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Archive | 2012

2012: A Year of Human Rights Challenges

As Human Rights violations continue around the world, will 2013 be a better year?

The Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya is home to roughly one million inhabitants and is considered one of the largest slums in Africa (GALLO/GETTY)

International Human Rights day is celebrated on December 10, but from a human rights perspective, 2012 has been more of a year to learn from than one to celebrate.

Human Rights Day was chosen to honour the UN General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on December 10, 1948, which was the first global enunciation of human rights.

Yet, for most of the years since then, the reality has been quite different than the Human Rights ideals set more than 60 years ago.

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Guantanamo: A legacy of shame

Despite Obama’s promises to close it, the prison remains open with no end in sight.

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, one of his biggest campaign promises was to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)

“They used dogs on us, they beat me, sometimes they hung me from the ceiling and didn’t allow me to sleep for six days,” Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj, who spent six years in Guantanamo Bay prison, told Al Jazeera. “Sometimes they wouldn’t allow me to use the restroom, other times they would run the air conditioner very high and leave me in that room for a very long time.”

This was after he’d had his kneecap broken just after being detained by the US military in Pakistan in 2001, when he was on a reporting assignment to cover the US invasion of Afghanistan. Al-Haj was regularly tortured by US military personnel and interrogators throughout his time in the infamous prison.

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Where is the Green Party?

As climate change become increasingly apparent, many wonder why the Green Party is being ignored in the US election.

Some Americans say climate change is an important issue, but the two major parties don’t focus on it (GALLO/GETTY)

In the race for the White House, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have talked about sustainable development.

Yet the Green Party ticket, whose stance on the issue outpaces those of both the Republican and Democratic parties, is virtually unknown by the vast majority of US voters.

Romney, who has campaigned while standing in front of a coal mine in Ohio and enjoys support from the billionaire Koch brothers who made their fortune in oil, gas and chemicals, is the bane of many environmentalists.

Meanwhile, Obama has been criticised for not cracking down on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that uses chemicals and water to blast through underground shale formations.

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