Amnesty reaffirms human rights commitments

21 August 2007 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Amnesty International, Human rights, Irene Khan, Sydney Peace Prize | Leave a comment

At the concluding session of Amnesty International’s 28th International Council Meeting , the international human rights group reaffirmed its commitments to tackle poverty and disparity as the gravest global threats to universal human rights.

More than 400 delegates from 75 countries participated in Amnesty’s two-yearly forum to plan, review and decide the organization’s human rights work.

“The human rights challenges of a world divided by inequality, impunity and poverty call for courageous and broad based human rights defence,” said Amnesty’s Secretary General Irene Khan.

“People living in poverty have the least access to the power needed to shape policies that may eradicate poverty and frequently are denied effective remedies for violations of their human rights,” the 2006 Sydney Peace Prize recipient said.

Khan said the organisation will continue to “stay true to its mission of standing up for the marginalized” by working for the release of prisoners of conscience or prisoners of poverty, prejudice and violence.


Khan: China risks tarnishing its Olympic legacy

8 August 2007 at 10:52 am | Posted in Amnesty International, Death penalty, Human rights, Irene Khan, Sydney Peace Prize | Leave a comment

With just a year to go till the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Amnesty International has released a report, The Olympics countdown – one year left to fulfil human rights promises, taking China to tasks on its human rights record.

“Unless the Chinese authorities take urgent measures to stop human rights violations over the coming year, they risk tarnishing the image of China and the legacy of the Beijing Olympics,” said Irene Khan, secretary-general of Amnesty International and 2006 Sydney Peace Prize recipient. She added:

“The ongoing serious human rights violations in China constitute an affront to core principles in the Olympic Charter relating to the ‘preservation of human dignity’ and ‘respect for universal fundamental ethical principles’. The IOC must promote a positive legacy of the Olympics built on respect for human rights and rule of law.

“With just one year to go, time is running out before the Beijing Olympic Games are irreversibly tarnished by the China’s lack of respect for human rights. The Chinese authorities must press ahead with their promises to improve human rights so that when August 2008 arrives the Chinese people can be proud in every respect of what their country has to offer the world.”

Click here to read the full report.

Khan defends Amnesty’s abortion policy, urges Mexico to protect human rights

2 August 2007 at 10:34 am | Posted in Amnesty International, Human rights, Irene Khan, News, Sydney Peace Prize | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan said that the international human rights group will neither endorse nor disapprove of its policy which supports abortion for women subject to sexual violence, rape or incest.

Khan, the 2006 Sydney Peace Prize recipient, said the policy was inspired by rapes in war zones, Reuters reported. Khan also urged governments to provide safe abortions for women who got preganant as a result of rape, incest or when her life is threatened.

The Roman Catholic Church has urged Amnesty to reverse its decision, threatening to withdraw all support for the group.

Khan said Amnesty’s policy was consistent with the group’s long-standing campaign against violence towards women. She added that  the policy “doesn’t mean that we are in favour of abortion as a right”.

“A policy has been made … that Amnesty should support women to be able to make the decision to terminate pregnancy without fear of violence in these limited cases of sexual violence or where the life of the mother or her health is very seriously threatened,” Reuters quoted Khan as saying.

Separately, the Sydney Peace Prize recipient has also called on the Mexican government to investigate suspected torture and abductions by state officials that took place in the Mexican city of Oaxaca last year.

Khan also said Mexico had failed to protect human rights.

Khan tells Zimbabwe to stop the brutality

26 July 2007 at 10:44 am | Posted in Amnesty International, Human rights, Irene Khan, News, Sydney Peace Prize, Zimbabwe | Leave a comment

A recent Amnesty International study revealed that women who oppose Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe are suffering increasing violence and repression.

“The Zimbabwean government needs to address the underlying economic and social problems that are motivating women to protest — rather than attacking them and criminalising their legitimate activities in defence of human rights,” said 2006 Sydney Peace Prize recipient Irene Khan. Khan is the Secretary General of Amnesty International. 

Khan called on African leaders to increase their pressure on Mugabe to “immediately stop the intimidation, ill-treatment, torture and harassment of critics of government policies”.

Click here to see the full report –  Zimbabwe: Between a rock and a hard place – women human rights defenders at risk.

Global Compact needs to be strengthened: Khan

9 July 2007 at 10:41 am | Posted in Amnesty International, Human rights, Irene Khan, News, Sydney Peace Prize, United Nations | Leave a comment

2005 Sydney Peace Prize recipient Irene Khan has called for the United Nations Compact to be strengthened.

At the recently concluded Global Compact Leadership Summit, Khan acknowledged the significance of the Global Compact, but asked if the Compact’s “great potential to advance corporate social responsibility, including the protection of human rights…is being fully realised”?

“It is not enough for the Compact simply to teach and to insist on transparency and disclosure, and then let things be. It is easy to sign-up to principles when no-one will hold you accountable for implementing them,” the Amnesty International Secretary General said in her address. “The Global Compact needs to find ways to hold participants accountable for upholding its principles.”

The UN Global Compact is an initiative to “bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles”. It was launched in July 2000. Its aim was to include the private sector in promoting responsible corporate citizenship in achieving a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.

The Yogyakarta Principles

2 April 2007 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Human rights, Mary Robinson, News, Sydney Peace Prize | Leave a comment

Former High Commissioner for Human Rights and 2002 Sydney Peace Prize recipient Mary Robinson was among the 29 human rights experts who drafted the Yogyakarta Principles.

The document reinterpretes 29 existing international human rights laws to include homosexual rights. Among the rights are the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to employment, the right to life, the right to privacy and the right to security.

The Principles were launched in Geneva last week after having been adopted in November 2006.

Guardian editorial on the next step forward.

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