“A new world order where human rights are portrayed as a barrier to national interests makes the ability to tackle mass atrocities dangerously low, leaving the door open to abuses reminiscent of the darkest times of humanity.” – Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.
In its annual report on the state of human rights in the world, Amnesty International warned against a global regression in human rights due to toxic fear mongering by anti-establishment politicians.
Amnesty International’s report on the world in 2016
In the 408-page report, Amnesty described 2016 as “the year when the cynical use of ‘us versus them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s.” The 1930s saw the rise of fascism and extremist governments across the world following the Great Depression, especially Europe.
“From the worsening plight of refugees around the world to mass unlawful killings, from the vicious crackdowns on dissenting voices to the rise of hate speech across Europe and the USA, the world in 2016 became a darker and more unstable place.”
Highlighting the growth of populism and mass disillusionment with establishment politics, Amnesty warned that the world’s response to gross human rights violations was insufficient or thoroughly absent.
“Despite the lessons of the past, human dignity and equality came under relentless assault from powerful forces of blame, fear and scapegoating, spread by those who sought to hold power at almost any cost … This could have disastrous consequences given the already pitiful global response to mass atrocities in 2016, with the world standing by as events in Aleppo, Darfur and Yemen unfolded.”
The entire report can be read here.
Amnesty International’s report on India in 2016
These were the main points covered in Amnesty’s report on India in 2016:
- Abuses by armed groups
Amnesty warned against armed insurgent groups in central India, the Northeast, and Kashmir. The report highlighted the violence perpetrated by Maoists, groups like the Jaish-E-Mohammed in Kashmir, and extremists in Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya.
- Caste-based discrimination and violence
45,000 crimes against members of Scheduled Castes and almost 11,000 crimes against Scheduled Tribes were reported in 2015. And crimes against Dalits and tribals continued throughout 2016. Amnesty commended the government’s Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules which ensures relief mechanisms available to victims of caste-based violence.
- Children’s rights
Reports of crimes against children in 2015 rose by 5% compared with the previous year and the move to decrease the age limit when it comes to juvenile justice cases was deemed as counterproductive.
- Communal and ethnic violence
The violence caused by cow protection groups was highlighted. Cases of vigilante justice by communal groups was decried, while the beef ban was deemed as anti-democracy. Additionally, the instances of violence and discrimination against black foreigners in India was criticised.
- Freedom of expression
As mentioned in the report, “Regressive laws continued to be used to persecute people who legitimately exercised their right to freedom of expression.” Amnesty took issue with the sedition law (Section 124(A) of the IPC) in particular.
- Human rights defenders
Journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists were harassed and attacked in the past year. In this context, Amnesty highlighted the names of journalists like Malini Subramaniam, Santosh Yadav, author Durai Guna, and Irom Sharmila.
- Jammu and Kashmir
The death of Burhan Wani, the ensuing protests, the curfew, and the clampdown on local journalism were mentioned in the report.
- Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
“In February, the Supreme Court referred to a larger bench a petition challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises consensual same-sex relations. In June, five people who identified themselves as members of the LGBTI community filed another petition in the Supreme Court asking for Section 377 to be struck down.”
- Violence against women and girls
Reported crimes against women and girls continued to rise. Over 327,000 crimes against women were registered in 2015. Women from marginalised communities continued to face systemic discrimination, making it harder for them to report sexual or other forms of violence.
The entire India report can be read here.