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  1. 1. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE A YEAR IN terrorism. Over the past year, some of the world’s most powerful governments have received an uncomfortable wake-up call about the dangers of PERSPECTIVE: A undervaluing the human rights dimension of their actions at home and abroad. Their doublespeak and deception have been exposed by the media, challenged GLASS HALF FULL by activists and rejected by the courts. I also see other signs for optimism. The overall number of conflicts worldwide continues to fall, thanks to international conflict management, conflict BY IRENE KHAN, SECRETARY GENERAL, prevention and peace-building initiatives, giving hope AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL to millions of people in countries like Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Krishna Pahadi, a human rights activist in Nepal, has Institutional reform was initiated at the United been detained 28 times by the government. When I met Nations (UN) to strengthen the international human him in a police detention centre in Kathmandu in rights machinery, despite the attempt by a number of February 2005, shortly after he had been arrested for cynical and “spoiler” governments to block progress. the 27th time, his message was surprisingly upbeat. The The call for justice for some of the worst crimes under more the regime locks up peaceful protesters like him, international law gained greater force across the world, he told me, the more it strengthens the cause of human from Latin America to the Balkans. Although corrupt, rights. Widespread political unrest and international inefficient and politically biased national judicial condemnation of the Nepalese government’s actions systems remain a major barrier to justice, the tide is support Krishna’s views. Deprived of any reading beginning to turn against impunity in some parts of the material in prison except religious books, he had world. In 2005 several countries opened investigations finished reading the Bhagavad Gita and was about to or conducted trials of people suspected of war crimes begin the Bible, to be followed by the Qur’an. He has no and crimes against humanity. Despite the opposition of doubt that his struggle and that of others like him will the USA, support for the International Criminal Court prevail. It is only a matter of time, he said. (ICC) has grown, with Mexico becoming the 100th state Krishna is not daunted. Nor am I, despite the abuse party to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC. The UN and injustice, violence and violations across the globe Security Council’s decision to refer the situation in documented in the Amnesty International Report 2006. Darfur to the ICC set an important precedent, The human rights landscape is littered with broken demonstrating the link between security and justice. promises and failures of leadership. Governments Ordinary people took to the streets to demand their profess to champion the cause of human rights but rights and to seek political change. In Bolivia, the show repressive reflexes when it comes to their own poorest country in South America, massive protests policies and performance. Grave abuses in Afghanistan by indigenous communities, peasants and miners led and Iraq cast a shadow over much of the human rights to the resignation of the President and election to debate, as torture and terror feed off each other in a power of the country’s first ever indigenous Head of vicious cycle. The brutality and intensity of attacks by State. Even repressive governments found themselves armed groups in these and other countries grow, taking caught out by mass protest, and were forced to make a heavy toll on human lives. some concessions. Nevertheless, a closer look at the events of 2005 There will be those who will challenge my sense of gives me reason for hope. There were some clear signs optimism. But I take strength from these developments that a turning point may be in sight after five years of and, most importantly, from the extraordinary display backlash against human rights in the name of counter- of global activism and human solidarity across borders; Krishna Pahadi (right), a founding member of the Human Rights and Peace Society and former Chair of AI Nepal, with Irene Khan in London shortly © AI after his release, 2005. Amnesty International Report 2006 1
  2. 2. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE from the energy and commitment of Amnesty ruled that the system for investigating deaths of Iraqi International (AI) members worldwide; from the huge prisoners at the hands of UK armed forces personnel crowds that turned out to “make poverty history” in the was seriously deficient. lead-up to the G8 Summit; and from the outpouring of In the USA there was similar questioning of the Bush support from ordinary people for the victims of the Administration’s claim that in its fight against terrorism tsunami in Asia, Hurricane Katrina in the USA and the it could exempt itself from the prohibition against earthquake in Kashmir. torture and ill-treatment. A legislative amendment From peasant farmers protesting against land sought to affirm the ban on torture and cruel, inhuman grabbing in China to women asserting their rights on and degrading treatment of all prisoners by US officials the 10th anniversary of the UN World Conference on and agents, wherever they might be. Not only did the Women, the events of 2005 showed that the human President threaten to veto the bill, the Vice President rights idea – together with the worldwide movement of sought to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) people that drives it forward – is more powerful and from the law. The CIA itself admitted to using “water- stronger than ever. boarding” (simulated drowning) as an interrogation technique, and the Attorney-General claimed that the Torture and counter-terrorism USA has the power to mistreat detainees abroad, so When suicide bombers struck at the heart of London long as they are not US citizens. in July 2005, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair reacted In the end, it was President Bush who blinked first by announcing plans that would drastically restrict and was forced to withdraw his opposition to the bill. human rights and show the world that “the rules of the However, the bill had a serious sting in its tail, with an game are changing”. Lord Steyn, a retired Law Lord of amendment which stripped Guantánamo detainees of the UK judiciary, responded aptly: “The maintenance the right to file habeas corpus appeals in a federal court of the rule of law is not a game. It is about access to and barred them from seeking court review of their justice, fundamental human rights and democratic treatment or conditions of detention. Nevertheless, the values”. President’s public climb-down was indicative of the Fortunately, some of the most outrageous pressure being put on the Administration by powerful provisions of the legislation proposed by the UK divisions within the USA and increasing concern among government were thrown out by Parliament. The its allies abroad. government was defeated twice on its counter- European governments squirmed as one story after terrorism legislation in 2005 – the first ever another revealed their role as junior partners of the parliamentary defeats for Prime Minister Blair in his USA in its “war on terror”. There was public outcry nine years of office. following media reports of possible collusion between The judiciary also took the UK government to task. the US Administration and some European The highest court in the land, the House of Lords, governments on “CIA black sites” – alleged secret rejected the government’s contention that it could detention centres on European territory. Increasing use information obtained by torture by foreign evidence that prisoners were being illegally transferred governments as evidence in UK courts. In another through European airports to countries where there case, the Court of Appeal rejected the government’s was a risk they would be tortured (“extraordinary claim that UK forces in Iraq were not bound by renditions”) also provoked widespread public international and domestic human rights law. It also condemnation. Roma in Bulgaria at an anti-discrimination rally in central Sofia, February 2005. The rally coincided with the start of the international initiative “2005-2015 Decade of Roma Inclusion” which was launched in eight south- © EMPICS/AP eastern European states. 2 Amnesty International Report 2006
  3. 3. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE diminished. The USA has not categorically rejected the use of certain forms of torture or ill-treatment. It has failed to institute an independent investigation into the role of senior US officials in the abuses committed in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, despite growing evidence of high-level involvement. When the British courts declared the detention of foreigners without charge or trial to be unlawful, the UK government immediately introduced new legislation to hold people under virtual house arrest. It continues to seek “diplomatic assurances” to enable it to return people to countries where they could face torture. The “export value” of the “war on terror” has not decreased either. With the tacit or explicit approval of © Reuters/Raheb Homavandi the USA, countries like Egypt, Jordan and Yemen Women protest continue to detain, without charge or fair trial, people suspected of involvement in terrorism. against gender What is different about 2005 compared to past years discrimination is that the public mood is changing, thanks to the work in the Iranian of human rights advocates and others, which is putting capital, Tehran, the US and European governments on the defensive. June 2005. People are no longer willing to buy the fallacious argument that reducing our liberty will increase our The demand for the closure of the detention centre in security. More and more governments are being called Guantánamo Bay gained greater momentum with the UN, to account – before legislatures, in courts and other various European institutions, and political and opinion public forums. More and more there is a realization that leaders, including prominent US figures, adding their flouting human rights and the rule of law, far from voices to the growing pressure. What was once AI’s lone winning the “war on terror”, only creates resentment voice in the wilderness has now become a crescendo of and isolates those communities targeted by these condemnation against the most blatant symbol of US measures, plays into the hands of extremists, and abuse of power. That strengthens our own resolve to undermines our collective security. continue to campaign until the US Administration closes Lines, however fragile, are being drawn. Voices are the Guantánamo camp, discloses the truth about secret being raised. This offers hope for a turning point in the detention centres under its control, and acknowledges debate and a more principled approach to human rights the right of detainees to be tried in accordance with and security in the future. international law standards or be released. Contrary to the statement of the UK Prime Minister, The shifts I have identified do not mean that support the rules of the game have not changed. Neither security for restrictive measures has disappeared or that attacks nor human rights are well served by governments who on human rights in the name of counter-terrorism have play games with these fundamental rules. International Women’s Day, Beni, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 2005. The women are marching barefoot with their shoes on their heads in protest at widespread © AI rape in the region. Amnesty International Report 2006 3
  4. 4. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE We must continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms the cowardly and heinous attacks on civilians by armed groups. Equally strongly, we must also resist the foolish and dangerous strategies of governments who seek to fight terror with torture. Reform initiatives Growing disillusionment and damning criticism of the UN human rights machinery finally led governments to initiate some important reforms as part of a rethink of the UN’s role in international governance. UN member states agreed to double the budget of the Members of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Torture Abolition and to focus its work to a much greater extent on and Survivors protecting human rights through presence in the field. Support Coalition The member states decided to jettison the International discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, and demonstrate proposed to replace it with a Human Rights Council, outside the White elected by and accountable to the UN General House, Washington Assembly, and able to scrutinize all states, including, D.C., USA, June first and foremost, its own members. Although a © Reuters/Chris Kleponis 2005. product of compromise, the proposal represents a significant opportunity to improve the UN human rights machinery. Regrettably, the future of the Council hangs Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to address the in the balance as we go to press because of the refusal unacknowledged arrest, detention, torture and often of the USA to support it, ostensibly on the basis that it death of prisoners at the hands of agents of the state. has too many “deficiencies”. One state, no matter how AI, which first began campaigning on behalf of the powerful, should not be allowed to undermine a broad, “disappeared” some 35 years ago, welcomes this international consensus. I hope that other important contribution to human rights protection. governments will resist US pressure, rally behind the The UN appointed a Special Representative on the resolution and get the Council up and running. issue of human rights and transnational corporations I am encouraged by the support that governments and other business enterprises. Although companies have shown for changes to the UN human rights can be a force for positive social and economic machinery. This is all the more remarkable, given the development, the impact of some business operations way in which much of the UN Secretary-General’s on human rights are deeply damaging, as shown by the ambitious and forward-looking package on UN violence generated by oil and mineral interests in reform – including proposals to expand Security places like the Niger delta in Nigeria, the Democratic Council membership, strengthen weapons non- Republic of the Congo and Sudan, or the readiness of proliferation and better equip the UN to act effectively the information and technology industry to fall in line to halt genocide – was rejected or wrecked. with China’s restrictive policies on freedom of I am also heartened by some less publicized gains in expression. Yet a powerful combination of political and the past year. The UN completed drafting an business interests has managed to resist international International Convention for the Protection of All efforts to advance the legal accountability of business Human rights defenders outside the building where former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was detained in Santiago, Chile, December 2005. Alberto Fujimori has been charged in Peru with human rights violations including © CNDDHH ordering killings and torture. 4 Amnesty International Report 2006
  5. 5. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE demonstrated by the USA and the UK in relation to Iraq, and by Russia and China in the case of Sudan. They appear oblivious to the lessons of history that the road to strengthening global security lies through respect for human rights. Former Iraqi The hypocrisy of the G8 was particularly marked in President 2005. The G8 governments claimed to put eradication of Saddam poverty in Africa high on their agenda, while continuing Hussein to be major suppliers of arms to African governments. stands trial, Six of the eight G8 countries are among the top 10 largest Baghdad, global arms exporters, and all eight export large October © EMPICS/AP amounts of conventional weapons or small arms to 2005. developing countries. This should place a particular responsibility on the G8 to help create an effective system of global control on arms transfers. But, despite for human rights. Despite considerable controversy pressure from the UK government, the leaders of the G8 surrounding the UN Norms on business and human failed to agree on the need for an Arms Trade Treaty at rights, the issue of corporate accountability remained the Gleneagles Summit in July 2005. firmly on the international agenda. Building on the However, the call for a global treaty to control experience of the Norms, the task now will be to small arms gained support from at least 50 countries develop a clear set of international human rights around the world. The message of the campaign, standards and principles for corporate actors. jointly led by AI, Oxfam and the International Action Network for Small Arms (IANSA), is clear: the arms Rhetoric and reality trade is out of control, and must be restrained Institutions are only as strong as the political will of urgently. those who govern them. Far too often, powerful Turning to regional institutions, I am disappointed governments manipulate the UN and regional that the European Union (EU) remains a largely muted institutions to further their narrow national interests. voice on human rights. It cannot expect to maintain The USA is a prime example, but unfortunately it is not its credibility on human rights and occupy the moral alone, as is evidenced by Russia’s record in the high ground if it buries its collective head in the sand Caucasus and Central Asia, and China’s expanding when confronted with abuses committed by its major economic co-operation with some of the most political and trading partners, or closes its eyes to the repressive governments in Africa. policies and practices of its own member states Those who bear the greatest responsibility for towards refugees and asylum-seekers and on counter- safeguarding global security in the UN Security terrorism. It must be more willing to confront Russia’s Council proved in 2005 to be among the most willing appalling human rights failures in Chechnya. It must to paralyze the Council and prevent it from taking also resist pressures from business to lift its arms effective action on human rights. This was clearly embargo against China. This embargo was originally AI members from around the world take part in the march which launched the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 2005. © AI Amnesty International Report 2006 5
  6. 6. A YEAR IN PERSPECTIVE imposed after the brutal 1989 crackdown in institutions and individual states. That is one of the Tiananmen Square in order to show the commitment reasons why governments contested Myanmar of the EU to promoting human rights in China. It becoming the chair of the Association of Southeast should not be removed until the Chinese government Asian Nations (ASEAN). That is why the EU decided in has made significant human rights concessions. the end not to reverse the ban on arms sales to China. The African Union (AU) has developed a progressive That is why India has put human rights considerations framework on human rights, and played an important as a key element in its approach to Nepal. role in resolving the crisis in Togo, but it is sadly Both on principled as well as pragmatic grounds, lacking the capacity and political will to deliver on its human rights should be seen as a critical element of promises consistently. Hampered by logistical sustainable global and regional security strategies, constraints and the refusal of the Sudanese not as an optional extra for good times. There is no government and armed militias to abide by doubt in my mind that the events of 2005 show that international law, AU human rights monitors could the political and moral authority of governments will not make a real difference on the ground in Darfur. It be judged more and more by their stand on human showed no stomach to tackle the appalling human rights at home and abroad. Therein lies one of the rights situation in Zimbabwe. It failed to convince most important achievements of the human rights Nigeria or Senegal to co-operate with the efforts to movement in recent times. bring to justice the former Liberian and Chadian There are clear challenges ahead. Vicious attacks by presidents Charles Taylor and Hissène Habré. African armed groups, the increased instability in the Middle leaders do a disservice to themselves and the African East, the mounting anger and isolation of Muslim people when they use African solidarity to shield each communities around the world, the forgotten other from justice and accountability. conflicts in Africa and elsewhere, growing inequalities In the face of institutional lethargy and governments’ and glaring poverty – all are evidence of a dangerous failures, public opinion, whether in Africa, Europe or and divided world in which human rights are being elsewhere, is demanding a stronger commitment by daily threatened. But far from being discouraged, I governments to human rights at home and abroad. believe these challenges make the impetus for action Thanks to human rights advocates and others, and the even greater. growing pressure of public opinion, the international As we set our agenda for 2006, AI and its millions of community is being forced to acknowledge human members and supporters take encouragement from rights as the framework within which security and the remarkable achievements of the human rights development should be imagined and implemented. movement and the faith of ordinary people in the Without respect for human rights, neither security nor power of human rights. We in AI do not underestimate development can be sustained. that power. We will use it to fight those who peddle In both international and regional contexts, human fear and hate, to challenge the myopic vision of the rights are increasingly being acknowledged as a world’s most powerful leaders, and to hold benchmark for the credibility and authority of governments to account. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S COMMITMENTS In 2006, Amnesty International is committed to: ■ Resist attacks on human rights standards, in ■ Champion the right of women and girls to be free particular the absolute prohibition on torture from violence and discrimination. and ill-treatment. ■ Promote the protection of refugees, displaced people ■ Demand the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention and migrants. camp and secret detention centres, and the disclosure ■ Expose the link between poverty and human of “extraordinary renditions” and “ghost detainees”. rights abuses and hold governments accountable ■ Condemn strongly deliberate attacks on civilians by for poverty eradication through respect for all armed groups. human rights. ■ Fight to end impunity and to strengthen national ■ Campaign to hold corporate and economic actors and international justice systems. accountable for human rights abuses. ■ Expose human rights abuses committed during ■ Strive for universal ratification of the seven core armed conflicts, and campaign for an international human rights treaties fundamental for human arms trade treaty to control the sale of small arms. security and dignity. ■ Seek a universal moratorium on the death penalty as ■ Support human rights defenders and activists in their a step towards its abolition. fight for equality and justice. 6 Amnesty International Report 2006
  7. 7. GLOBAL OVERVIEW THE SEARCH FOR failure to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights was more and more widely seen as a grave injustice and a denial of human development. HUMAN SECURITY Whether in response to the urgent needs of people caught up in natural disasters or the plight of individual victims of government repression, the activities of ordinary people often shamed governments into action. The year 2005 posed some major challenges for Human security requires that individuals and governments: intractable conflicts, terrorist attacks, communities are safe not only from war, genocide and the relentless spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the terrorist attack, but also from hunger, disease and persistence of widespread extreme poverty and natural disaster. Throughout 2005 activists campaigned natural disasters. for notorious human rights violators and powerful These challenges should have been met with multinationals to be held more accountable, and for an responses based on human rights principles. All too end to racism, discrimination and social exclusion. often they were not. Individually and collectively, Many of the human rights abuses seen in 2005 governments continued to pursue policies that often crossed national boundaries – from torture and sacrificed human rights for political or economic “renditions” to the negative impact of trade and aid expediency. policies. While borders were being dismantled in some At the same time, around the world, millions of aspects of international relations – particularly in the people lent their weight to calls for greater sphere of economic transactions – they continued to accountability, more transparency and greater be erected in others, notably migration. recognition of our shared responsibility to tackle these Recognition of the need for global solutions to global threats collectively. From the mass mobilization address global threats, from terrorism to bird flu, around the slogan “make poverty history” to the undoubtedly grew. There were also many reminders of lawyers and activists who took on powerful states in the necessity for UN reform. These included the groundbreaking court cases, civil society pressed continued failure of the UN Security Council to hold governments to deliver on their responsibilities. rogue states accountable, the exposure of high level The year saw a growing understanding that respect corruption at the UN in the Oil for Food scandal, the for the rule of law is essential for human security, and silence which greeted the failure to meet the first of the that undermining human rights principles in the “war UN Millennium Development Goals and the failure of on terror” is not a route to security. Similarly, the international financial institutions to grapple with the Kashmiri girls in a tent camp in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. Aid was slow in reaching millions of people rendered homeless by an earthquake in October 2005. © REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama Amnesty International Report 2006 7
  8. 8. GLOBAL OVERVIEW Afghans in the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, January 2005, move tanks as part of a disarmament programme. This flawed programme was followed by another to remove arms from illegal armed groups. Much of Afghanistan remained under the control of factional commanders, many accused of gross human rights abuses. Lawlessness and insecurity were widespread. © REUTERS/Ahmad Masood inequities of trade, aid and debt. The UN’s own world. For example, in India in October, during the run- leadership proposed a number of far-reaching up to the annual festival season, a series of bomb blasts initiatives, but the limited outcomes of the UN World in Delhi left 66 people dead and more than 220 injured. Summit in September revealed how the politics of In Iraq, hundreds of civilians were killed or injured in narrow national self-interest continued to trump attacks by armed groups throughout the year. In multilateralist aspirations. Jordan, three bombs in hotels in Amman killed 60 Yet there was progress, notably in the area of people in November. In the UK, bomb attacks on the consolidating an emerging international justice system public transport system in London in July killed 52 in the form of the International Criminal Court, the ad people and injured hundreds. hoc international tribunals and increased use of Some of the counter-terrorism tactics adopted by extraterritorial jurisdiction. After years of calls for governments flouted human rights. Some governments additional resources for the Office of the UN High even tried to legalize or justify abusive methods that Commissioner for Human Rights, its budget was have long been deemed illegal by the international significantly increased. Proposals to replace the much community and can never be justified. discredited UN Commission on Human Rights with a UN Thousands of men suspected of terrorism remained in Human Rights Council were under discussion. US-run detention centres around the world without any Encouraged by these moves, and above all by the prospect of being charged or facing a fair trial. At the end growing strength and diversity of the world’s human of 2005, some 14,000 people detained by the USA and its rights community, AI renewed its commitment to allies during military and security operations in Iraq and globalizing justice as a means of realizing rights for all Afghanistan were still held in US military detention in the search for human security. centres in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay in Cuba and Iraq. In Guantánamo, dozens of detainees staged hunger TORTURE AND TERROR strikes to protest against the conditions of their The challenges that the human rights movement faced detention and were force fed. in the wake of the attacks in the USA on 11 September Terrorism suspects were held by other countries too, 2001 continued. Governments continued to promote some of them detained for long periods without charge the rhetoric that human rights are an obstacle to, or trial, including in Egypt, Jordan, the UK and Yemen. rather than an essential precondition for, human Others languished in prison facing the threat of security. However, thanks to the efforts of human deportation to countries where torture was routine. rights activists and others, there was growing criticism Many detainees were subjected to torture and other of and resistance to government efforts to subordinate ill-treatment. human rights to security concerns. During 2005, it became increasingly clear how far Despite the governmental resources and efforts many countries had colluded or participated in committed to combating terrorism, the year saw a rising supporting abusive US policies and practices in the number of attacks by individuals and armed groups “war on terror”, including torture, ill-treatment, secret espousing a wide range of causes in many countries. and unlimited detentions and unlawful cross-border Deliberate attacks on civilians, breaching the most transfers. Many governments faced demands for basic human rights principles, were seen around the greater accountability and there were key judicial 8 Amnesty International Report 2006
  9. 9. GLOBAL OVERVIEW decisions in defence of basic human rights principles. Germany, Italy and Sweden into the role of Even within the US government itself, tensions government officials in specific rendition cases; in emerged over the curtailment of fundamental liberties. Spain, an investigation was opened by the Spanish Information continued to emerge in 2005 that helped authorities into the use of Spanish airports and to expose some of the secret and abusive practices airspace by aircraft operated by the US Central developed by states in the name of fighting terrorism. Intelligence Agency (CIA). In Iceland, Ireland and the For example, further information came to light about Netherlands, government officials or activists called the illegal transfer of terrorism suspects from one for official inquiries. country to another without any judicial process – a Investigations by journalists, AI and others in 2005 practice known in the USA as “extraordinary left little doubt that the US government was running a renditions”. It was revealed that the USA had, through system of covert prisons, known as “black sites”. There this practice, transferred many detainees to countries were persistent reports that the CIA had operated such known to use torture and other ill-treatment in secret detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, interrogations, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and other unknown Saudi Arabia and Syria. Such transfers effectively locations in Europe and elsewhere, including on the outsourced torture. British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. About What renditions mean in reality was highlighted in three dozen detainees deemed to have high 2005 by the case of Muhammad al-Assad, a Yemeni intelligence value had “disappeared” in US custody, and living in Tanzania, who was arrested at his home in Dar- were allegedly being held in black sites, completely es-Salaam on 26 December 2003. He was hooded, outside the protection of the law. handcuffed and flown to an unknown destination. It In November the Council of Europe launched an was the beginning of a 16-month ordeal of investigation into reports that the network of US secret unacknowledged detention and interrogation, in which prisons and involvement in renditions included sites in he had no contact with the outside world and no idea Europe. AI strongly endorsed calls to European where he was. governments to investigate such allegations by officials He was held for a year in a secret facility where he of the Council of Europe, one of whom declared: “not was subjected to extreme sensory deprivation. His knowing is not good enough regardless of whether masked guards never spoke a word to him, but ignorance is intentional or accidental”. communicated their instructions in sign language. At a conference jointly organized by AI and the UK- There was a constant low-level hum of white noise. based NGO Reprieve in London in November, former Artificial light was kept on 24 hours a day. Muhammad detainees and families of detainees held in al-Assad’s father was told by Tanzanian officials that Guantánamo or in UK facilities testified to the human his son had been turned over to US custody, and that no cost of indefinite detention without charge or trial. one knew where he was. His family heard nothing of Speaking of the trauma of the families of those him until he was flown to Yemen in May 2005, where he detained, Nadja Dizdarevic, the wife of Boudelaa Hadz was imprisoned, apparently at the request of the US of Bosnia and Herzegovina who has been held at authorities. Muhammad al-Assad was still in custody in Guantánamo for four years, said: Yemen without charge or trial at the end of 2005. “It is difficult to be a mother to my children Other testimonies from former detainees collected because I have not enough time for them and I am during 2005 by AI were shockingly similar to the everything that they have… At night after I put my experience described by Muhammad al-Assad. Two children to sleep I start my work and while the other Yemeni men were transferred to Yemen by the whole world sleeps in peace I tirelessly write USA in May 2005, where they remained in custody complaints, requests, letters, learn the laws and without charge or trial at the end of the year. In human rights conventions so that I could continue separate interviews with AI in June, September and my struggle for the life and release of my husband October 2005, all three described being held in and the others.” isolation for 16 to 18 months in secret detention centres Governments have over the years requested run by US officials. The interviews conducted by AI “diplomatic assurances” from countries known to use provided strong new evidence of the US network of torture in order to allow them to deport people there. secret detention centres around the world. In 2005 the UK government sought to rely on In December 2005, after the UK Foreign Secretary diplomatic assurances and concluded Memorandums said that he was not aware of any renditions flights of Understanding with Jordan, Lebanon and Libya, and refuelling or using other facilities in the UK since was seeking similar agreements with Algeria, Egypt and early 2001, AI published details of three flights that other states in the region. AI opposed the use of such refuelled in the UK, hours after transferring detainees “diplomatic assurances” as they erode the absolute to countries where they risked “disappearance”, prohibition of torture, and are inherently unreliable torture or other ill-treatment. Information and unenforceable. increasingly came to light in 2005, partly because Evidence that many governments had been engaging evidence was uncovered by victims themselves and in, conniving in or acquiescing to the outsourcing of partly due to governmental inquiries, that other torture underlined the need for greater transnational European countries may have been similarly involved accountability in a world where human rights in secret transfers. Inquiries were conducted in responsibilities do not stop at the borders of a state. Amnesty International Report 2006 9
  10. 10. GLOBAL OVERVIEW The outsourcing of torture meant that the USA and after unfair trials and sentenced to long prison terms some of its European allies, which had for decades for allegedly participating in the protest. unreservedly condemned torture at all times and in all In China, the authorities continued to use the global circumstances, openly defied the absolute ban against “war on terror” to justify harsh repression in the torture. The implication was that they believed that Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), resulting some torture and ill-treatment was justifiable in the in serious human rights violations against the ethnic “war on terror”. Uighur community. While China’s latest “strike-hard” The US administration continued its attempts to campaign against crime had subsided in most parts of redefine and justify certain forms of torture or other the country, it was officially renewed in the XUAR in ill-treatment in the name of “national security” and May 2005 to eradicate “terrorism, separatism and public order. When questioned about the US position religious extremism”. It resulted in the closure of on the treatment of prisoners, the US Attorney unofficial mosques and arrests of imams. Uighur General, Alberto Gonzales, made it clear that his nationalists, including peaceful activists, continued to government would define torture in its own way. be detained or imprisoned. Those charged with serious Although the US leadership denied that the “separatist” or “terrorist” offences were at risk of government condoned torture, evidence emerged that lengthy imprisonment or execution. Those attempting the CIA used “water boarding” (simulated drowning), to pass information abroad about the extent of the prolonged shackling or induced hypothermia on crackdown faced arbitrary detention and prisoners held in secret prisons. Some people within imprisonment. The authorities continued to accuse the US administration apparently continued to believe Uighur activists of terrorism without providing credible that certain forms of torture and ill-treatment evidence for such charges. practices were acceptable if used to gather intelligence In both Malaysia and Singapore, where national to counter terrorism. However, growing challenges to security legislation allows prolonged detention these policies both within the USA – where at the end of without charge of terrorism suspects, dozens of the year the US Senate passed legislation affirming the individuals remained in detention under Internal ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading Security Acts without charge or trial. treatment – and among the USA’s allies in the “war on In Kenya and certain other African countries, the terror” offered hope of a more principled approach to rhetoric of counter-terrorism was employed to justify human rights and security in the future. repressive legislation which was used to silence human Human rights abuses in the context of counter- rights defenders and obstruct their work. terrorism policies were not confined to the USA and its The exposure during 2005 of the unlawful practices European allies. In Uzbekistan, the authorities claimed of governments in the name of countering terrorism that people taking part in a demonstration in Andizhan mobilized and affirmed the growing demands for at which peaceful demonstrators were killed had been accountability. The determined work of human rights coerced to do so by quot;terroristsquot;. Subsequently, more activists, lawyers, journalists and many others helped than 70 people were convicted of quot;terroristquot; offences to lift the blanket of secrecy to expose states that AI INTERVENES IN COURT CASES be at risk of torture or ill-treatment is and should remain AI continued to seek the legal implementation of absolute. Four states intervened to argue that this international human rights standards by intervening in prohibition is not absolute, but may be subject to a cases before national and international courts. “balancing” test against such interests as countering Preventing the erosion of the absolute prohibition terrorism. At the end of 2005, the decision of the Court against torture in the context of the “war on terror” was was still pending. the objective of two interventions in 2005. As part of its work against the death penalty, AI In a case before the UK’s highest court, the Appellate intervened in a case concerning Guatemala before the Committee of the House of Lords, AI coordinated a Inter-American Court of Human Rights. coalition of 14 organizations in a joint intervention to Guatemala, which ratified the American Convention challenge the admissibility as evidence in judicial on Human Rights in 1978, sought to extend the use of proceedings of information extracted as a result of torture. the death penalty in 1996 to make it mandatory for The government had contended that it should be allowed kidnapping. AI argued that the death penalty could to introduce into judicial proceedings information not be extended beyond the legislation applicable obtained from abroad allegedly as a result of torture, on when Guatemala ratified the Convention and that as a the ground that no torture had been committed or result of a law passed in 2000, Guatemala had failed supported by UK agents. The Law Lords ruled that such to guarantee the right of a convicted person to seek information was inadmissible in UK courts. pardon, amnesty or commutation of sentence. In In a case before the European Court of Human September the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Rights, AI intervened with six other NGOs to argue that ordered Guatemala to suspend the death sentence in the prohibition on the transfer (refoulement) of a person this case, and not to execute anyone condemned to from a state party to the European Convention on death for the crime of kidnapping under the current Human Rights to another state where he or she would legislation. 10 Amnesty International Report 2006
  11. 11. GLOBAL OVERVIEW © REUTERS Ninety people were killed and at least 100 were injured when car bombs exploded in the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 23 July 2005. transferred, detained and tortured those they The failure of governments and armed groups alike suspected of terrorism. to seek the political solutions needed to end conflict The year 2005 also witnessed some successes in the and to abide by negotiated settlements took a heavy struggle by civil society to stop the trend towards toll on the human rights of ordinary people. Some states justifying, on security grounds, the use of governments sought advantage from conflicts in other information extracted through torture. The year ended countries, often arming one side or the other, while with a major judicial victory when the UK government disclaiming responsibility. When the international lost its legal battle in the domestic courts to reverse the community mustered enough support to put pressure centuries-old ban against the admissibility of on warring factions through the UN Security Council or information obtained as a result of torture in judicial regional bodies, the parties often failed to deliver on proceedings. AI had intervened in the case, arguing their commitments, as seen in Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire. that the absolute prohibition of torture and ill- In their quest for political or economic gain, treatment under international law prevented such use. government forces and armed groups often showed The attempts by governments to weaken the ban on total disregard for the civilian population caught in torture and other ill-treatment compromised both the their path and even specifically targeted civilians as moral integrity and practical effectiveness of efforts to part of their military strategy. The large majority of combat terrorism. 2005 showed the absolute necessity casualties in armed conflicts in 2005 were civilians. of holding governments accountable to the rule of law, Women and girls were exposed to the violence that and reconfirmed that an independent and impartial accompanies any war and were also subject to judiciary plays a vital role in preventing the erosion of particular, often sexual, abuse. In Papua New Guinea fundamental safeguards and securing respect for girls were reportedly exchanged for guns by their male human rights. relatives. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo large numbers of women and girls were abducted and CONFLICT AND ITS AFTERMATH raped by armed combatants. In nearly three quarters The number of armed conflicts around the world of the conflicts around the world, children were continued to fall, but the toll of human suffering did recruited as soldiers. not. Continuing violence fed on a steady diet of The world’s attention focused largely on Iraq, Sudan, unresolved grievances arising from years of and Israel/Occupied Territories while prolonged destructive conflict and the failure to hold perpetrators conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya/Russian of abuse to account. It was sustained by the easy Federation, Nepal, northern Uganda and other corners availability of weaponry; the marginalization and of the world were largely ignored or forgotten. impoverishment of entire populations; systemic and In Iraq, US-led multinational forces, armed groups widespread corruption; and the failure to address and the transitional government all failed to respect impunity for gross violations of human rights and the rights of civilians. Armed groups deliberately humanitarian law. attacked civilians causing great loss of life. They Millions of people faced violence and hardship in targeted humanitarian organizations and tortured and conflicts caused or prolonged by the collective failures killed hostages. The killing of two defence lawyers of political leaders, armed groups and to some extent the involved in Saddam Hussain’s trial highlighted the international community. Millions more endured chronic insecurity in the country. This insecurity insecurity, hunger and homelessness in the aftermath of drastically curtailed the ability of many Iraqi women conflicts, without the necessary levels of support from and girls to go about their daily lives in safety, and a the international community to rebuild their lives. number of Iraqi and non-Iraqi women politicians, Amnesty International Report 2006 11
  12. 12. GLOBAL OVERVIEW ARMS CONTROL The global arms trade remained largely Tackling the proliferation and misuse of weapons unaccountable and most transfers were shrouded in remained a key element of AI’s efforts to combat secrecy. Accurate and up-to-date statistics were human rights violations, whether committed in the therefore difficult to obtain. However, the information course of conflict, crime or security operations. available suggested some striking trends. Most of the The Control Arms Campaign – launched in October world’s military equipment and services were traded 2003 by AI, Oxfam International and the International by a relatively small number of countries. According to Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) – achieved an authoritative report by the US Congress, 35 some notable successes in 2005. countries exported some 90 per cent of the world’s By the end of the year, about 50 governments had arms in terms of value. By 2005, more than 68 per declared their support for an enforceable international cent of arms exports were going to countries in the Arms Trade Treaty – a key demand of the Control Arms global South. Campaign. An arms control treaty based on Six of the eight G8 countries are among the top 10 international human rights and humanitarian law largest global arms exporters, and all eight export would save lives, prevent suffering and protect large amounts of major conventional weapons or small livelihoods. Costa Rica, Finland, Kenya, Norway and arms to developing countries. A series of loopholes the UK, among others, promised to back the treaty. In and weaknesses in arms export controls, common October, the European Union (EU) Council of Foreign across most G8 countries, meant that the G8’s Ministers called for global support for such a treaty. commitments to poverty reduction, stability and There was considerable backing from governments for human rights were undermined. Arms exports from G8 the UK position that separate UN negotiations on a countries reached some of the world’s poorest and treaty that would cover all conventional arms should most conflict-ridden countries. Such countries begin in late 2006. included Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the At the UN, governments agreed on a global Congo (DRC), the Philippines and Sudan. standard for marking and tracing small arms in In 2005 large quantities of weapons and ammunition October 2005. This went some way towards fulfilling from the Balkans and Eastern Europe continued to flow the proposal put forward by the Control Arms into Africa’s conflict-ridden Great Lakes region. Campaign for a global system to track small arms and Shipments to the DRC continued, despite a peace to hold arms traders accountable. However, not only process initiated in 2002 and a UN arms embargo. did the agreement exclude ammunition, but it was not Weapons and ammunition supplied to the legally binding. governments of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda were subsequently distributed to armed groups and militia in the eastern DRC involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In addition to committing other crimes, these armed groups systematically and brutally raped and sexually abused tens of thousands of women. Arms dealers, brokers and transporters from many countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Israel, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, the UK and the USA were involved in these arms transfers, highlighting once again the key importance of regulating the operations of arms brokers and dealers. By the end of 2005 only about 30 states had laws regulating such brokers. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed using small arms in 2005. In Haiti, for example, small arms were used by armed groups and former soldiers to kidnap, sexually abuse and kill Haitians with impunity. © Jo Wright Without disarmament and effective justice for the victims, Haiti risked sinking further into crisis. A young man displays his weapons outside a favela Women paid a high price for the unregulated trade (shanty town) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The level of in small arms, both in their homes and in their armed violence at the hands of drug gangs, police or communities. The presence of a gun in the household vigilante “death squads” was extremely high, has been shown to vastly increase the risk that especially in the favelas. Although the government violence in the home will have fatal consequences. In took steps to curb the proliferation of small arms, a 2005, the Control Arms Campaign called on referendum in October 2005 over a ban on gun sales governments to address inadequate firearms was defeated. The result was widely attributed to regulations, poor law enforcement and widespread popular anxiety about insecurity and lack of faith in discrimination which put women at heightened risk the police’s ability to provide protection. of violence. 12 Amnesty International Report 2006
  13. 13. GLOBAL OVERVIEW Internally displaced Sudanese children from Mahli village in southern Darfur region collect rainwater to be used for drinking and cooking. In April 2005 they were living in an improvised camp without the most basic facilities. © REUTERS/Moses Muiruri activists and journalists were abducted or murdered. by Palestinian armed groups, as compared to more than During 2005 evidence mounted that the US-led 700 Palestinians and 109 Israelis killed in 2004. multinational forces and foreign private security Atrocities continued in Darfur, Sudan, despite guards committed grave human rights violations, considerable efforts throughout 2005 by the including killing unarmed civilians and torturing international community to reach a political solution prisoners. The failure to mount effective investigations to end the violence. The Sudanese government and its into these abuses and to hold those responsible to allied militias (Janjawid) killed and injured civilians in account undermined claims by the occupying forces bombing raids and attacks on villages, raped women and the transitional authorities that they were and girls, and forced villagers from their lands. Abuses restoring the rule of law in the country. by the opposition armed groups escalated as their The removal of some 8,000 Israeli settlers from the command structures broke down under increased Gaza Strip under the so-called disengagement plan factionalism and in-fighting between rival leaders. The diverted attention from Israel’s continuing expansion violations in Darfur were described by the UN of Israeli settlements and its construction of a 600km Secretary-General and UN agencies as staggering in fence/wall in the occupied West Bank, where some scale and harrowing in nature with widespread and 450,000 Israeli settlers lived in violation of systematic human rights abuses, violations of international law. The presence of Israeli settlements humanitarian law, forced displacement of millions of throughout the West Bank was the main reason for the people and looming hunger. In early 2005 the UN stringent restrictions (military checkpoints and negotiated a peace agreement, raising hopes of a “peace blockades) imposed by the Israeli army on the dividend”. The African Union deployed forces, but their movement of some 2 million Palestinians between mandate to protect civilians was limited and they were towns and villages within the occupied West Bank. further hampered by the relatively small number of These restrictions on freedom of movement paralysed troops deployed and the lack of logistical support. The the Palestinian economy and curtailed Palestinians’ peace did not hold. A UN Commission of Inquiry found access to their land, their places of work, and to that the government and the Janjawid militia were education and health facilities. The resulting increased responsible for crimes under international law and the poverty, unemployment, frustration and lack of case of Darfur was referred by the Security Council to prospects for a predominantly young population the International Criminal Court. Although the contributed to the spiral of violence, both against International Criminal Court began investigations, by Israelis and within Palestinian society, including growing the end of 2005, it had not been granted access to Sudan. lawlessness in the street and violence in the home. Similar patterns were seen in many other conflicts However, the year saw a significant reduction in the that received less international attention during 2005: number of killings by both sides: some 190 Palestinians, targeting of civilians, sexual abuse particularly of including around 50 children, were killed by Israeli women and girls, the use of child soldiers, and a forces, and 50 Israelis, including six children, were killed pattern of impunity. These conflicts were fought in Amnesty International Report 2006 13
  14. 14. GLOBAL OVERVIEW INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE continued to benefit from a national amnesty. AI was 2005 saw some significant developments towards concerned about the composition of the courts and bringing to justice those responsible for crimes under whether the Cambodian judges would have the international law, including genocide, crimes against necessary training and experience, given the serious humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions weaknesses in the Cambodian judicial system. and enforced disappearances. However, there was also National courts in a number of countries also continuing widespread impunity in national courts in contributed to the effort to end impunity by the states where crimes were committed, as well as investigating and prosecuting crimes committed in only limited use of universal jurisdiction by courts in other countries using universal jurisdiction legislation. other states. People were convicted of crimes under international In October, the International Criminal Court (ICC) law in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the announced its first ever arrest warrants for five leaders UK. Canada opened its first case under its universal of the Lord’s Resistance Army for crimes against jurisdiction legislation of 2000, charging Désiré humanity and war crimes committed in northern Munyaneza with genocide, crimes against humanity Uganda. AI called on the ICC and the Ugandan and war crimes committed in 1994 in Rwanda. government to ensure that tens of thousands of other In September, Belgium issued a request for Senegal crimes committed during the conflict were to extradite the former president of Chad, Hissène investigated and prosecuted, including crimes by Habré, to face prosecution for the murder of at least government forces. AI urged the Ugandan government 40,000 people, systematic torture, arbitrary arrests to repeal an amnesty law which prevents Ugandan and other crimes, but Senegal referred the matter to courts from addressing these crimes. the African Union. In November, former Peruvian The ICC continued to investigate crimes committed president Alberto Fujimori was arrested in Chile. He in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but did not had been shielded from prosecution for extrajudicial issue any arrest warrants during 2005. It also executions and “disappearances” by Japan, which undertook preliminary analyses of eight other refused to extradite him to Peru. situations. However, the President and Prosecutor of The long-awaited trial of Saddam Hussain started in the ICC suggested that resource constraints would Iraq in October. Although the opportunity to obtain limit its ability to undertake any new investigations justice for some of the crimes committed under his until the current ones were completed. regime was welcome, AI had serious concerns about While the UN Security Council’s referral to the ICC the lack of fair trial guarantees in the statute of the of crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan, was a positive tribunal, denial of proper access to counsel and the step in addressing impunity, it was disappointing that provision of the death penalty. the Security Council, as part of a compromise to ensure Despite progress on international justice, much more US support, included in its resolution a provision to remained to be done to address impunity. 2005 was the exempt nationals of states not party to the Rome 10th anniversary of the massacre of around 8,000 Statute of the ICC (other than Sudan) from the Bosnian Muslims after the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica jurisdiction of the Court. In AI’s view, this provision fell to the Bosnian Serb Army in 1995. While crimes creates double standards of justice and violates the committed in Srebrenica have been recognized as UN Charter and other international law. amounting to genocide by the International Criminal The struggle against impunity was reinforced by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the women of work of other international and internationalized Srebrenica whose husbands and sons were killed are still courts, notwithstanding some constraints and waiting for most of the perpetrators to be brought to setbacks. The Special Court for Sierra Leone advanced justice. In June, AI voiced concerns to the UN Security in three trials involving nine suspects charged with war Council about its efforts to close the International crimes and crimes against humanity. However, the Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia without Sierra Leone government took no steps to end an establishing effective national courts to deal with the amnesty, part of the 1999 Lomé peace accord, which tens of thousands of crimes that the Tribunal was not prevents prosecution of all others in Sierra Leone able to investigate and prosecute. (There were similar responsible for crimes under international law. concerns over the future of the International Criminal Ignoring calls from the international community, Tribunal for Rwanda.) Nigeria continued, with the apparent support of the At the international level, the courts and tribunals African Union, to refuse to surrender former Liberian require the full support of states, in terms both of president Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra providing resources and of exercising the political will Leone, where he has been charged with crimes against to hand over suspects. At the national level, obstacles humanity and war crimes against the population of to prosecutions, such as amnesties, have to be Sierra Leone. removed, and where national justice systems have Some progress was made in establishing special been destroyed by conflict long-term rebuilding plans courts – Extraordinary Chambers – for Cambodia. are urgently needed. While the increase in universal These were expected to try no more than half a dozen jurisdiction cases in 2005 was welcome, states still people for crimes committed while the Khmer Rouge have to ensure that they do not provide a safe haven were in power, while tens of thousands of others for people accused of crimes under international law. 14 Amnesty International Report 2006
  15. 15. GLOBAL OVERVIEW both urban and rural settings, generally using small committed by the security forces and Maoist groups. arms and light weaponry. Often diverse pockets of Following a mission to Nepal in the immediate violence erupted, with little chain of command or aftermath of the emergency, AI called on the accountability. In some cases, governments armed governments of India, the UK and the USA, Nepal’s civilians in an effort to distance themselves from main arms suppliers, to suspend all military supplies to accountability or culpability for abuses. Nepal until the government took clear steps to halt In Colombia, after 40 years of internal armed human rights violations. It made a similar call to other conflict, serious human rights abuses by all parties governments, including Belgium, Germany, South remained at critical levels. A law was passed Africa and France (which supplied crucial components providing a framework for disarmament and for helicopters assembled and delivered by India). demobilization of paramilitaries and armed groups. However, although some governments responded However, there were fears that the legislation would positively to the appeal for a suspension of military allow the most serious human rights abusers to enjoy supplies, China continued to supply arms and impunity, while human rights violations continued to ammunition to Nepal. be committed in areas where paramilitaries had The failure to resolve manifest injustices, to address supposedly demobilized. In addition, government impunity and to control the spread of arms led to policies designed to reintegrate members of illegal continuing insecurity and violence in many countries armed groups into civilian life risked recycling them trying to emerge from conflict. Even in countries where into the conflict. steps towards peace had been agreed, there was often Despite claims that the situation was normalizing, little political will or rigour to ensure that agreements Russian and Chechen security forces conducted were respected and faithfully implemented. targeted raids in Chechnya during which they In Afghanistan, lawlessness, insecurity and committed serious human rights violations. Women persecution continued to blight the lives of millions of were reportedly subjected to gender-based violence, Afghans. Factional commanders – many suspected of including rape and threats of rape, by Russian and having committed gross human rights crimes in Chechen soldiers. Chechen armed opposition groups previous years – wielded public authority committed abuses including targeted attacks on independently of central government control. Absence civilians and indiscriminate attacks. There was also of the rule of law left many victims of human rights violence and unrest in other North Caucasus violations without redress, and the criminal justice republics, increasingly accompanied by reports of system barely functioned. Thousands of civilians were human rights violations. killed in attacks by US and Coalition Forces and by In Nepal, the human rights situation deteriorated armed groups. sharply under a state of emergency imposed in In Côte d’Ivoire, where a disastrous decline in the February 2005, with thousands of politically motivated economy precipitated a conflict in a country until arrests, strict media censorship and atrocities recently regarded as one of the most stable in West A Bosnian woman cries over the coffin of her son, who was a victim of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre by Bosnian Serb forces. On 11 July 2005, 610 identified victims were buried at a memorial ceremony. Their bodies were among those found in more than 60 mass graves around the town. © REUTERS/Damir Sagolj Amnesty International Report 2006 15
  16. 16. GLOBAL OVERVIEW REFUGEES, ASYLUM-SEEKERS AND internally displaced persons remained unchanged at INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE 25 million in 2004, many of whom had been displaced In recent years, the number of refugees worldwide has for years. States continued to be reluctant to allow fallen significantly, but the reality in 2005 was more international observers to monitor the conditions and complex and far bleaker than the numbers suggested. human rights situation of internally displaced people In 2004, the last year for which figures were in their countries. The UN Secretary-General’s March available, the number of refugees recorded was the 2005 report on the implementation of the Millennium lowest in almost 25 years. The decline in refugee Development Goals, In Larger Freedom, recommended numbers was largely because of the numbers of strengthening the inter-agency response to the refugees who returned to their countries of origin, but protection and assistance needs of internally not all were able to return to their homes and villages displaced people. The resulting new inter-agency of origin, and many returned in conditions that were “cluster approach” promised to deliver greater not voluntary, safe or dignified. accountability, but it remained to be seen whether it In all, more than 5 million refugees were returned – would deliver more predictable, robust and coherent not all voluntarily – to their countries of origin protection to the millions of internally displaced between 2001 and 2004. Many of the returns took people around the world. place to countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, For refugees living in camps, conditions worsened Burundi, Iraq and Liberia where their safety and in 2005, particularly as many faced reductions in dignity could not necessarily be guaranteed. Some food rations – a sign of the failure of the world’s returns breached the fundamental principle of non- governments to fulfil their international obligations refoulement – the cornerstone of international to share the responsibility of protecting and assisting refugee protection – that no one should be returned refugees. This often resulted in an increase in violence against their will to a situation where they would be at against women, including domestic violence, and risk of serious human rights abuse. sexual exploitation of women who were forced to The focus on numbers by both the international exchange sex for food rations as their only means of community and individual governments often led to survival. Refugees continued to be denied freedom of the rights of refugees being disregarded. In many movement outside camps and so were unable to earn countries, asylum-seekers were excluded from seeking a living, raising serious questions about the impact of protection, either physically or by procedures that long-term encampment policies on the rights and failed to provide a fair hearing. In Greece, for example, lives of refugees. In urban settings, many refugees in 2004 just 11 asylum-seekers were recognized as were denied legal status and the right to work, forcing refugees and 3,731 were rejected. The refusal rate in them into destitution or into a dangerous search for fast-track asylum procedures in the UK was 99 per survival elsewhere, sometimes by travelling to other cent. In South Africa some asylum-seekers were countries. arbitrarily deported because of corrupt practices at For governments keen to minimize their obligations refugee reception centres and borders. In China to protect refugees, the rhetoric of the “war on terror” hundreds, possibly thousands, of North Korean provided yet another excuse to increase border asylum-seekers were arrested and expelled with no controls. In many countries, politicians and the media opportunity to claim asylum. fuelled xenophobia and racism, falsely linking While the number of people crossing international refugees with terrorism and criminality and whipping borders in search of protection fell, the number of up hostility towards asylum-seekers. © Refugee Solidarity Committee A container used by the Greek authorities to detain irregular migrants, Chios island, April 2005. 16 Amnesty International Report 2006
  17. 17. GLOBAL OVERVIEW The Israeli wall in al-Ram, near Jerusalem, October 2005. Palestinians were increasingly confined to restricted areas and denied freedom of movement between towns and villages within the Occupied Territories. Many were cut off from their farmlands and their workplaces, and denied access to education and health care facilities. © REUTERS/Mahfouz Abu Turk Africa, easy access to small arms contributed to Polisario Front, which demands independence for violations of the agreed ceasefire, inter-ethnic Western Sahara, released 404 Moroccan prisoners of conflict in the west of the country, xenophobia and war who had been held for well over two decades the ongoing use of child soldiers. Despite efforts by despite the formal cessation of hostilities 14 years ago. the African Union to restore peace and security in the Efforts to overcome impunity moved forward with the country, the disarmament, demobilization and prospect of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leaders being reintegration process remained deadlocked. In brought before the International Criminal Court October, AI publicized reports of small arms charged with war crimes in northern Uganda. proliferation, re-circulation and possible new arms transfers to both sides of the conflict despite a UN- FUELLED BY FEAR: SUFFERING DUE TO IDENTITY imposed arms embargo. The blurring of cultural boundaries often associated In several post-conflict countries the dominant with globalization, far from overcoming deep divisions culture of impunity – the failure to bring to justice based on identity, was accompanied by continued, and those responsible for human rights abuses – fostered some believe increasing, racism, discrimination and continued cycles of violence. In Sri Lanka, for example, xenophobia. Across the world, people were attacked the security situation deteriorated in 2005 as both the and deprived of basic human rights because of their government and the armed opposition failed to make gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and the human rights guarantees in the ceasefire other similar aspects of their identity, or combinations agreement work. Tensions over scarce resources were of these identities. exacerbated by internal displacement resulting from In the context of the “war on terror”, 2005 saw the conflict and the tsunami. continued polarization along identity lines in an The struggle to overcome impunity can last for increasingly intolerant and fearful world. Many decades, or even generations. The survivors of Japan’s people were targeted for discrimination and violence system of military sexual slavery during World War II – because of their identity – Muslims, those identified as the so-called “comfort women” – have persistently Muslims, other minorities, migrants and refugees all called for recognition and justice for more than half a fell victim. Some Muslim communities in Europe and century, their numbers dwindling with time. Once elsewhere said they felt under siege: they feared and again in 2005 the Japanese government refused to abhorred the bombings, but also experienced growing accept responsibility, formally apologize, or provide racism, fostered in part by some governments and official compensation for the suffering endured by media broadly linking the “terrorist threat” with thousands of women. “foreigners” and “Muslims”. On top of this, many There were some exceptions to this generally grim suffered the consequences of counter-terrorism landscape, including elections in a number of states measures that were discriminatory in law and practice emerging from conflict. Greater stability in Sierra as young Muslim males continued to be portrayed as Leone allowed the UN forces to leave the country. The “typical terrorists”. Amnesty International Report 2006 17