Human Rights Watch report | A difficult (year) for human rights

Civilians targeted, opponents hunted down, freedoms violated: the year 2023 was “terrifying” for human rights, according to Human Rights Watch. And a system of double standards contributes to impunity, denounced the organization, which published its annual report on the situation in 100 countries on Thursday. Highlights.




Israel and Gaza

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The year 2023 is the year when the most civilians have been targeted, attacked and killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip in recent history, HRW recalls in its report.

“The threat to our common humanity is everywhere,” commented HRW Executive Director Tirana Hassan in a videotaped press conference. She gives the example of the resurgence of hostilities in the Middle East following the “terrifying assault” by Hamas in Israel. War crimes that do not overshadow those of Israel, she insists. HRW also welcomes the procedure at the International Court of Justice, which must determine whether genocide was committed against the Palestinians in Gaza. “The situation on the ground is serious enough to merit careful examination,” Mr.me Hassan.

Ukraine and Russia

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The year 2023 was also marked by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, the devastating consequences of which could be felt for years.

The second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is fast approaching. In recent weeks, bombings have intensified in the country. “Over the years, Russian forces have committed war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine,” commented Rachel Denber, deputy Europe director at HRW. She cites attacks on civilians and the use of torture against occupied populations. The year 2023 was also marked by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, the devastating consequences of which could be felt for years.

Sudan

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Since the outbreak of war between two rival generals last April, more than 12,000 people have died in Sudan, according to the NGO Acled.

“The conflict that doesn’t make the headlines is that of Sudan,” lamented M.me Hassan. The human suffering we see in Darfur is immense. » Since the outbreak of war between two rival generals last April, more than 12,000 people have died in Sudan, according to the NGO Acled – a toll which could be largely underestimated. The resumption of hostilities was however predictable, due to lack of obligation to answer for past crimes, according to HRW. “Darfur is the most illustrative example of what could happen in 2024 if governments do not start taking accountability seriously,” warned Ms.me Hassan.

Beyond borders

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The Canadian Sikh community demonstrated across the country following the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The rate of transnational repression has reached an “alarming” level, writes HRW. Governments hunt down dissidents or critics of their regime in other countries. The murder of a Sikh leader in British Columbia sparked widespread reactions after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited “credible” information about a “potential link” between the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar and the Indian government. The HRW report also cites the governments of Rwanda and China as regimes willing to intimidate and silence their opponents outside their borders.

China

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Pro-democracy activists face repression from the Chinese government in Hong Kong.

Repression has increased in China, with “abusive policies against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang that constitute crimes against humanity,” notes the HRW report. The government exercises tight control over its population. It imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 – and prosecutions launched under this provision had a 100% conviction rate at the time of HRW’s report. “More and more, we see a stifling of Hong Kong and its activists,” remarked Mr.me Hassan.

Afghanistan

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Violations of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan raise concerns.

Women and girls are facing an increasingly difficult situation in Afghanistan. Recent arrests and arbitrary detentions for alleged violations of the Taliban’s dress code are worrying the United Nations mission in the country, which raised the alarm on Thursday. Women were arrested last week for wearing the “wrong hijab”. If the persecution of women, LGBTQ+ people or minorities is significant in this country in humanitarian crisis, Mme Hassan remains hopeful, noting acts of resilience by activists.

“Selective outrage”

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Indian police officers arrest a Muslim resident of Kashmir during a religious procession in Srinagar.

Too many governments modulate their indignation at human rights violations according to alliances and interests, denounces HRW. “Selective outrage sends the message that the lives and dignity of certain peoples are more important than those of others,” said Ms.me Hassan. In its report, HRW cites growing repression in India, where the situation has deteriorated for minorities and freedom of expression. But faced with economic interest, leaders do not hesitate to roll out a red carpet for Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Canada

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Onlookers watch the McDougall Creek wildfire from the shore of West Kelowna, British Columbia.

Canada is one of the 100 countries studied. With its high greenhouse gas emissions, it contributes to the climate crisis, which impacts human rights elsewhere in the world. He must also do more against Canadian companies that benefit from human rights violations abroad, whether in mines or in factories suspected of using forced labor of Uyghurs in China, notes the report, also raising challenges for respecting the rights of First Nations.

With Agence France-Presse


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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