Posts Tagged ‘Irene Khan’

Amnesty says end ‘immoral’ blockade of Cuba

September 2, 2009
Morning Star Online/UK, September 1,  2009
by Tom Mellen
Sanctions have forced Cubans to improvise, including bringing back oxen due to petrol shortages

Sanctions have forced Cubans to improvise, including bringing back oxen due to petrol shortages

Amnesty has challenged US President Barack Obama to deliver on his change agenda by taking the first step towards dismantling the “immoral” US blockade of socialist Cuba.

The human rights group has urged Mr Obama not to renew Trading with the Enemy Act sanctions against the island as it published its new report looking at the impact of the US economic embargo.

The deadline for the renewal of sanctions under the Act is September 14.

The report concluded that the sanctions, imposed by the US since 1962, are particularly affecting Cubans’ access to medicines and medical technologies and endangering the health of millions.

On the campaign trail last year Mr Obama told US citizens that, when “we win this election together, we’re going to change the country and change the world.”

Amnesty secretary general Irene Khan said: “This is the perfect opportunity for President Obama to distance himself from the failed policies of the past and to send a strong message to the US Congress on the need to end the embargo.

“The US embargo against Cuba is immoral and should be lifted – it’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.”

Under the blockade, Cuba faces severe restrictions on importing medicines, medical equipment or technologies from the US or from any US company abroad.

The sanctions also limit other imports to the island and restrict travel and the transfer of money.

Products patented in the US or containing more than 20 per cent US-manufactured parts or components cannot be exported to Cuba, even if they are produced in third countries.

Cuba’s inability to import nutritional products for consumption at schools, hospitals and daycare centres is contributing to a high prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia.

Some 37.5 per cent of Cuba’s children under three years old are affected, according to UNICEF.

Children’s health was also put at risk by a decision from US syringe suppliers to cancel an order for three million disposable syringes made in 2007 by the UNICEF Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, when it became known that the units were destined for Cuba.

Similar situations have affected the implementation of UN programmes to prevent and fight HIV/AIDS on the island, according to Amnesty.

Ms Khan said that, while responsibility for providing adequate healthcare lies “primarily with the Cuban authorities, governments imposing sanctions such as embargoes need to pay special attention to the impact they can have on the targeted country’s population.”

Underlying the Economic Crisis is a Human Rights Time Bomb

June 1, 2009

The Economic crisis has only exacerbated human rights abuses

by Irene Khan |   The Independent/UK, May 29, 2009

Underlying the economic crisis is an explosive human rights crisis. The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems. In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat. The world needs a new global deal on human rights – not paper promises but commitment and concrete action from governments.

This crisis is about shortages of food, jobs, clean water, land and housing, and also about deprivation and discrimination, growing inequality, xenophobia and racism, violence and repression across the world. Billions of people are suffering from insecurity, injustice and indignity.

China and Russia are proof that open markets have not led to open societies. Human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, trade union representatives and other civil society leaders were harassed, attacked, or killed with impunity in every world region last year. From Gaza to Darfur and from eastern DRC to northern Sri Lanka, the human toll of conflict has been horrendous, and the lukewarm response of the international community shocking.

Huge resources are being dedicated to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia but not to stop the flow of arms that kill civilians in that country. Military action is being stepped up in Afghanistan and Pakistan but the human rights and humanitarian implications of the conflicts are being underplayed.

Ignoring one crisis to focus on another is a recipe for aggravating both. Economic recovery will be neither sustainable nor equitable if governments fail to tackle abuses that drive and deepen poverty, or armed conflicts that generate new violations.

Our first demand in our new campaign is to the USA and China. The US does not accept the notion of economic, cultural and social rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. Both governments must sign up to all human rights for all. Solutions to global problems must be underpinned by global values of human rights – and those at the top table of world leadership must begin by setting an example.

Taken from a foreword by Amnesty International’s secretary-general to its new report, ‘Underlying the Economic Crisis is a Human Rights Time Bomb’

© 2009 The Independent
Irene Khan is Secretary General for Amnesty International.

UN to investigate Israel over Gaza bombs

February 12, 2009
(Wednesday 11 February 2009)

UNITED Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon ordered an investigation into Israeli attacks on UN facilities in Gaza on Tuesday.

Mr Ban declared that he had initiated steps to establish a UN board of inquiry “into incidents involving death and damage at UN premises in Gaza.”

The secretary-general said that the board should start work immediately and report to him within a month.

Over 50 UN installations were damaged during the Israeli air and ground assault between December 27 and January 18.

But Amnesty International insisted that the inquiry should be much broader and include all alleged violations of international law.

Amnesty secretary-general Irene Khan called Mr Ban’s announcement welcome but insufficient.

“It is not only the victims of attacks on the UN who have a right to know why their rights were violated and who was responsible and to obtain justice and reparation,” Ms Khan observed.

She called for a “comprehensive international investigation that looks at all alleged violations of international law – by Israel, by Hamas and by other Palestinian armed groups involved in the conflict.”

Ms Khan urged the security council to support a comprehensive inquiry “that covers all attacks that may have violated the laws of war during the recent fighting in Gaza and southern Israel.”


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