Governments must recommit to the UDHR
Amnesty International’s Report 2008 was launched on Wednesday 28 May. The report looks back on key events in 2007 and ahead to major human rights challenges for 2008, which is the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The Report covers human rights abuses across 150 countries. It reveals governments’ failures to deliver on human rights, a growing impatience across the world among people with their leaders’ lack of action, and challenges world leaders have to make a fresh commitment to the UDHR in this significant anniversary year.
2008 – The State of the World’s Human Rights:
- In the 60th anniversary year of the UDHR, governments must turn around six decades of human rights failures.
- 2007 was characterised by growing grassroots impatience with the failure of governments to deliver equality and justice. World leaders ignore the voices of people at their peril.
- New leaders must show the same courage and leadership in making a fresh commitment to human rights as we saw in 1948 when world leaders adopted the UDHR.
Australia in summary:
Indigenous issues – Amnesty International supported genuine measures to address the chronic problems outlined in the Little Children are Sacred report. We expressed concern with the large-scale intervention approach taken by the previous Government in the Northern Territory. Indigenous communities were not adequately consulted in the process, which is required by international law. The intervention also overrode Indigenous controls over access to their land, and claimed exemption fro the Racial Discrimination Act.
Amnesty International also publicly called for the previous Government to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Australia was one of a handful of countries which did not support the declaration.
In December 2007 Amnesty International welcomed the announcement by the new Government that it would formally apologise to the Stolen Generations. This act was carried out in February 2008. We hope this will be the symbolic end to the tragic legacy of the horrific treatment of Indigenous children.
Counter terror – Flaws in Australia’s counter terror legislation were highlighted through the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef. The Indian national was held in detention for nearly four weeks – two without charge or the ability to apply for bail. His right to presumption of innocence was seriously compromised, before all charges were dropped and was released. We continue to call for a review of the laws, as we have since they first began to be introduced in 2001.
Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks was returned home to Yatala prison, after more than five years in detention. Amnesty International welcomed his return to Australia, but continues to be critical of the military commission process which convicted him of providing material support for terrorism. We believe he pleaded guilty to trumped up charges before a kangaroo court.
Refugees and asylum-seekers – In 2007, 89 asylum-seekers continued to languish on Nauru under the Pacific Solution, before the Rudd Government promised to shut down the policy and closed the detention centre. The 89 detainees were determined to be genuine refugees, yet some were held in the detention centre for more than 12 months. The use of Temporary Protection Visas also continued throughout 2007, before being abolished this year.
Read the report:
You can read the Amnesty International Report 2008 online or download a PDF version.
- Visit the full Annual Report 2008 online
- Download the full Annual Report 2008 (PDF 4.3Mb)
- Read the media release
source from Amnesty International, posted by Habib