Report paints grim picture of global rights situation

Human Rights Watch report entitled "Tyranny's False Comfort" looks at rights records of more than 90 countries in 2014.

    Human Rights Watch has blamed authorities and armed groups in countries with conflict for rights violations [EPA]
    Human Rights Watch has blamed authorities and armed groups in countries with conflict for rights violations [EPA]

    Human Rights Watch has painted a starkly grim picture of the rights situation around the globe, saying "many governments" in places where armed groups are operating "have responded to the turmoil by downplaying or abandoning human rights".

    The 2015 World Report, entitled "Tyranny's False Comfort", looked at rights records of more than 90 countries in 2014, and blames authorities and armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Nigeria's Boko Haram and the Somali armed group al-Shabab for violations.

    But HRW noted that "human rights violations have played a major role in spawning or aggravating most of today's crises". 

    "Protecting human rights and enabling people to have a say in how their governments address the crises will be key to their resolution," said HRW's executive director, Kenneth Roth, in the report's executive summary. 

    "Some of these governments continue to raise human rights concerns, but many appear to have concluded that today's serious security threats must take precedence over human rights," Roth said. 

    "In this difficult moment, they seem to argue, human rights must be put on the back burner, a luxury for less trying times."

    HRW said the Arab Spring - which saw regimes toppled in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen - has "given way almost everywhere to conflict and repression". 

    Rapes and beheadings

    The report highlights mass atrocities committed throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa.

    In China, the report said, the authorities' approach to Xinjiang, the northwestern province that is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, is to respond to complaints about rights violations with more human rights abuses and restrictions.

    But it also focuses on the conflict in eastern Ukraine where government troops have been battling pro-Russia separatists.

    "Cold War-type tensions have revived over Ukraine, with even a civilian jetliner shot out of the sky. Sometimes it can seem as if the world is unraveling," the report said.

    Atrocities committed by ISIL are given prominence, with the report saying "no challenge in the past year has exploded more dramatically than the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State" group.

    "This Sunni armed group has singled out Yazidis, Turkmen, Kurds, Shia and even other Sunnis who contest its extreme interpretation of Islamic law," says the report.

    "Its militants have enslaved, forcibly married, and raped Yazidi women and girls, and beheaded journalists and aid workers in gruesome videotaped spectacles."

    HRW said the problem of turmoil taking precedence over rights is not confined to the Middle East.

    It said human rights concerns were central to the conflict in Nigeria, where civilians have been attacked and killed by Boko Haram fighters while security forces battling the fighters have also committed atrocities.

    In Kenya, the report said, there has been a "major increase in violent attacks on civilians at least partly fuelled by an abusive security force response".

    But the report also blames al-Shabab for the "highest-profile attacks at a Nairobi shopping mall, in Mpeketoni and nearby villages along Kenya's coast, and in northeastern Mandera".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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