G-20 must set the example and clean up their human rights record
Amnesty International’s Secretary General has called on the G-20 grouping that brings together the world’s leading economies to lead by example and show real commitment to human rights. "To be truly global leaders, the G-20 must subscribe to global values and confront their own tarnished records and double standards on human rights", said Irene Khan as she launched Amnesty International’s annual report on the state of the world’s human rights. The G-20 is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UK, USA and the EU. Amnesty International has compiled evidence showing human rights violations in well over half the G-20 countries that calls into question the G-20’s credibility to lead the world. The two most powerful countries in the G-20, the USA and China, have both accepted only part of the global human rights agenda. China has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) but not the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The USA for its part has ratified the ICCPR but not the ICESCR. "Both world powers must demonstrate commitment to the full body of human rights by ratifying such treaties without delay," said Irene Khan. At least 2,390 people worldwide lost their lives as a result of the death penalty with 78% of all executions taking place in G-20 countries. China, Saudi Arabia and the USA were the three of the world’s top executioners. Of the four states who carried out the most executions in 2008, only Iran is not a member of the G-20. Unlawful killings by law enforcement officials took place in nine G-20 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. Fifteen G-20 countries tortured or otherwise ill-treated people in custody: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA, France and Canada. People were subjected to unfair trials in eight of the G-20 countries – China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and USA – and unfair hearings in the UK. People were detained unjustly, often for prolonged periods without charge or trial, in 14 G-20 countries: Australia, Canada (one case in immigration detention), China, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK (foreign nationals pending expulsion) and the USA. "It is incumbent on those sitting at the world’s top table to set an example through their own behaviour," said Irene Khan. "A good start would be for the G-20 members to send a clear signal that all human rights, economic, social or cultural rights, political or civil rights, are equally important." These figures all refer to the 19 G-20 countries and do not include the EU.