Every year, Amnesty International produces a report analyzing the status of human rights around the world. The 2015 report was a bleak one. It showed that the world’s attempt to wipe out terrorism resulted in a global decline in human rights.
The Syrian war remains a global issue, cited as the “world’s most urgent crisis.” But other issues are cropping up as a result of it. In fact, the theme of the report demonstrates a global human rights crisis. The crisis does not simply spill out of Syria’s borders. It is reaching countries far, far away from the tumultuous Middle Eastern country.
The current crisis does not stem directly from the war. It is the product of national governments attempting to maintain national security.
Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, wrote: “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world.”
The report highlighted the 19 war crimes or violations of “the laws of war” happened in 19 countries. Even still, at least 122 countries tortured or mistreated people. At least 30 countries illegally turned away refugees. Turning them away meant sending people back to countries where they were in grave danger.
Further cause for concern were the 113 countries that restricted freedom of the press. The 61 countries that locked up people exercising their legal rights also startled the organization. The death of 156 human rights defenders who died in detention was also a low point for 2015.
The report then issued a warning to the global population. The collective reach of national governments and international agreements meant that few remain unaffected by a disregard for human rights.
The report spared few countries. The report even chastised liberal states like The Netherlands and New Zealand.
The Netherlands was called out for placing those awaiting deportation in solitary confinement. The report also condemned the country for not providing shelter for irregular migrants.
New Zealand was publicly reprimanded for its spying record. The report also noted the country’s practice of keeping asylum seekers housed with remand prisoners.
These are states where privacy and human rights are often taken for granted.
The report also called out the U.K. government. It accuses the U.K. of weakening the European Court of Human Rights. The court is one of the most comprehensive defenders of global human rights.
Amnesty International even criticized the United Nations. The report called U.N. involvement in the Syrian war a “systematic failure …to fulfil its vital role in upholding rights and international law and ensuring accountability.”
Doom and gloom aside, the report maintained that all is not lost. It detailed a few success stories from 2015.
The release of three journalists from a Cairo prison was a positive note in a bleak report. The Al Jazeera journalists were arrested and imprisoned in 2013. Extensive legal battles and global campaigning did little to free them until a presidential pardon last year.
The International Criminal Court’s investigation of the West Bank and Gaza crisis was also a highlight. The court released its first report on potential war crimes in November of 2015. The reports benefited from several months of cooperation with the Israeli government.
Regardless, the human rights report issued a call to action to world leaders. To prevent the human rights crisis from spiraling out of control, governments around the world must stop assaulting human rights. What’s more, governments must also encourage to do their neighbors to do the same.
The ultimate message from Amnesty International the world is that protecting national borders must not hurt the people living inside them.
[Photo by Richard Dwyer/Getty Images]