samoa 
San Marino 
Sao Tome And Principe 
Saudi Arabia 
Senegal 
Serbia 
Seychelles 
Sierra Leone 
Singapore 
Slovak Republic 
Slovenia 
Solomon Islands 
Somalia 
South Africa 
South Korea 
South Sudan 
Spain 
Sri Lanka 
St Kitts-nevis 
St Lucia 
St Vincent 
Sudan 
Suriname 
Swaziland 
Sweden 
Switzerland 
Syria 
Taiwan 
Tajikistan 
Tanzania 
Thailand 
Timor Leste 
Togo 
Tonga 
Trinidad & Tobago 
Tunisia 
Turkey 
Turkmenistan 
Turks & Caicos Islands 
Tuvalu 
UAE 
Uganda 
UK 
Ukraine 
Uruguay 
USA 
Uzbekistan 
Vanuatu 
Vatican 
Venezuela 
Viet Nam 
Virgin Islands (UK) 
Virgin Islands (US) 
Yemen 
Zambia 
Zimbabwe 

Region

Africa 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia And The Pacific 
Europe And Central Asia 
Middle East And North Africa 

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