The Unheard Truth

Amnesty International
15 October 2009

The Unheard Truth: World leaders must change
debate on poverty and human rights

In the run-up to the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, Amnesty International called on world leaders and policy makers to shift the debate on poverty from economics to addressing the human rights problems that impoverish and keep people poor.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan stated: “Poverty is the world’s worst human rights crisis.

“Discrimination, state repression, corruption, insecurity and violence are as much defining features of poverty as the lack of material resources. These human rights problems can’t simply be solved by raising income levels,” said Irene Khan.

“Material benefits alone do not guarantee an end to discrimination, or improve security or give voice to those living in poverty. Investment in agriculture may boost crop yields for poor farmers but does not guarantee security of tenure against unscrupulous land owners. Building new schools doesn’t guarantee that girls will have the same access to education as boys.

“In many countries economic growth levels may be high but people’s right to be informed and consulted in public policy is ignored; their right to express their views and be heard is curtailed. The poor are shut out and ignored.

“Any successful poverty alleviation strategy must empower the poor to claim their rights, so that they can control their destiny and can hold decision makers to account.”

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Governments in Africa must end forced evictions

Amnesty International
Press Release
5 October 2009

World Habitat Day: Governments in Africa must end forced evictions

Governments in Africa must end the practice of forced evictions that leave hundreds of thousands homeless every year, Amnesty International said on World Habitat Day, 5 October.

In most cases evictions are conducted without any due process, consultation, adequate notice or compensation. Officials carrying out the evictions often use excessive force against residents.

“It is completely unacceptable that governments across Africa continue to act in violation of regional and international law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

“Governments have a responsibility to ensure that no further forced evictions take place in Africa and that victims of forced evictions receive adequate alternative housing and access to effective remedies.”

Amnesty International has documented cases of forced evictions in Angola, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The effect of forced evictions can be catastrophic, particularly for people who are already living in poverty.

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New report on maternal mortality in Sierra Leone

AI secretary general Irene Khan visits a maternity ward at a hospital in Sierra Leone.

AI secretary general Irene Khan visits a maternity ward at a hospital in Sierra Leone.

Adama Turay was supposed to be cuddling her newborn. Instead, she was fighting for life after the birth of her first child.

She was bleeding and sick after delivery. Her family knew something was wrong, but they didn’t have money for a doctor.

They somehow managed to raise enough for a taxi to take her to the hospital, but during the 40-minute ride to the nearest medical facility, Adama died.

“The fear of what it would cost prevented her from seeking the medical attention that she really needed,” said Sarah Kabbia, Adama’s sister.

Amnesty International’s new report, Out of Reach: The Cost of Maternal Health in Sierra Leone shows us a bleak, terrifying situation for pregnant women and their families:

  • A higher proportion of women in Sierra Leone die in childbirth and pregnancy than almost anywhere else in the world.
  • Women and their families are forced to negotiate and pay for equipment and medications, and provide their own food and water, while they’re in a health facility, at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
  • Most people live far away from a medical facility and cannot afford transportation costs to a hospital or doctor.

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AI released annual report and announced new campaign

Amnesty International
27 May 2009

Empowering the world’s poor

A new Amnesty International campaign to give a voice to people living in deprivation will empower “prisoners of poverty” as previous campaigns empowered prisoners of conscience, says Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan.

Irene Khan unveiled the Demand Dignity campaign at the launch of Amnesty International’s annual report on the state of the world’s human rights, which warns that the world is sitting on a “time bomb” fuelled by an unfolding human rights crisis.

“The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems. In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat,” she said.

Demand Dignity is a long-term campaign that will focus on tackling exclusion, discrimination, marginalisation and poverty.

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