Referring to general trends in many of the 159 countries included in the report, Amnesty International's secretary general, Salil Shetty, drew parallels between developments in 2016 and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s.
“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s,” he said.
“Donald Trump’s poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics,” said the introduction of the report. “Across the world, leaders and politicians wagered their future power on narratives of fear and disunity, pinning blame on the ‘other’ for the real or manufactured grievances of the electorate.”
The report also condemned the continuing violence in Syria and Yemen, comparing international inaction in
the case of Aleppo with “similar failures in Rwanda and Srebrenica in 1994 and 1995,” referring to two of the worst genocides of the past few decades which both resulted in pledges to not allow such mass killings to happen again.
The human rights group this year particularly focused on what it perceives to be a dangerous rollback of civil rights far from the battlefields of war-torn nations but instead in Europe and North America.
“The limits of what is acceptable have shifted. Politicians are shamelessly and actively legitimizing all sorts of hateful rhetoric and policies based on people's identity: misogyny, racism and homophobia,” Shetty said in a statement.
The group singled out Trump’s executive order, which was signed in January and banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The executive order was blocked by courts but Trump has since announced plans to issue a modified version.
Amnesty International also criticized Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, for his mass surveillance and drone programs but predicted that Trump would lead the world into an era of “greater instability and mutual suspicion.”
The report then blamed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, among other leaders, for human rights abuses.
Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed more than 6,000 lives, according to Amnesty International. Whereas vigilantes have been blamed for most of the killings, the group said the violence was “state-sanctioned.”
Orban of Hungary has depicted himself as one of the only European leaders willing to defend the continent’s Christians. Such rhetoric has turned Hungary into what critics describe as a hostile environment for Muslim migrants. Human rights organizations allege that Hungary has abused anti-terrorism laws to sentence individuals accused of rioting in refugee camps.
The country currently also plans to propose a European Union law that would allow authorities to detain all asylum seekers while they are waiting for their applications to be processed.
“For millions, 2016 was a year of unrelenting misery and fear, as governments and armed groups abused human rights in a multitude of ways,” Shetty wrote.