Holy See censured by Amnesty for human rights

AMNESTY International’s 50th anniversary report has censured the Holy See over human rights obligations for the first time — treating it just like any other state.

Published yesterday, the report highlights the enduring failure of the Catholic Church — and the Pope — to address crimes of child abuse.

Such failures include not removing alleged perpetrators from their posts pending full investigations, not co-operating with judicial authorities to bring them to justice and not ensuring proper reparation to victims.

The report chronicles human rights abuses across the globe, but also celebrates a “human rights revolution” across the Middle East and North Africa in recent months.

Executive director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman said the movements could change the world.

“People are rejecting fear. Courageous men and women, led largely by young people, are standing up against oppression in the face of bullets, beatings, tear gas and tanks,” he said.

“This bravery, combined with new technology that is helping activists to outflank and expose suppression of free speech, is sending a signal to repressive governments that their days are numbered.”

However, governments in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen have shown a willingness to beat, maim or kill peaceful protestors to stay in power.

O’Gorman said: “Even where dictators have fallen, as in Egypt, the institutions that supported them still need to be dismantled.”

“Repressive governments like China, Iran and Azerbaijan are trying to prevent similar revolutions in their countries.”

Thousands of human rights defenders were threatened, imprisoned, tortured and killed in countries worldwide, including Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia and more, according to the report.

O’Gorman said: “Despite iconic moments last year such as the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, there is a serious fight-back from those governments ready to abuse their own people to stay in power.

“The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights.”


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