Thursday, 10 December 2009

Today is Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “Discrimination is outlawed by international treaties. But abstract commitments are not enough. We must confront inequality and intolerance wherever they are found.”

UN Calls for End to Discrimination on Human Rights Day.
Among the principle victims, the United Nations cites 'women and girls' who are discriminated against, in varying degrees, in all societies. They say intolerance, prejudice and discrimination lie at the heart of human rights violations. To mark this year's Human Rights Day, the United Nations is calling on governments and people around the world to live up to the international laws and standards that exist to protect the human rights.

"I'm concerned that Europe has not ratified the Convention for the protection of migrants and their families," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights South African Navanethem Pillay said. "We have documented cases of criminalization of illegal migrants, long periods of detention of migrants and their children, of forcible deportation. They seem to be treating migrants who come by boat and across land borders as toxic waste."

Everyone of us can make a difference. You are encouraged to celebrate Human Rights Day by advocating non-discrimination, organizing activities, raising awareness and reaching out to your local communities on 10 December and beyond.

Some news headlines from 2009 that Amnesty have highlighted.

In January, President Obama announced that Guantánamo would be closed.

In February, Binyam Mohamed was released. He thanked those who wrote to him, saying “I would not be home in Britain today if it were not for everyone's support. Indeed, I might not be alive at all.”

In April, new legislation on UK arms controls came into force, closing a dangerous loophole that left UK gun-running companies free to traffic small arms and ammunition to human rights hotspots.

In July, we learned that a huge response from Amnesty's Urgent Action Network had helped to bring safety for Jose Luis da Silva, Severina dos Santos Silva and their family after threats to their lives which they believe were linked to their fight for land rights.

In August, after years of campaigning, the US Supreme Court ruled that death row prisoner Troy Davis should have a chance to prove his innocence before the state of Georgia executes him. We expect the hearing to begin in the New Year.

In early November, we saw the biggest breakthrough yet in the campaign for justice for victims of the Gaza conflict. The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Goldstone Report. This calls on Israel and Hamas to investigate war crimes or face intervention by the International Criminal Court.

In late November the government announced an integrated strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women, including rape, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced marriage. This is great news after five years of campaigning to stop violence against women.