Human rights, we are taking big steps backwards

Human rights, we are taking big steps backwards

Human rights

Two years of pandemic and the arrival of war on Europe's doorstep have generated a global energy crisis and favored a further fracture of an already weakened multilateral system. This is what emerges from Amnesty International's 2022-2023 Report, which meticulously photographs the situation of human rights in 156 countries around the world.

The “double standards” of the West

“ After two years of a global pandemic and the countdown on climate change becoming ever more rapid, the return of war in Europe has shown a world increasingly unprepared to face global crises. Our Report first highlights the double standards that exist around the world on human rights and the inability of the international community to unite around consistently applied human rights and universal values. The united West's response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine contrasts with the lack of meaningful action against serious violations by some of its allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and with the silence regarding the crimes against humanity perpetrated by China against Muslim minorities ”. Thus Emanuele Russo, President of Amnesty International Italy, presenting the Annual Report. “ Great powers like China - continues Russo - must no longer have the possibility of circumventing the system of international protection of rights, and to achieve this result we can only re-launch our proposal for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, which foresees the end of the right of veto by the five permanent member states and a greater space given to all the States party to the Organization, starting from the global south, also including the international movements for the defense of human rights".

Eliana Bello and Emanuele Russo, Director General and President of Amnesty International Italy

The report also underlines the difference in treatment between refugees fleeing from Ukraine and those affected by serious human rights violations in other areas of the planet. The US has welcomed tens of thousands of Ukrainians, but its anti-black racist policies and practices have resulted in the expulsion, between September 2021 and May 2022, of more than 25,000 people who fled Haiti, subjecting them to torture and other abuse. Even the states of the European Union, which have welcomed the Ukrainian men and women fleeing, have instead closed their doors to those fleeing the war and repression in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. “The responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine - explains Agn├Ęs Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International - have told us something about what can be done when there is the political will to do it: global condemnation, crime investigations, open borders to refugees. Those responses must be a handbook on how to deal with all the massive human rights violations.”

Suppressing dissent

One of the Report's focuses is on suppressing dissent through the use of forms of violence and censorship, a constantly growing phenomenon in the West as well. For this reason, the Organization requests that a binding international treaty be drawn up and approved which prohibits instruments intrinsically capable of violating human rights and which subjects the trade in so-called less lethal weapons, intended for the use of force in contexts of public order or custody, human rights checks. "Peaceful protests - explains Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty International Italy - are the most impressive tool for claiming rights and requesting change: see what is happening in Israel. Governments fear and repress them. For this reason, we have launched a campaign calling for recognition of the right to peaceful protest and an end to repressive policies".

Riccardo Noury, Spokesman for Amnesty International Italy

To understand the phenomenon, some data are released: in Unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters was reported in 85 of the 156 states surveyed, less lethal weapons were used in 67 states, and lethal weapons were used in 35 states. unsuitable equipment for public order purposes, military forces were used for public order purposes during protests in 31. Unlawful killings of protesters occurred in 33 states.

Other forms of deterrence and limitation of the right to demonstrate are widespread: procedures for authorizing demonstrations have been introduced in 62 states, new laws have been adopted to limit protests in 29 states, the use of emergency powers and arbitrary arrests of protesters occurred in 79 states. The repression of dissent also travels online: in at least 26 states access to the internet and social media has been limited to hinder protests, while biometric surveillance has been used against protesters in 14. " Then - continues Noury ​​- there are more subtle means: protests are also hindered by confining them to the suburbs, placing excessive burdens on the organizers, such as the obligation to authorize or deposit deposits and imposing a criminalizing or stigmatizing narrative". br>


Human rights violations hit women the hardest and undermine fundamental rights such as abortion.The report puts the spotlight on the United States, where the Supreme Court annulled a constitutional guarantee allowing several states to enact restrictive laws and taking the country back half a century.And the violence against women continues in Pakistan, where the parliament has not approved a law on domestic violence despite the fact that there have been several murders of women by of family members and in India , where both cases of violence against Dalit and Adivasi women and hate crimes against castes have gone unpunished. The situation in Afghanistan is very serious, where the return of the Taliban has caused a serious setback in the rights of women and girls to personal autonomy, education, work and access to public spaces and obviously in Iran, where the "police morale” arrested Mahsa (Zina) Amini for a lock of hair outside her veil: the woman died a few days later as a result of torture and her death gave rise to nationwide protests in which many other women and girls were arrested, wounded and killed.

Ilaria Masinara, campaign director of Amnesty International Italy

“ Women and girls - explains Ilaria Masinara , campaign director of Amnesty International Italy - have been at the forefront of protests, often challenging patriarchal control over their bodies, their lives, their choices and their sexuality on behalf of the state, society and the family. For many of them, protest is the only way to regain possession of their voice, thought and public space in a widespread context of systemic discrimination. A powerful example of this is the wave of mobilizations sweeping across Iran that state agents are brutally repressing, including by resorting to rape and other forms of sexual violence, including electric shocks to the genitals and threats of rape, against of the people who demonstrate, adults as well as minors, to weaken their resistance, humiliate them, punish them and extract confessions ”.

Italy's steps backwards

Even in Italy the situation is not certain of the best and above all there are no improvements. “ 2022 - says Eliana Bello, General Manager of Amnesty International Italy - was a year of missed opportunities, where respect for human rights underwent a constant but progressive deterioration, which nevertheless presents itself, in our opinion, as the result of policies that start from afar and which laid the foundations for the violations we are witnessing today. I wish 2022 would bring with it the passage of a bill to introduce the word 'consent' on rape into the Italian legal system, to strengthen safeguards against violence against women, in compliance with international obligations assumed by Italy with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention; all this while feminicides and episodes of violence against women continued to be perpetrated. 2022, on the other hand, was the year in which it is still difficult for women to have an abortion, due to the numerous conscientious objectors, who in some territories even border on 100% of the doctors-gynecologists. I would have liked to remember 2022 as the year of the citizenship reform, awaited for years by over a million minors, children of foreign parents born and/or raised in Italy. Minors who have attended the same schools as us and who in other countries in Europe would have been recognized as citizens of that country, without hesitation. I would have liked to remember 2022 as the year in which Italy acquired a national authority for the protection and promotion of human rights, 30 years after the signing of UN resolution 48/134, instead we are the only country in the European Union, with Malta, not to have one. Instead, 2022 was the year in which the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya on migration and border control was renewed for another three years, in defiance of the documented and persistent serious violations of by Libyan security forces, armed groups and militias”.

The first measures approved by the government led by Giorgia Meloni are harsh: “ 2022 - explains Eliana Bello - was the year in which the new government, as its first act, introduced a new crime which punishes the invasion of private property with the aim of organizing musical gatherings or having other entertainment purposes, considered dangerous for public health and safety. This new situation could be detrimental to the right of assembly and freedom of expression. The excessive use of force by the police continued, on the occasion of some demonstrations, often accompanied by the use of less lethal weapons, as in the case of students beaten while demonstrating due to deaths during school-work alternation . Nothing or very little has been done to protect the environment and combat climate change. And so 2022 was also the year of environmental disasters and the lack of legislative reforms to protect the environment".

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