Amnesty International Report 2016/17: The State of the World’s Human Rights

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I know I am a little late with this, I haven’t really had the time in the past weeks since the report came out, yet I really wanted to reflect on it.

Amnesty International’s Report on the State of the World’s Human Rights provides a very detailed account on human rights in the examined 159 countries of the world.

The overall conclusion is that 2016 saw a huge decline in human rights. This is true for armed conflicts all over the world, for the treatment of refugees fleeing said armed conflicts, but also true for the spreading of dangerous ideologies, perhaps not causing immediate harm, but highly alarming nonetheless.

“For millions, 2016 was a year of unrelenting misery and fear, as governments and armed groups abused human rights in a multitude of ways. Large parts of Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, were pounded to dust by air strikes and street battles, while the cruel onslaught against civilians in Yemen continued. From the worsening plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar to mass unlawful killings in South Sudan, from the vicious crackdowns on dissenting voices in Turkey and Bahrain to the rise of hate speech across large parts of Europe and the USA, the world in 2016 became a darker and more unstable place.”

In Africa, besides the known armed conflicts, the number of peaceful protests and the spread of social media campaigns were remarkable these past years. There are many causes for hope proving that repressive leaders cannot always get away with anything anymore, but unfortunately wars, human rights violations, displacement, corruption, diseases and poverty still define a huge part of the continent.

The state of human rights in the Americas as a region is portrayed by the level of violence in certain states – which is remarkably the highest in the world in parts of this region – as much as by the treatment of indigenous peoples and by the election of a president with a “discriminatory, misogynist and xenophobic” rethoric in the most influential country of the world.

The Asia-Pacific Region covers many long lasting conflicts, like India-Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar. But recent human rights violations in the Philippines and the well known conditions in North Korea or China are also constitute to the overall state of this region.

Europe and Central Asia consists of Europe as we know it, Russia and the post soviet states. The latters of course always lagged behind in terms of human rights, but the past few years saw a huge decline all over Europe. The main issue that causes concern is the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, that in many cases have been constitutionalized by laws. The spreading of exclusionary politics in general is concerning, when unfortunately in some states – most notably, Hungary – representatives of such politics managed to get and stay in power.

Yet, of course some of the worst conditions are continuously in the Middle East and North Africa region that contains Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen. In parts of this region there is no institutionalized leadership to speak of, no wonder human rights also remains no more than an expression.

All in all, the prospects are not good. It does seem like the world is heading backwards in terms of human rights, and we, the ordinary people need to stay informed to be able to do something if we want to see change.

“Everyone can take a stand against dehumanization, acting locally to recognize the dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all, and thus lay the foundations of freedom and justice in the world. 2017 needs human rights heroes.”

The report is available in several languages, I definitely recommend checking it out – perhaps not all 409 pages, but the overviews (regional and overall) will really worth your time. Also, your own country’s state of human rights and where it stands in the world is always good to be aware of. It is an important read altogether.

Read the report here.

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