The deepening crisis in Mali in 2012 reflected many of the region’s deep-rooted problems. Across Africa, people’s lives and their ability to realize their rights continued to be hindered by conflict, ubiquitous poverty and abuses by security forces and armed groups. These highlighted the inherent weakness of regional and international human rights, peace and security mechanisms.
The widespread human rights violations of the past, and the failure to hold those responsible to account, have cast a long shadow over many countries in the region. However, key prosecutions in 2012 in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay marked further important advances in the quest for justice for violations committed during past military governments. Nevertheless, for some, the struggle for meaningful access to justice and an end to impunity continued. In Haiti, for example, proceedings against former President Jean-Claude Duvalier remained stalled in the courts. And in the USA, little progress was made in holding to account those responsible for abuses committed as part of the CIA’s programme of secret detentions during the Bush administration.
In countries across Asia-Pacific, the simple act of publicly expressing one’s opinion – whether on the streets or online – was met with brutal state oppression. People were routinely harassed, attacked, jailed and killed for daring to challenge the authorities.
A rare example of the democratic transition of power for the former Soviet Union took place in the parliamentary elections in Georgia. Elsewhere, authoritarian regimes retained their grip on power. The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize but was unable to guarantee basic shelter and security for refugees in all its member states, nor equal rights for its six million Roma citizens. The European Court of Human Rights, for so long the jewel in the crown of Europe’s human rights protection system continued to be undermined by the refusal of member states to implement judgements and by attempts to reduce the scope of its authority.The European Court of Human Rights, for so long the jewel in the crown of Europe’s human rights protection system continued to be undermined by the refusal of member states to implement judgements and by attempts t o reduce the scope of its authority.