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Amnesty International Report Highlights Health Care Access Among Global Human Rights Abuses

Millions of people worldwide face repression and human rights abuses, including the denial of health care access, Amnesty International said in its annual report on human rights, which was released on Wednesday, msnbc.com reports (5/26).

The report, which documents rights abuses in 159 countries, finds that “powerful governments are blocking advances in international justice by standing above the law on human rights, shielding allies from criticism and acting only when politically convenient,” according to an Amnesty International press release (5/27).

The organization called for governments not only to be held accountable for human rights abuses such as killing and torture, “but also for denying their citizens the rights needed to lift themselves out of poverty or improve access to health and education,” Reuters writes. The organization highlighted the number of people living in “extreme poverty” or on less than $1.25 per day. “Rights to food, education, health and housing are out of their reach, and they cannot claim them due to the non-existent, corrupt or discriminatory justice systems,” Claudio Cordone, Amnesty’s interim secretary-general, wrote in the report.

The report also noted the group’s “concerns about the ability of countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) … Amnesty said governments were falling far short of the targets and that new thinking was needed” (Nguyen, 5/27). Cordone added that the September MDG meeting in New York “is an opportunity for world leaders to move from promises to legally enforceable commitments,” the press release states. 

The report also notes the disproportionate effect that limited progress on MDG targets has had on women. “Governments must promote women’s equality and address discrimination against women if they are going to make progress on” the MDG targets, Cordone said (5/27). In an interview with Reuters, Cordone said, “Discrimination against women is one of the things that leads to women being particularly disadvantaged by the economic crisis. If you really want to deal with maternal mortality, it’s not just a matter of quality of care or resources, you have to end discrimination against women. The same thing with education,” he said (5/27).

“The report also highlighted the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by ‘ongoing armed conflicts and insecurity,'” Agence France-Presse reports. The report said displaced people are often forced to stay in camps “in precarious conditions with limited access to water, sanitation, health, education and food” (5/26). To improve the situation, Amnesty International said governments should “ensure accountability for their own actions and fully sign up to the International Criminal Court … to ensure that crimes under international law can be prosecuted anywhere in the world,” according to msnbc.com (5/27).

Reuters also has a factbox with country information from the Amnesty International report (5/26).

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