Egypt Independent: World-Main news en 'Toxic' political rhetoric threatens human rights: Amnesty <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><p>A rise in divisive rhetoric in mainstream global politics is threatening to roll back human rights around the world, Amnesty International says in its annual report for 2016, published on Tuesday.</p></div><div>Announcing the human rights report, Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty listed US President Donald Trump alongside world leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and claimed that their &quot;divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs.&quot;</div><ul></ul><div>&quot;Whether it is Trump, Orban, Erdo─čan or Duterte, more and more politicians calling themselves anti-establishment are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people,&quot; Shetty said in a statement accompanying the report.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The report, citing US mass surveillance and drone strikes, also criticizes former President Barack Obama&#39;s record on human rights, saying he &quot;leaves a legacy that includes many grievous failures to uphold human rights&quot; during his eight years in office. It says early indicators suggest that Trump&#39;s foreign policy will &quot;usher in a new era of greater instability and mutual suspicion.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The White House did not respond to CNN&#39;s request for comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Amnesty&#39;s report documents human rights abuses in 159 countries and territories, and draws on research by Amnesty&#39;s country-based teams around the world. The annual report is an assessment of human rights, rather than a critique of individual governments, according to Tirana Hassan, crisis response director at Amnesty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div data-autoplay="false"><div>&quot;The Trump administration is just one of the many governments that has used this dangerous rhetoric, whether it be against drug dealers in the Philippines, or the way Australia has scapegoated asylum seekers,&quot; Hassan told CNN.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This dehumanizing rhetoric could also trigger a domino effect, according to Amnesty. As powerful states backtrack on their human rights commitments, other leaders may feel emboldened to do the same, the nongovernmental organization warns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amnesty&#39;s findings echo those outlined in a&nbsp;world report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last month. In it, HRW suggests that the rise of &quot;populist leaders&quot; in the United States and Europe, and &quot;strongman leaders&quot; in Russia, Turkey, the Philippines and China, pose a dangerous threat to basic rights protections globally.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Refugees are among the first victims of this new world order, according to Amnesty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The report found that at least 36 countries violated international law in 2016 by sending refugees back to countries where their rights were at risk.</div><div>&quot;The first target has been refugees and, if this continues in 2017, others will be in the cross-hairs,&quot; Shetty said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The report cites&nbsp;Trump&#39;s temporarily suspended travel ban, which blocks immigrants and visa holders who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The report also highlights&nbsp;Hungary&#39;s hardline stance on refugees under Orban,&nbsp;Australia&#39;s system of offshore detention, and the&nbsp;EU-Turkey refugee deal&nbsp;as examples of governments turning a cold shoulder to refugees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Speaking at a press conference in London on Tuesday, Kerry Moscoguiri, Amnesty UK&#39;s director of campaigns, accused the British government for &quot;creating a hostile climate for refugees and migrants&quot; as it repeatedly resisted calls to take more responsibility for hosting them, specifically unaccompanied children.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Amnesty suggests that 2016 ushered in a new era in which human rights are characterized as a barrier to national interests, rendering the ability to tackle mass atrocities dangerously weak.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the last year, a number of governments turned a blind eye to war crimes, cracked down on freedom of expression, and justified torture and mass surveillance, the report said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The world watched as the&nbsp;bloody siege of Aleppo was broadcast live on social media, while&nbsp;Duterte&#39;s war on drugs&nbsp;left thousands dead in the Philippines, and&nbsp;Erdogan&#39;s intense crackdown on government critics landed thousands in jail.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The report documented war crimes committed in at least 23 countries -- including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Nigeria -- in 2016.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>The report warns that a lack of human rights leadership on the world stage will see ongoing crises worsen in 2017. It even goes so far as to suggest that the values laid out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations after World War II, are in danger of dissolution.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amnesty is calling for people around the world to stand up and defend human rights, which it says are often portrayed by some countries as a threat to security or economic development.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div data-autoplay="false"><div>The report also documents activists who have been killed for doing just that. The victims -- from 22 different countries -- were targeted for defending minorities, small communities, and challenging traditional barriers to human rights, according to the report. One of the activists highlighted in the report was 24-year-old&nbsp;Anas al-Basha, the so-called &quot;clown of Aleppo,&quot; who died bringing joy to children as the Syrian government battled to retake the city from opposition forces.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;As we begin 2017, the world feels unstable and fear for the future proliferates. Yet it is in these times that courageous voices are needed, ordinary heroes who will stand up against injustice and repression,&quot; Shetty said in the report.</div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:18:00 +0000 CNN 2476737 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/10/04/504802/refugees.jpg Brexit bill faces delay in House of Lords <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A source from the opposition Labour Party in the Lords, where the ruling Conservatives do not have a majority, said amendments to the Brexit bill &quot;would be likely to win handsomely&quot; in defiance of the government</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Britain&#39;s Lords were on a potential Brexit collision course with Prime Minister Theresa May&#39;s government Monday as they weighed changes that could delay a landmark bill to trigger the EU exit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Government supporters have warned Britain&#39;s upper house of parliament against any hold-ups, warning that the unelected chamber itself could be abolished if it defied the result of the Brexit referendum.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But a source from the opposition Labour Party in the Lords, where the Conservative government does not have a majority, said amendments &quot;would be likely to win handsomely&quot; in defiance of the government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And Michael Heseltine, a top Conservative, has also said he plans to rebel against the government by pushing for an amendment to ensure a parliamentary vote on any final Brexit deal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Heseltine also suggested that the Brexit decision could be reversed before Britain actually leaves the European Union.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;My opponents will argue that the people have spoken, the mandate secured and the future cast. My experience stands against this argument,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Scottish referendum? -</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Members of the House of Lords, known as peers, will begin proposing amendments to the bill on triggering Article 50 of the EU&#39;s Lisbon Treaty -- a formal notification of Britain&#39;s intention to leave the bloc.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government has said it plans to do so by the end of March, firing the starting gun on a maximum two years of negotiations to work out a divorce and the terms of future post-Brexit relations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The proposed changes are expected to be on defining the parameters of a parliamentary vote on the final Brexit deal as well as measures to guarantee the rights of three million EU migrants living in Britain.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Sunday Times reported that ministers are considering plans to limit benefits for new immigrants and grant five-year visas to migrant works in key sectors, such as software engineering, health and social welfare, farming and hospitality.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another key concern for ministers is the issue of what will happen to semi-autonomous Scotland and The Times on Monday reported that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon could make a formal request as soon as next month for a new independence referendum.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>- &#39;Do the right thing&#39; -</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The House of Commons, where May does enjoy a majority, overwhelmingly approved the Brexit bill without any changes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If peers approve the bill without amendments it will be sent -- after a final reading on March 7 -- directly to Queen Elizabeth II to sign into law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, if there are changes, the bill could bounce between the two houses as they try to agree on its final wording, potentially derailing May&#39;s timetable.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government was forced to seek parliamentary approval in January after losing a high-profile court battle in which judges ruled May must consult lawmakers before beginning the EU divorce proceedings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dick Newby, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the upper house, said there was strong support among peers for protecting the rights of EU citizens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is &quot;an overwhelming desire to do the right thing and ensure that all EU nationals have the right to remain,&quot; he told the Guardian on Sunday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But May has urged the Lords not to delay the bill.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There will be debate and scrutiny in the House of Lords, but I don&#39;t want to see anybody holding up what the British people want... which is for us to deliver Brexit,&quot; she said earlier.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But during the initial two-day Lords debate last Monday, Labour peer Angela Smith said peers should not &quot;provide the government with a blank cheque&quot; and that they would not be intimidated by MPs who have suggested the upper house could be abolished.</div> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:10:00 +0000 AFP 2476725 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/06/08/505021/big_ben.jpg Philippines-based militant group Abu Sayyaf beheads German hostage: SITE <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The Philippines-based militant group Abu Sayyaf posted a video on Monday showing the beheading of a man identified as a German hostage captured last November.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The video reposted by the militancy-monitoring group SITE showed a machete-wielding militant kill the elderly German hostage. SITE identified the man as Jurgen Kantner.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding a number of hostages and has freed several in return for ransom payments. Kantner&#39;s deadline for ransom had expired on Sunday, according to SITE.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Toby Chopra; Reuters</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The file photo from AFP shows German nationals Jurgen Kantner and his wife Sabine Merz pictured in Berbera, Somalia on May 5, 2009 (Mustafa Abdi / AFP File photo). AFP reported that a video posted by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which was monitored by SITE, showed German hostage Jurgen Kantner being killed by a knife-wielding man.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:18:00 +0000 Reuters 2476718 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/02/27/507556/german_hostage.jpg Another Jewish cemetery vandalized in US <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Vandals have broken and overturned more than 500 gravestones at another Jewish cemetery, this time in Philadelphia, the latest in a spate of bomb threats and attacks against Jewish sites across the United States.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hundreds of headstones, some of them more than 100 years old, were cut in half, local media reported Sunday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A local rabbi, who was unnamed, told ABC television affiliate WPVI that the affected graves at the historic Mount Carmel Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia&#39;s northeastern Wissinoming neighborhood also included those of one-time members of the Quaker and Muslim communities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We&#39;re not interested in any narrative about victimization and as heartbreaking as this is, we are strong together,&quot; the rabbi said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I just met two congregants of mine who were here, one of whom has relatives. His way of responding was to go row by row and count, and he&#39;s counted over 500 tombstones.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>New Jersey resident Aaron Mallin discovered the vandalism on Sunday when he came to visit his father&#39;s grave at the cemetery.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,&quot; he told WPVI.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police say they are investigating the vandalism.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div><strong>Latest anti-Semitic attacks</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The attack comes a week after more than 100 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri. The incident prompted a Muslim-led crowdfunding campaign to raise more than $100,000 to repair the cemetery, and a visit by Vice President Mike Pence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/download.jpg" style="width: 536px; height: 457px;" /></div><div><em>An American flag still stands next to one of over 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri (Tom Gannam / Reuters).</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among more recent attacks, vandals spray-painted swastikas on several cars, highway overpasses, buildings and an elementary school playground over the weekend in Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News reported.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After remaining silent on the subject for several days, President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried the anti-Semitic threats against Jewish community centers across America as &quot;horrible&quot; and &quot;painful.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, concern is rising about his embrace by white supremacist groups and an &quot;alt-right&quot; movement given a platform on Breitbart, the online news outlet once headed by Trump&#39;s chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The White House raised eyebrows on International Holocaust Remembrance Day late last month by issuing a statement that made no mention of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi genocide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other groups have also been targeted. On Wednesday, a drunk white man fatally shot an Indian engineer and wounded another in Kansas City, screaming racial slurs and telling them &quot;Get out of my country!&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:19:00 +0000 AFP 2476712 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/02/27/507556/jewishcem.jpg