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Every Human Has Rights

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10th Nov 2008

2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the global document that affirmed basic human rights after WWII. There are 30 principles outlined in the Universal Declaration.

In conjunction with the anniversary of the Universal Declaration, Amnesty International has launched a new campaign condemning torture, in all its forms. The modern discussion on torture is especially convoluted since the Bush Doctrine and US action regarding "stressful positions" came into affect with the war on terror. Facilities such as Guantanamo Bay, the US military detention center in Cuba and unsightly incidents widely reported in Iraq have proven that torture is not always a top-down directive. This is true in the US, and even more so in dictatorships and brutal regimes - a sobering fact now seen from China to the Congo. Sometimes it seeps from the bottom up, and one of the ways to combat such 'anonymous' activity is to shine light on it, forcing higher officials to act, if for no other reason than social discomfort.

One such case in the spotlight now is Yang Chunlin, who was jailed for involvement in creating petitions supporting human rights during the time of the 2008 Olympics in China. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have both been highlighting his cause: he was sentenced to five years in prison for his activities amid reports of stress induced torture.

Take a moment to visit the website and read the Universal Declaration. Then consider signing up to support these fundamental rights, and to put pressure on torture. Everything we lend, whether cash, energy or intention, does make a small benefit. Giving helps even more.

...if there's lots of pressure like from Amnesty International or some foreign countries we might pass them on to a judge. But if there's no pressure, then they're dead.

Former torturer, El Salvador

Given the outcome of the recent elections in the US, Amnesty International has also listed its demands on what the US can do reaffirm its support of the Universal Declaration.

tick box

Confirm that the USA will permanently close the detention facility at Guant namo and set a relatively short deadline for the closure.

tick boxIssue an executive order ending any use of rendition,
secret detention or prolonged incommunicado detention by or on behalf of the US authorities anywhere.

tick boxRevoke the 20 July 2007 Executive Order which authorized the continuation of the CIA's programme of secret detention and interrogation.

tick boxEnd trials by military commission and the system of Combatant Status Review Tribunals and Administrative Review Boards.

tick boxAnnounce a plan to promptly charge Guant namo detainees and send them for trial before US federal courts or to release them with full protection against further violations of their human rights, and ensure that the plan is adequately resourced.

tick boxEnsure Guant namo detainees who would be at risk of serious human rights violations if returned to their country of origin are offered the opportunity to live in the USA, if they wish to do so, and work with other governments to ensure that other such detainees are offered protection.