Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Human Rights Watch slams West for 'cowardice' on rights issues

The reluctance of democratic countries to defend the rights of persecuted Christians around the world is now bearing unfortunate consequences - now non-Christians are also increasingly losing their freedoms around the world as well.

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RFE/RL reports: An international rights group has accused Western powers of not doing enough to pressure abusive regimes to protect basic human rights.

The 648-page Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, a compendium of human rights abuses reported around the world in the past year, criticizes the democracies for their “soft reaction” to repressive regimes.

The report singles out the United States, the European Union and the United Nations for failing to put enough pressure on abusive governments, highlighting what it called a “near-universal cowardice in confronting China’s deepening crackdown on basic liberties.” HRW also charged Western leaders, particularly U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and U.S. President Barack Obama with focusing too much on dialogue and not enough on confronting abuses.

Leaders of authoritarian governments welcome an emphasis on dialogue because it is likely to “remove the spotlight from human rights discussions.”

The report notes that defending human rights “may sometimes interfere with other governmental interests,” adding that if so, “they should at least have the courage to admit it, instead of hiding behind meaningless dialogues and fruitless quests for cooperation.”

“It became very fashionable in the last couple of years to prefer dialogue – so called dialogue and silent diplomacy – to naming and shaming. And we think it didn’t do any good for human rights worldwide. It showed, actually, that talk behind closed doors doesn’t lead to any improvement in this area.”

(for more, see referenced in Ukrainian Weekly, January 30, 2011, 89(5), pp.1, 11)

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