My Comment: Pray for the People of Syria.
Amnesty International has accused governments of using state sovereignty as an “excuse” for failing to intervene in emergencies such as in Syria.
In its annual report, the human rights group also blames world leaders for prioritising immigration control over the rights of people.
The study documents torture in at least 112 countries.
It also criticises the UN for what it describes as its lack of action over human rights abuses.
Syria is one example where Amnesty says war crimes have been committed.
“For nearly two years, the Syrian military and security forces have launched indiscriminate attacks and detained, tortured and killed people they perceived to support the rebels,” said the group’s international secretary general, Salil Shetty.
“Armed opposition groups have also carried out summary killings and torture albeit on a much smaller scale.”
The UN Security Council’s failure to act was defended, particularly by Russia and China, as respecting the sovereignty of the state, he added.
“The idea that neither individual states nor the international community should act decisively to protect civilians when governments and their security forces target their own people – unless there is something in it for them – is unacceptable..
“Inaction in the name of respect for state sovereignty is inexcusable.”
The survey of 159 countries and territories highlights what it terms positive findings, however, in the spread of internet access and communications.
“Increasingly, there is very little that governments and corporations can do in hiding behind ‘sovereign’ boundaries,” Mr Shetty said.
Amnesty’s findings on Syria
- Crimes under international law: Government accused of war crimes in areas including Homs, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and Aleppo
- Attacks on journalists: At least 11 were killed in apparently targeted attacks. Others died as a result of indiscriminate shelling or gunfire
- Targeting wounded and health workers:Government forces alleged to have aimed attacks at medical centres set up by the opposition to help victims
- Executions: Opposition fighters and civilians, sometimes in large numbers, have allegedly been summarily executed
- Deaths in custody: At least 550 people, including children, are reported to have died in custody
Amnesty points to the role social media played in attracting attention to the case of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban after campaigning for girls’ education.
But it also expresses concern over the jailing of three bloggers in Vietnam for “conducting propaganda” against the state, and called for wider access to the internet for all.
The report says 101 countries repressed their people’s rights to freedom of expression in 2012, up from 91 out of 155 countries recorded in 2011.
It also accuses governments around the world of showing more interest in their national borders than the rights of their citizens and migrants.
“Too many governments are abusing human rights in the name of immigration control – going well beyond legitimate border control measures,” said Mr Shetty.
He added that millions of migrants were suffering exploitation – such as forced labour and sexual exploitation – as a result.
In its summary of events in 2012, Amnesty says numerous nations have failed to address the abuse of women.
It refers to rapes by armed groups in countries such as Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and says the health of many women and girls around the world is threatened by the lack of access to safe abortions.
However it welcomed prosecutions over alleged human rights violations during past military regimes in Argentina, Guatemala and Uruguay.