Arab League Summit: Leaders must address region’s shameful human rights violations

Arab leaders must bring an end to the widespread repression that has become a hallmark of governments in the region, Amnesty International said today ahead of the Arab League Summit in Tunisia this weekend. 
The lack of international accountability throughout the region has meant that governments in MENA have had free rein to imprison peaceful critics, restrict the activities of civil society or use arbitrary arrest, detention and excessive use of force against protesters demanding their rights.
“All across the MENA region, thousands of peaceful critics have been victims of relentless government violations”, said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The fact that the summit is being held in Tunisia is a reminder that people across the Arab world rose up in protest calling for social justice and political reform in 2011 – yet the Arab Summit seeks to pretend that this never happened.
“Amnesty International sends a clear message to Arab leaders – who have little or no respect of human rights – that it is time to end the zero-tolerance policy toward freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
“As a first step, they should commit to releasing all prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned solely for expressing their peaceful opinions and ending their crackdowns on protesters.”
While brave citizens and human rights defenders are behind bars across the MENA region simply for expressing their opinions, Amnesty International is raising awareness of five Arab prisoners of conscience that the world will not hear about at the Summit. These activists are:  Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain, Loujain al-Hathloul from Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Mansoor from United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Mkhaïtir from Mauritania, and Hanan Badr el-Din from Egypt.
Last month, Amnesty International launched its report Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: A review of 2018 which describes how authorities across the region have unashamedly persisted with ruthless campaigns of repression in order to crush dissent, cracking down on protesters, civil society and political opponents, often with tacit support from powerful allies.
The 22 countries of the Arab League will meet this Sunday 30 March in Tunis for their 36th summit.
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