Summit of the Americas: Draft Declaration Falls Short on Human Rights

For Immediate Release

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Josefina Salomón, P:+44 207 413 5562. M:+7778 472 116, jsalomon@amnesty.org

Summit of the Americas: Draft Declaration Falls Short on Human Rights

WASHINGTON - The draft declaration being negotiated by governments in advance of
the Fifth Summit of the Americas falls short on human rights, warned
Amnesty International today, as it issued a series of recommendations
to improve the official declaration.

"The draft declaration being taken to the Americas Summit is
disappointing when it comes to human rights," said Susan Lee, Americas
Director at Amnesty International. "It is only by making meaningful
commitments to strengthen human rights protection that governments will
truly improve the lives of their citizens. Failure to put human rights
at the centre of the Summit will put the lives of millions at risk."

In its briefing, Amnesty International highlights that while
addressing many serious issues, the official declaration needs to
strengthen its human rights component. In particular, the organization
believes the Summit's declaration must emphasize issues including: 

  • Poverty, by making a clear commitment to
    addressing the high levels of preventable maternal mortality and the
    deprivation suffered by millions living in slums across the Americas.
  • Energy projects, by addressing the negative impact
    some projects can have on people's enjoyment of their right to adequate
    healthcare, housing, food and livelihood and particularly on the land
    rights of the hemisphere's Indigenous Peoples.
  • The operations of companies, by acknowledging the
    need for strong legislation to hold corporations to account for their
    potentially negative impact on human rights.
  • Climate change, by committing to the adoption of
    policies that put human rights considerations at the centre of both
    reversing and mitigating climate change.
  • Public security, by committing to ensure that
    public security laws and practices, including those dealing with
    terrorism and organized crime, comply fully with human rights
    obligations, such as the right not to be arbitrarily detained, tortured
    or subjected to enforced disappearance.
  • Strengthening democratic governance, by promising to improve the low rate of ratification of most of the hemisphere's human rights treaties.  

Amnesty International's recommendations also highlight the need for
the US to lift its economic embargo on Cuba, which is preventing Cubans
from enjoying human rights such as adequate healthcare, education and
housing.

"Human rights cannot be considered an optional extra; they must be
at the heart of all deliberations and commitments arising from this
Summit," said Susan Lee. "The rights of people living in slums, of
Indigenous Peoples facing dislocation from their land, and of people
caught-up in abusive public security laws must be unequivocally
recognized and firmly protected. Human rights provide the blueprint for
the "secure future" the Declaration envisions for citizens of the
Americas."

"Governments in the Americas have an unprecedented opportunity to
make this a summit of meaningful commitments and problem-solving if
they make sure it is a summit focused on human rights," said Susan Lee.
"For millions of the Americas' poorest citizens, it is literally a
matter of life and death."

Background Information

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

An Amnesty International delegation will participate in the fifth
Summit of the Americas, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago between 16
and 18 of April 2009 and in the Summit of the People, between 14 and 16
April 2009.

The team will be made up of Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty
International Canada (English); Ivahanna Larrosa, Director of Amnesty
International Uruguay and Stacy Shapiro, Americas Campaign Coordinator.

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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