[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] Secretary-General Irene Khan said Thursday that the global economic crisis is exacerbating [press release] the world's human rights failures, urging governments to "invest in human rights as purposefully as they are investing in economic growth." Khan spoke at the release of the 2009 Annual Report [text, PDF; materials], which says that wealthy nations have overlooked "massive human rights abuses, entrench[ed] poverty and endanger[ed] regional stability," while attempting to assemble economic recovery packages. The report noted that growing wealth inequality in many parts of the world has been widened by the economic crisis, and that "the numbers of people living in poverty and subjected to human rights abuse are likely to grow … in a recessionary economic climate." Developments in the US, including the June 2008 ruling [JURIST report] by the US Supreme Court [official website] in Boumediene v. Bush [Duke Law backgrounder] and a January decision by US President Barack Obama [official profile] to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility [JURIST report] tempered AI's continued criticism of human rights abuses resulting from the "war on terror."
Previous annual reports, including the 2008 report [JURIST report], have condemned human rights violations reported in the US "war on terror." The 2007 report [JURIST report] was critical of the US and other "Western democratic states" for attempts "to roll back some fundamental principles of human rights" in their efforts to fight terrorism. The 2006 report [JURIST report] reached similar conclusions, and suggested that Western powers had overlooked human rights violations due to a preoccupation with security. Concern for violence against women, persecution of human rights activists, the rights indigenous peoples and the use of the death penalty in criminal prosecutions also continue to be major themes in the Annual Reports.