|Hilversum, 27. May.2010
Despite progress, a justice gap still exists in the world, according to Amnesty International. In its annual assessment of human rights worldwide, released today, Amnesty calls for all countries to sign up to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Amnesty spokesperson Tom Mackey told RNW that the justice gap manifests itself in the way in which people not only escape criminal justice, but also in a number of other ways that force people to end up staying in poverty or in the discrimination against women.
“We are concerned that far too many perpetrators of crimes against humanity are getting away by not being brought to justice, and that governments are also failing in the implementation of rights such as the right to health, the right to education, and by not providing proper access to justice for people to claim those rights."A landmark year
But it’s not all bad news, with Amnesty calling 2009 “a landmark year for international justice”.
The report points to the trials of former Latin American leaders like Alberto Fujimori of Peru and Reynaldo Bignone of Argentina. At the same time, it celebrates the first indictment of a sitting head of state [President Omar al Bashir of Sudan] by the ICC.
These developments are signals that no one is above the law, says Mackey. “But of course, we saw misguided reactions from the African Union, who refused to cooperate with the ICC, and also in countries like Sri Lanka, which avoided any scrutiny and any accountability for the final phases of its war against the Tamil Tigers, where both sides committed serious abuses”.
The report calls on all nations to sign the Rome Statute and become part of the ICC. Seven countries in the G20 have not yet done so, including China and the United States.
“The US used to be very strenuously opposed to the Court, but then they accepted that the ICC should have a role in Sudan. So the prospect of the United States and other countries joining the ICC is not so far-fetched”, Mackey believes.
And there’s another, more immediate way in which Amnesty is pushing governments for action. The organisation is appealing to the world leaders who will be meeting in September to review the Millennium Development Goals ‘’to make sure that these goals turn from political aspirations to legally enforceable rights.”
Looking at the big picture, he believes there are many reasons to be hopeful.
“One hundred and eleven countries have joined the ICC, and we have tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. So there is progress, and we want to pay tribute to the many Human Rights defenders around the world that are part of this fight for justice.”