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Amnesty International Human Rights Report: 'We Are Seeing a Catastrophe' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In its annual report released on Thursday, Amnesty International scolds China and the United States for human rights violations. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, AI head Irene Khan warns that the global economic crisis is leading Western governments to put the push for universal human rights on the back burner.

 Amnesty International warns that the global financial crisis is distracting governments and that humanitarian crises and human rights issues are being put on the back burner. SPIEGEL ONLINE: The past year has been totally dominated by the global recession. That's even reflected in your annual report. How has it affected the human rights situation around the world?

Khan: We are seeing a catastrophe. After years of going down, the number of people in poverty is growing again. We saw social uprisings across Africa and China -- and very harsh repression by governments that left many protesters dead. Food shortages allowed several governments, among others Zimbabwe and North Korea, to use food as a political weapon.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Could that have been prevented?

Khan: Leading governments have been distracted by the recession. Humanitarian crises, like in Darfur and Palestine, do not get the attention they deserve. The poorest are hardest hit by the economic crisis, but all the thought and investment goes to shore up the economy and the banking system in the West. Human rights are put on a backburner.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is it surprising to you that Western politicians think of their own countries first?

by Fran on Thu May 28th, 2009 at 11:49:35 AM EST
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