From Omagh to Beijing: backwards and forwards

So the Omagh bombing trial has collapsed and nearly a decade on theres still no justice for the 29 victims of the worst terrorist atrocity in Northern Ireland.

 

Its a sad pattern across the world that far too few mass killers are ever brought to justice. And its another sad pattern that terrorist outrages - not least suicide bombings (theres been another terrible one in Pakistan today for example) - continue to blight the world, almost daily.

Amnesty is resolutely committed to pursuing justice for the victims of all human rights crimes - not least ones perpetrated by armed groups like al-Qaida - and well continue to do that in years to come.

Meanwhile, the job of dissuading governments from indulging in dangerous over-reactions (Guantanamo, months of detention without charge, rendition abductions, torture) will go on in tandem. Join the 185,000 people that are supporting our new drive on this.

This is the final Press release me, let me go blog of 2007 (were back on 2 Jan), so whats the year been like?

Ive just touched on the big war on terror topics - the slow emptying of Guantanamo: thats been good (prisoner numbers now below 300 and dropping weekly). A growing chorus of opposition to the UK governments shaky case for extending pre-charge detention from four weeks to six: thats also been encouraging. Sign our Not a day longer e-petition here.

Further afield, the year's seen a huge crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in Burma, a state of emergency and mass round-ups in Pakistan, and continued violence in Iraq. Still on the negative side of the balance sheet, Iran has executed more than 300 prisoners, including child offenders, people in Darfur have suffered further human rights abuse with only intermittent international interest, and Zimbabwes government has continued to persecute all political opponents even as its economy spiralled ever further into decline.

More positively, weve had the United Nations voting for a worldwide halt to executions (though it remains to be seen how many governments will follow their advice), and Scotsman Kenny Richey getting his release from death row in Ohio after 21 years .

The situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories has remains perilous (especially for the people of Gaza), but after the personal hell of being kidnapped, BBC journalist Alan Johnston and Amnesty was finally released unharmed. Three cheers for that.

So, what have we got in store in 2008? The US Supreme Court is set to review the legality of detentions at Guantanamo Bay - so closure could even be on the cards. The same court is also going to decide on whether the lethal injection is a cruel way to execute US death row prisoners - that in turn could produce a complete halt to all American executions.

The really big thing, though, is probably the Beijing Olympics, and whether China is finally going to live up to its promise to improve human rights. In terms of sheer numbers, there are more Chinese people than any other nationality in the world suffering from institutionalised human rights violations. Lets see if China can win a medal for human rights next year.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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