Geneva, 13 March 2017 – The continuous rise of human rights violations, including in the name of counterterrorism, and the systematic crackdown on dissenting voices by Arab governments seriously undermine the rights of their citizens, Alkarama said today in launching its Annual Report 2016. The 117-page document reviews the human rights situation in 20 countries, highlighting the most pressing issues and formulating recommendations.
Far from meeting their citizens’ demands to peacefully achieve change in governance and the rule of law, in 2016, Arab governments continued to push back, using abductions, executions, judicial harassment, and torture. It is in this alarming context that human rights defenders, political opponents, bloggers and journalists were imprisoned because their criticism was deemed “harmful to the reputation of the State”. With NGOs and human rights activists facing increasing restrictions, the region witnessed a further shrinking of civil society space.
In its Foreword, Alkarama’s Board notes that, according to UN numbers, while the Arab world is home to only 5% of the global population, it accounts for approximately 68% of the world’s conflict-related deaths, 58% of the world’s refugees, and 45% of the world’s terrorist attacks. “Protecting human rights defenders and change makers in this context has been one of the major challenges faced by Alkarama in the past years,” the Board said. “More than ever, our strategy remains to protect and empower local civil societies by acting as a bridge between them and the UN human rights mechanisms.”
In 2016, Alkarama provided assistance to 315 victims of serious human rights violations and submitted 556 complaints on their behalf to the UN human rights mechanisms. Alkarama also submitted 14 reports to various UN bodies, to ensure that they are aware of the main issues in the Arab world. However, Arab States remain reluctant to uphold the obligations enshrined in the core human rights treaties they ratified, going as far as to retaliate against those who seek redress before the UN.
Alkarama reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that victims’ voices are heard at the highest level, so that they can hold their governments accountable, and advocate for the respect of human rights.
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