Tuesday, 25 January 2011 00:00 By Francis Obinor (with agency report) News - World
THE Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused political leaders across the globe of turning a blind eye to abuses by repressive regimes in their pursuit for democracies and opting for improved relations rather than condemning rights violations and curtailing aid.
In the 648-page yearly review report released yesterday, the group also documented numerous human rights abuses in Western nations themselves, such as the widespread and institutionalised discrimination in European Union countries against members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority.
HRW decried the increasing use of dialogue and cooperation to urge reforms and lack of teeth to ensure that change occurs. It pointed out that many democracies are abandoning political pressure, accepting instead the rationalisation of authoritarian governments.
The report praised the Norwegian Nobel committee for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, despite China’s displeasure but slammed the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
“The use of dialogue and cooperation in lieu of pressure has emerged with a vengeance at the United Nations, from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to many members of the Human Rights Council,” the group said. It criticized as an example “the United Nations’ deferential attitude toward Sri Lankan wartime atrocities.”
The United States was singled out for its failure to prosecute those suspected of involvement in torture – which is banned under international law.
The HRW commended the (U.S.) President Barack Obama on his effort at defending democracy across the globe but said “his famed eloquence has sometimes eluded him when it comes to defending human rights.”
This, according to the group, was especially noticeable in contacts with countries that are important to U.S. interests, such as China, India, Indonesia, Egypt and Bahrain.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that senior Bush administration officials approved illegal interrogation methods involving torture and other ill-treatment, the Obama administration has yet to pursue prosecutions of any high-level officials or to establish a commission of inquiry,” the report said.
In a statement accompanying the report, Kenneth Roth said: “Dialogue and cooperation have their place, but the burden should be on the abusive government to show a genuine willingness to improve. In the absence of the demonstrated political will by abusive governments to make change, governments of good will need to apply pressure to end repression.” Read more...