• 3 August 2013


Martin Luther King said:  « Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly».

Amnesty International promotes the protection of human rights around the world . The NGO declares that the human rights situation, in some parts of the world it appears, is  decidedly worrying.

From the reports of Amnesty it’s possible to read : «on October 9, 2012 , in Pakistan, Taliban shouted to Malala Yousafzai’s head, a girl of only fifteen years old . Her fault was that she had invoked the right to education for girls. Her means of communication, a blog. As Mohamed Bouazizi , whose extreme act in 2010 had triggered a cascade effect of protests across the Middle East and North Africa , the determination of Malala has gone far beyond the boundaries of Pakistan. The courage and suffering of the people, and the boundless power of social networks have changed our view of the struggle for the affirmation of human rights , equality and justice, and have resulted in a significant change of the debate surrounding the concept of sovereignty and human rights».

However, Malala’s story has spread all over the world . In every part of the world, in fact, « people took to the streets  (running great personal risk ) people showed there ideas  in the digital sphere , to highlight the repression and violence exercised by governments and other powerful actors. Through blogs , various social media and the mainstream press , people have created a feeling of international solidarity able to revive the memory of Mohamed and dreams of Malala.

This courage – and the ability to communicate our deep hunger for freedom, justice and rights – alarmed the authorities. These expressions of support to those who demonstrated against the oppression and discrimination are strongly in contrast with the actions of many governments that repress peaceful protests and trying to control desperately the sphere of digital communications, restoring even here their national borders» .

Therefore , the NGO asks , «what will it mean for the authorities -who cling to the concept of  sovereignty, and abuse of its meaning-  realize the potential power of people to dismantle the structures of government and to show  instruments of repression and misinformation that authorities use to preserve their power? The economic, political and commercial system, created by authorities, has been often the cause of human rights violations. For example, the trade arms destroys lives but it’s defended by governments, that use force to repress their population , or profit from arms business. Everything is justified in the name of sovereignty ».

Amnesty International invites us to reflect on the concepts of sovereignty and solidarity.

«In this request for freedom, rights and equality, we must rethink about the concept of sovereignty . The strength of sovereignty should – and certainly can – derive from the conquest of their own destiny (as the emerging Countries, created after colonialism or by the reaction to subjugation to neighbour Countries, or created by movements that defied repressive and corrupt regimes). Of course, this is the power of sovereignty. To keep it alive and to limit its exploitation , we need to redefine the concept and recognize both global solidarity is a global responsibility. We are citizens of the world. We may be interested in what happens elsewhere, because we have access to the information and we can choose not to remain in the closed borders.

The states refer regularly to the sovereignty, making it match the control over internal affairs without outside interference , in order to do what they want. They refer to the sovereignty, however, so preposterous , to hide or deny mass killings , genocide, oppression , corruption, starvation or persecution gender .

But those who abuse power and their privileges cannot easily hide these abuses . The people recorded with mobile phones and network load movies that reveal the reality of human rights violations in real time and shed light on the truth beyond the rhetoric hypocritical and self- justifications . Similarly , multinational corporations and other powerful private actors are more easily subject to control because the consequences of their actions , no matter how devious or criminals, are now difficult to hide.

We operate a system of human rights that takes for granted the concept of sovereignty , but which in fact defended him , even after the formulation of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect , agreed during a World Summit of the United Nations in 2005, and repeatedly reaffirmed since then. It is easy to see why; even in 2012 there have been many examples of governments that have violated the rights of the people they govern.

A key element of the protection of human rights is the right of all people and to be free from violence . Another key element is given by the strong limits the ability of the state to interfere in our lives and that of our family. This includes the protection of our freedom of expression , association and conscience. It also means not to interfere with our body and with the ways in which we employ , or with the decisions we make in terms of reproduction , sexual and gender identity and the way we choose to dress .

In the early days of 2012, 300 families were left homeless in the capital of Cambodia, Phonm Penh , after being evicted by force from their neighborhood. Only a few weeks later , 600 Brazilians went out to meet the same fate in Pinheirinho slum , in the state of Sao Paulo. In March , Jamaica 21 people were killed in a series of shootings by police in Azerbaijan musicians have been beaten, arrested and tortured in detention and Mali faced a crisis following a coup in the capital Bamako.

And so on: the other forced evictions were carried out in Nigeria; journalists have been killed in Somalia , Mexico and elsewhere; women have been raped or sexually assaulted in the home , on the street or while exercising their right to demonstrate ; LGBTI people were severely beaten while in their communities has been prevented from participating in the events of Pride ; human rights activists were killed or sent to prison for false accusations . In September, for the first time in 15 years , Japan has put a woman to death . In November there was a new escalation of the conflict between Israel and Gaza, while the Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes when the armed group March 23 Movement (M23 ), supported by Rwanda , marched on capital of the province of North Kivu .

And then there was Syria. At year-end , according to the UN deaths amounted to 60,000 , and the number was growing , unfortunately ».

In the words of the NGO , there would be a gap in the protection of human rights.

“Too often – in fact – in the last few decades , the sovereignty of states , more and more closely linked to the concept of national security, has been used to justify acts contrary to human rights. At the domestic level , those in power claim to be the only ones who can make decisions about the life of the people they govern.

As his father had done before him , President Bashar al-Assad has remained in power by putting the army and Syrian security forces against the people who asked him to leave. But there is a fundamental difference . At the time of the massacre of Hama in 1982 , despite Amnesty International and others have pointed out what was going on and worked tirelessly to try to end it , the mass killings had taken place largely out of sight of the rest of the world. On the contrary , over the past two years, the brave Syrian bloggers and activists were able to directly tell the world what was happening in their country, even at the very moment it was happening .

Despite the increasing number of victims , and despite the many trials of the crimes committed , once again in the Security Council of the United Nations has failed to protect civilians. For nearly two years the military and the Syrian security forces have launched indiscriminate attacks and detained , tortured and killed people because they suspected of supporting the rebels. An Amnesty International has documented 31 different forms of torture and other ill-treatment . Armed opposition groups have also committed summary executions and torture, although more limited in scope . The inaction of the Security Council of the United Nations is defended , particularly by Russia and China , in the name of respect for the sovereignty of the Syrian state .

The idea that neither individual states nor the international community should intervene in a decisive manner to protect civilians when governments and their security forces are targeting their own people , unless there is a gain them , it is quite unacceptable. Whether it’s the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the deadly ” no fire zone ” in which circumscribe the Tamils ​​in northern Sri Lanka , where thousands of civilians were killed in 2009, the starvation afflicting the people of North Korea or Syrian conflict , the inertia in the name of respect for the sovereignty of a state has no excuse.

Ultimately , the states are responsible for the affirmation of the rights of persons within their territory . Who cares about justice and human rights can not claim that sovereignty is at the moment in any way to serve these principles but rather it is an obstacle to their achievement.

Really it is time to challenge this destructive mix of references to their absolute sovereignty of the states and to the interest of national security, rather than to the human rights and safety of the population . We have no more excuses. It is now time for the international community to come forward and come back to take charge of his duty to protect all citizens of this planet.

Our countries have the obligation to respect , protect and fulfill our rights. Many do not , or at most they do so inconsistently. Despite all the successes in recent decades the movement for human rights, the release of prisoners of conscience in the global prohibition of torture and the creation of the International Criminal Court, this distortion of the concept of sovereignty means to continue to leave millions of people “.

Amnesty International continues the discussion of the problematic situation of human rights protection .

“One of the best examples of this situation that has arisen in recent decades is the treatment of native peoples in the world. A core value shared by the native communities around the world is their rejection of the concept of “ownership ” of the land . In contrast, traditionally identify themselves as custodians of the land on which they live. This rejection of the concept of owning land was paid for dearly . Many lands inhabited by the natives turned out to be rich in deposits and resources. So the government , which would protect their rights , appropriates their lands in the name of ” sovereign state ” , then sells , gives concessions or permits their exploitation by third parties .

Instead of respecting the value of the communities who are the custodians of the land and its resources , the states and the multinationals come in these areas, hunt with the strength of the native communities and seize ownership of the land or mineral rights associated with it .

In Paraguay , the sawhoyamaxa spent 2012 as well as have spent the last 20 years, displaced from their ancestral lands , despite a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of 2006, which had recognized their right to those lands. Further north, dozens of First Nations communities in Canada have continued to oppose the proposal to build an oil pipeline linking the tar sands of Alberta to the coast of British Columbia, through their ancestral lands .

At a time when governments should learn from native communities to rethink their relationship with the natural resources , the native peoples around the world are under siege.

What makes this particularly alarming devastation is the extent to which states and corporations ignore the UN Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples , which states explicitly that states are to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in all matters that affect them. Activists of the rights of indigenous peoples at risk of being victims of violence or even killed when they try to defend their communities and their lands .

Discrimination , exclusion and violence are not phenomena limited to the region of the Americas , it affects every part of the globe , from the Philippines to Namibia , where in 2012 the children of the people St. , Ovahimba and other ethnic minorities have encountered numerous obstacles that have prevented them from l ‘ access to education. This occurs particularly in Opuwo , Ovahimba among children who were forced to cut their hair and do not wear their traditional dress to attend public school . ”

The motivation behind all the problems, however, is not merely the race for resources . According to a statement from Amnesty International , in fact, another aspect of the problem is “the flow of capital across borders , across oceans , to enter into the pockets of the powerful. Certainly, globalization has brought economic growth and prosperity for some, but the experience of Native remains out of this growth in those communities , governments and multinational companies looking to profit from the land on which they live and which die of starvation . ”

In Africa Sub-Saharan Africa , for example, “despite the significant growth in many countries, millions of people continue to live in poverty, struggling to survive . Corruption and the flow of funds in tax havens outside of Africa continue to be two of the main reasons . The mineral wealth of the region continues to fuel business between corporations and politicians , from which both benefit ; but at what price ? The lack of transparency on concession agreements and the total absence of determination of liability translate nell’indebito enrichment of the shareholders of multinational corporations and politicians on the one hand and the other in the suffering of those who experience the exploitation of their labor, the degradation of their land and violation of their rights. Justice is definitely out of their reach . ”

“Another example of the free flow of capital – the NGO complaint – is the money that migrant workers send home all over the world . According to the World Bank, remittances from migrant workers from developing countries correspond to three times the funds of international development assistance. And yet, during the same year these migrant workers were often left without a home and without adequate protection of their rights by the host states .

Employment agencies to work in Nepal , for example, in 2012 have continued to trade migrant workers to exploitation and forced labor, and they charged higher costs than the price caps imposed by the government , forcing workers to resort to costly low-interest loans high interest . The owners of the agencies have deceived many migrants about the terms and conditions of employment , but these structures, which have violated the laws of Nepal , were rarely punished . For example , a law that defends only in words the rights of women , in August , the government has banned women under the age of 30 to migrate to work as domestic servants in Kuwait, Qatar , Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to because of allegations of sexual abuse and other physical abuse in those countries. But the ban has potentially increased the risk for women who are forced to seek employment through unofficial channels . What he should do was worry about the government ensure their safe working environments .

Once you have started , the states from which these people claim to have no more obligations to them , since migrant workers are no longer within their territory, while host states argue that since they are not their citizens have no rights. Meanwhile , the United Nations International Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families, whose membership was opened in 1990 , remains one of the human rights treaties it has collected less ratifications. None was receiving in Western Europe has ratified the Convention. Nor did other hosting many immigrants as the U.S., Australia , Canada, India , South Africa and the Gulf states .

This vulnerability takes on proportions even more relevant to the refugees. The most vulnerable are the 12 million stateless people around the world, a number equivalent to the population of some of the major cities such as London , Lagos or Rio . For about 80 per cent are women . In the absence of the protection of their state “sovereign” these people are true citizens of the world . Their protection concerns us all. They represent the quintessential realization of the duty to protect . Since the protection of human rights must be applied to all human beings , who are in their home or not.

Right now , this protection is perceived as subject to the sovereignty of the state. In refugee camps in South Sudan , women are raped , from Australia to Kenya asylum seekers are locked up in detention centers or metal containers , hundreds die while aboard barges crumbling desperately trying to reach a safe harbor.

During the year , once again struggling African boats off the Italian coast have been removed from the salvation of European beaches , because the states argued that the control of their borders were sacrosanct. The Australian Government has continued to interdict at sea boats of refugees and migrants . The U.S. Coast Guard has defended its practice thus : ” interdict migrants at sea means they can quickly refer back to their countries of origin , without the costly procedures that need to be taken when they are able to enter the United States .” In each of these cases , sovereignty has had the better of the right of individuals to seek asylum.

Each year about 200 people die trying to cross the desert to reach the United States , a direct consequence of the measures taken by the U.S. government to ensure that the steps are completely impassable safer for migrants. Their number has remained stable despite a decline in immigration.

These examples represent the most atrocious abandonment of responsibility to promote human rights , including the right to life, and are in stark contrast to the free flow of capital mentioned earlier.

The immigration controls are in stark contrast with the mostly undisturbed flow of conventional weapons across borders , including small arms and light weapons . Hundreds of thousands of people are killed, injured , raped and forced to flee their homes because of this trade. The arms trade is also closely related to discrimination and gender-based violence , which affects women disproportionately . This has far-reaching implications on efforts to consolidate peace , security, gender equality and safe development . The abuses are fueled in part by the ease with which weapons are bought and sold , bartered and shipped around the world , too often ending up in the hands of governments abusers and their security forces, warlords and gangs criminals. It is a lucrative business , amounting to 70 billion U.S. dollars per year , and therefore those who have vested interests seeking to avoid regulation. As we write this text , the governments main arms brokers are preparing to start talks on a treaty on the arms trade [ just before going to press, the treaty was approved , NdC ] . Our request is that if there is a substantial risk that these weapons will be used to commit violations of international humanitarian law or serious violations of human rights standards , the transfer should be prohibited . ”

The very positive aspect that can be drawn from these examples, however, is that we are aware of their existence. For half a century , Amnesty International documented the violations of human rights in the world and employs every resource available to try to stop and prevent abuses and protect our rights. The global communication is creating opportunities that were once unimaginable to the founders of the modern human rights movement .

“The speed with which new forms of communication are taking hold in our life leaves you breathless. Since 1985 , the year in which it was created the first domain . Com, up to date, with two and a half billion people who have access to the Internet , the wheels of change have shot with extraordinary speed . In 1989 , Tim Berners -Lee proposed the system of documentary research on the Internet, was born in 1996, Hotmail , blogs appeared in 1999, Wikipedia was launched in 2001. Came in 2004 with Facebook , followed by YouTube a year later, when the Internet reached its billionth user , identified as ” statistically in a woman of 24 years in Shanghai.” The year 2006 was the time of Twitter and censored Chinese version of Google, Gu Ge . In 2008, China had more people online in the USA . And in the same year , some activists developed in collaboration with Kenyan journalists a website called Ushahidi , a Swahili word that means ” testimony ” , initially to draw a map of the violence in Kenya after the elections , and since then has evolved into a platform used worldwide with a mission to ” democratize information” .

We live in a world where the news abound. Activists have the tools to ensure that the violations are not hidden . The information creates an obligation to act . We face a crucial time : we will continue to have access to this information or states in collusion with the other powerful actors will block ? Amnesty International wants to make sure everyone has the tools to be able to access and share information and to challenge the power and sovereignty , when there are abuses. With the Internet , we can build a model of global citizenship . Internet is a counterpoint to the whole concept of sovereignty and citizenship based on rights.

The concept that Martin Luther King Jr. expressed so effectively with the phrases ” network of mutuality which you can not escape ” and ” tied to a single fate,” has been embraced and promoted by many great thinkers and defenders of rights before and after of him. But now is the moment of truth in instillarlo “fabric” of our model of international citizenship . The African concept of “Ubuntu” I express very clearly : “I am because we are .”

It’s about being connected to each other , without allowing the boundaries , the walls , the seas , the representations of the enemy identified with the “other ” pollute our natural sense of justice and humanity. This is how the digital world really connects us with the information . ”

The NGO best explains these concepts : ” the opening of the digital world levels the playing field and enables many more people to access the information they need to challenge governments and corporations. It is a tool that encourages transparency and the determination of liability. Information is power . The Internet has the potential to offer significantly this power to the seven billion people inhabiting the world today. It is a tool that allows us to see and document and combat human rights violations are happening everywhere . It also allows us to share information so that we can work together to solve problems, promote human security and development of each individual and fulfill the promise of human rights.

The abuse of state sovereignty is the opposite of all this. It covers the walls, the control of information and communication and hide behind obscure state laws and other claims of privilege . The argument put forward to support the call for sovereignty that is what a government is not anyone’s interest except to the government and , as long as it acts within its borders , it can not be disputed. These are the actions of the powerful against the powerless .

The strength and potential of the digital world are immense. And because the technology has value neutral , these potentials can lead either to actions consistent with the establishment of societies that respect human rights actions is completely antithetical to human rights . ”

It is interesting to Amnesty International , whose story is born from the defense of freedom of expression , ” once again see how they behave when governments are unable to control it and decide to manipulate access to information. Never was this more evident than in the persecution and harassment of bloggers, from Azerbaijan to Tunisia , from Cuba to the Palestinian Authority . In Vietnam, for example, the popular blogger Nguyen Van Hai, known as Dieu Cay, the blogger of ” justice and truth ” Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai, known as AnhBaSaiGo , were tried in September for having ” made ​​propaganda ” against the state . They were sentenced respectively to 12 , 10, and four years in prison and, once released, three to five years of house arrest . The process took just a few hours and their families were harassed and detained to prevent them from participating. The prosecution against them was postponed three times, the last of which because Ta Phong Tan ‘s mother had died after setting herself on fire in front of government offices to protest against the treatment of his daughter .

But sending people to prison for exercising their freedom of expression and contesting the holders of power by using digital technology is only the first line of defense of governments. More and more often we see were trying to build security programs around any system of communication or information . Iran, China and Vietnam have all tried to build a system that would allow them to regain control of both the communications both on access to information available in the digital sphere.

But what could become even more worrying is the number of countries that are exploring less obvious means of control in this area, through a massive surveillance , and increasingly sophisticated means of handling access to information. The U.S. , which continue to demonstrate a significant lack of compliance with the parameters of recognition, as evidenced by the drone attacks carried out in various parts of the world, have recently proclaimed the right to exercise supervision on any information held in the cloud systems of conservation data , digital storage places not linked to territorial domains . In practice, this involves checking information owned by individuals and companies that are not established in the United States or who are U.S. citizens . ”

Amnesty International provides : ” this battle on access to and control of the media is only the beginning. What can the international community do to show his respect for those who have so bravely risked their lives and their freedom , mobilizing during uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa ? What can we all do to show our solidarity to Malala Yousafzai and all the others who have dared to stand up and say “Enough ” ?

We ask that states ensure to all individuals within their territory a significant access to the digital world , preferably through a high-speed connection to the Internet , and we really reliable, whether it is a portable device , like a cell phone , a computer that fixed . In this way , would achieve one of the principles of human rights enshrined in art. 15 ICESCR : ” enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications .” And art. 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to participate freely in cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits ” .

A significant access to the Internet certainly qualifies as a participation in the benefits of scientific progress . “