Amnesty International has launched its 2016/17 report and warns that global solidarity and public mobilisation will be particularly important to defend individuals who stand up to those in power and defend human rights.
The individuals are often cast by governments as a threat to economic development, security or other priorities.
Launching the report in Accra yesterday, the Board Chairman of Amnesty International Ghana, Mr George Aggrey, said the world faced a long list of crisis, with little political will to address them.
He said the international community had already responded with a deafening silence after countless atrocities the 2016, notable among them being the live stream of horror from Aleppo, thousands of people killed by police in The Philippines, war on drugs, use of chemical weapons and hundreds of villages burned in Darfur.
New World order
Mr Aggrey said “a new world order where human rights are portrayed as a barrier to national interests makes the ability to tackle the mass atrocities dangerously low, leaving the door open to abuses of the darkest times of human history”.
The report documented grave violations of human rights in 159 countries in 2016 and indicated that people were killed for peacefully standing up for human rights in 22 countries in the year including those targeted for challenging entrenched economic interests, defending minorities and small communities or opposing traditional barriers to womens rights.
Twenty-three war crimes were committed in at least 23 countries, while 36 countries illegally sent refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk and 22 other countries also saw people killed for peacefully standing up for human rights.
The Secretary General of Amnesty International, Mr Salil Shetty, observed that “the beginning of 2017 finds many of the world’s most powerful states pursuing narrower national interests at the expense of international cooperation. This risk is taking us towards a more chaotic and dangerous world”.
He said it was time for all to stand up and defend their rights, as they could not rely on politicians or governments to protect their freedoms but had to come together and protect the fundamental human rights and freedom of all.
The Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Hamid, in a speech read on his behalf, said the world had agreed that authoritarianism was not the way to go, as countries around the world were all choosing the way of democracy, and added that Ghana had, since 1992, been on the path of democracy.
Mr Hamid indicated that Article 5 of the 1992 Constitution guaranteed the fundamental human rights of all persons, irrespective of race, religion, gender or physical disability.
He added that Ghana had signed onto many United Nations Human Rights conventions which made it committed to internationally accepted standards in human rights practices.
He said the government intended to continue in that tradition of respect for fundamental human rights and to make the welfare of the people the central basis of all that it would do.
The Information Minister gave an assurance that the NPP government would support the work of Amnesty International as it set about to protect the dignity of human beings.