Human rights a luxury - HRW

2015-01-29 16:34

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Beirut - Governments increasingly view human rights as "a luxury" they can ill afford, says Human Rights Watch, warning that abuses fuel crises in world trouble spots like Syria and Ukraine.

Western powers, including the United States, are far from blameless and in some cases their wrongdoing has fed the very climate in which serial rights abusers like Islamic State group jihadists thrive.

HRW director Kenneth Roth told reporters in Beirut that ignoring human rights while addressing global security risks "failed to get at the root causes that gave rise to many of these threats."
Even as it seems that "the world is unravelling," he warned, many governments "appear to have concluded that today's serious security threats must take precedence over human rights".

"In this difficult moment, they seem to argue, human rights must be put on the back burner, a luxury for less trying times," Roth said, introducing the 660-page HRW World Report 2015.

Such a calculation is false, Roth insisted.

Digital age

Governments that flout human rights during crises are not only violating international law, but they are also following "short-sighted and counter-productive" strategies, he added.

From Iraq to Syria, Egypt, Nigeria and Ukraine "protecting human rights and enabling people to have a say in how their governments address the crises will be key to their resolution."

"ISIS can now credibly argue that violence is the only path to power for Islamists because when they sought power through fair elections and won, they were ousted with little international protest," Roth said.

Human rights abuses in Russia, which stifled critical voices inside the country over the past two years, and the West's "relatively narrow reaction ... may well have aggravated the Ukrainian crisis."

The need for security in the digital age has also triggered concerns for Human Rights Watch, alarmed by daily data snooping by governments targeting hundreds of millions of people.

Read more on:    human rights watch  |  libya

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