Amnesty International warns against politics of dehumanisation

Politicians wielding a toxic and dehumanising rhetoric such as the use of “us versus them” is creating a more divided and dangerous world, Amnesty International 2016/2017 annual report has warned.

The report dubbed: “The State of the World’s Human Rights” delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights around the world, covering 159 countries.”

It warns that the consequences of “us versus them” rhetoric setting the agenda in Europe, the United States and elsewhere is fuelling a global pushback against human rights and leaving the global response to mass atrocities perilously weak.

The report warns that global solidarity and public mobilisation would be particularly important to defend individuals who stand up to those in power and defend human rights, who are often cast by governments as a threat to economic development, security or other priorities.

According to the report, 23 war crimes were committed in at least 23 countries; whereas 36 countries illegally sent refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk; while 22 countries saw people killed for peacefully standing up for their human rights.

These include; those targeted for challenging entrenched economic interest and small communities or opposing traditional barriers to women’s rights.

Mr Frank Doyi, AI Ghana Acting Director, speaking at the launch of the report in Accra on Wednesday, said: “We cannot rely on governments to protect our freedoms, and so we have to stand up ourselves. We have to come together and protect the fundamental human rights and freedom of all.

“Small acts by individuals can make a real difference as we stand up to defend human rights. But global solidarity is crucial if we are to protect each other from those governments quick to portray dissent as a threat to national security and economic development.

“I encourage everyone to join us, to stand with us to promote and protect the human rights of all,” he added.

Reacting to a call by Mr Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament that laws to ban homosexuality in the country, Mr Doyio said the Speaker’s call was dangerous.

He said it had the tendency of infringing the fundamental and universal rights of those engaged in homosexuality.

“Amnesty International recognises and appreciates the fact that human rights must be based within our cultural norms and practices,” Mr Doyi said.

“So cultural relativism is something that Amnesty International represents in what we do in terms of promoting and protecting human rights,’ he added.

On Ghana, the report raised issues with the rights of women and children, discrimination against people with disabilities, and legal shortcomings in relation to human rights protection.

It said in Ghana lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people continued to face discrimination, violence and police harassment.

The report cited a number of countries in which they was a rise and impact of poisonous national crack downs on activism and freedom of expression.

On Nigeria, the report cited the arrests and detentions, sometimes without trial of journalists and bloggers and disruption of peaceful protests, sometimes by the military.

It noted that elsewhere, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Thailand and Turkey carried out massive crackdowns; while other countries pursued intrusive security measures, such as prolonged emergency powers in France and unprecedented catastrophic surveillance laws in the United Kingdom.

Mr George Aggrey, AI Ghana Chairman, who formally launched the report, said AI was calling on people around the world to resist cynical efforts to roll back long-established human rights in exchange for the distant promise of prosperity and security.

Mrs Elizabeth Efua Essel, Acting Director, Information Services Division said the government would continue to uphold the rule of law and the fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution.

Commissioner of Police Prosper Agblor, the Director-General/Special Duties of the Ghana Police Service, lauded AI for a good work done.

He said the Police would continue to collaborate with AI in ensuring the human rights were protected in the country.

Deputy Superintendent Sylvester Rabbles, the Director of Operations, Ghana Prisons Service, said there were no tortures in Ghanaian prisons.

He recalled that the granting of amnesty by the President to over 1000 prisoners in 2016, had led to the decongesting of the country’s prisons; adding that recommendations had be made by the Prison Service to the President for amnesty to be granted to some categories of prisoners to commemorate Ghana’s 60th anniversary.

Source: GNA

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