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‘Debt relief, social protection’ — Amnesty asks countries to take action as global crises deepens

Nigeria’s cat and mouse fight with amnesty international Nigeria’s cat and mouse fight with amnesty international
Nigeria’s cat and mouse fight with amnesty international

Amnesty International has asked countries to take steps to mitigate the effects of the global crisis on citizens.

Rising food prices, climate change, the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Sudan crisis, and the rising insecurity in West Africa are some of the challenges driving a humanitarian crisis and leading to increased social unrest and protests.

In a statement on Wednesday, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said the crisis in the world had exposed huge gaps in state support and protection systems, leaving hundreds of millions facing hunger or trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation.

The human rights organisation called for international debt relief, and urged states to enact tax reforms and clampdown on tax abuse, to free up substantial funding to pay for social protection.

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“A combination of crises has revealed how ill-prepared many states are to provide essential help to people. It is shocking that over 4 billion people, or about 55% of the world’s population, have no recourse to even the most basic social protection, despite the right to social security being enshrined since 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Callamard said.

“Universal social protection can address the violations of economic and social rights that are often at the heart of grievances and protest. Instead of viewing peaceful protest as an expression of people’s attempts to claim their rights, authorities have frequently responded to demonstrations with unnecessary or excessive use of force. Peaceful protest is a human right and Amnesty International campaigns to Protect the Protest.”

The organisation urged international creditors to reschedule or cancel debts to enable them to better fund social protection.

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Amnesty International estimated the cost of offering basic social security protection in all low income and low-to-middle income states to stand at $440.8 billion a year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Callamard urged states to work together and to use all their resources, as well as reform their taxation systems to prevent a loss of critical revenues and to ensure funds are available to improve social protection.

“People have been brought to their knees by these crises, and when it comes to fixing the problems in the world, the solutions are rarely simple, but we do know that states should get serious about clamping down on tax abuse,” the secretary-general said.

“Protecting people against losses due to shocks, from disasters or economic reversals, can be transformational, both for society and the state that provides the support, by reducing social tension and conflict, and promoting recovery. It enables children to stay in education, improves healthcare, reduces poverty and income inequality, and ultimately benefits societies economically.

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“We cannot continue to look away as inequality soars, and those struggling are left to suffer. Tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by individuals and corporations are depriving states and particularly lower income countries of the resources they need.”

 

 

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