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Amnesty International Annual Report 2013: Human Rights Know No Borders

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Global inaction on human rights is making the world an increasingly dangerous place for refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said today, May 23, 2013, at the launching of the Annual Report 2013, its annual assessment of the world’s human rights.

The organization said that the rights of millions of people who have escaped conflict and persecution, or migrated to seek work and a better life for themselves and their families, have been abused. Governments around the world are accused of showing more interest in protecting their national borders than the rights of their citizens or the rights of those seeking refuge or opportunities within those borders.

“The failure to address conflict situations effectively is creating a global underclass. The rights of those fleeing conflict are unprotected. Too many governments are abusing human rights in the name of immigration control – going well beyond legitimate border control measures,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“These measures not only affect people fleeing conflict. Millions of migrants are being driven into abusive situations, including forced labour and sexual abuse, because of anti-immigration policies which means they can be exploited with impunity. Much of this is fuelled by populist rhetoric that targets refugees and migrants for governments’ domestic difficulties,” said Shetty.

The European Union implements border control measures that put the lives of migrants and asylum-seekers at risk and fails to guarantee the safety of those fleeing conflict and persecution. Around the world, migrants and asylum-seekers are regularly locked up in detention centres and in worst case scenarios are held in metal crates or even shipping containers.

The rights of huge numbers of the world’s 214 million migrants were not protected by their home or their host state. Millions of migrants worked in conditions amounting to forced labour - or in some cases slavery-like conditions - because governments treated them like criminals and because corporations cared more about profits than workers’ rights. Undocumented migrants were particularly at risk of exploitation and human rights abuse.

The report notes that in Albania the government adopted reforms which restricted the immunity of MPs and other public officials from prosecution and revised the Electoral Code, following previous allegations of fraud. In December, the European Council postponed the granting of EU candidate status to Albania, conditional on further reform. Read the report on Albania on the subsite of the 2013 Annual Report.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the report found that nationalist rhetoric by main political parties across the country increased. Challenges to the integrity of the state intensified. Institutions at the state level, including the judiciary, were weakened. Prosecution of crimes under international law continued before domestic courts, but progress remained slow and impunity persisted. Many civilian victims of war were still denied access to justice and reparations. Read the report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In Croatia, despite some progress in prosecuting crimes under international law committed during the 1991-1995 war, the measures taken to address impunity remained inadequate. Many crimes allegedly committed by members of the Croatian Army and police forces against Croatian Serbs and other minorities remained uninvestigated. Discrimination against Roma, Croatian Serbs and LGBTI people continued. Read the report on Croatia.

In Macedonia, Amnesty International reports deteriorating relations between the Macedonian and ethnic Albanian populations. Relatives of missing persons abducted in 2001 were denied access to justice. Conditions in places of detention fell short of minimum standards. Read the report on Macedonia.

In Montenegro, the verdicts in war crimes cases were inconsistent with international law. Independent journalists continued to face intimidation and attacks. Demonstrations against the government’s economic and social policies continued throughout the year.Negotiations on Montenegro’s accession to the EU began in June, focusing on the rule of law, including combatting organized crime and high-level corruption. Read the report on Montenegro.

As far as Serbia is concerned, the prosecutions of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić began at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal). In Belgrade more than 1,000 Roma were forcibly evicted in April. The Belgrade Pride was again banned in October. In Kosovo (the report covers Kosovo within the country-report on Serbia), impunity continued for crimes under international law perpetrated by the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA). Violence in the north, inter-ethnic attacks and discrimination against minorities continued. Read the full report on Serbia.

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