UNSC "would be more aptly named the UN Insecurity Council," says Agnes Callamard of the rights watchdog, adding it has repeatedly failed to act in such places as Myanmar, Afghanistan and Syria.

Amnesty International's Agnes Callamard blames Russia's
Amnesty International's Agnes Callamard blames Russia's "insolence" in the face of a "paralysed international system". (AP)

Amnesty International has slammed "war crimes" in Ukraine in its annual report, as the civilian toll continues to rise after Russia's attack, likening the situation there to the Syrian and Chechnya wars.

"What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria," Agnes Callamard, secretary general of the global rights watchdog, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

She was speaking in Johannesburg at the launch of the rights group's annual report on the state of human rights in the world.

"We are beyond indiscriminate attacks. We are in the midst of deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure," she said, accusing Russia of turning humanitarian corridors into "death traps".

"We see the same thing here, just as Russia did in Syria".

Amnesty's director in Eastern Europe Marie Struthers concurred, telling a separate briefing in Paris that researchers in Ukraine had "documented the use of the same tactics as in Syria and Chechnya," including attacks on civilians and the use of arms prohibited under international law.

Comparing the besieged city of Mariupol, to the Syrian city of Aleppo, bludgeoned by the regime leader Bashar al Assad, with the help of Russian airpower, Callamard said the rights lobby group's "observation at this point, is a rise in war crimes," she said.

'Paralysed international system'

Callamard blamed Russia's "insolence" in the face of a "paralysed international system" and the "shameful inaction" of institutions including the UN Security Council.

"The UN Security Council would be more aptly named the UN Insecurity Council," she said, adding it had repeatedly failed to act "adequately in the face of atrocities" in such places as Myanmar, Afghanistan and Syria.

She urged that there be no "neutrality" when dealing with Russia.

In a vote at a UN General Assembly on March 2, around 20 African countries refused to take a firm stand against Moscow in a resolution calling on Russia to a ceasefire.

One of the continent's diplomatic powerhouses, South Africa's non-aligned stance is "weak, unhistorical and short-sighted," said Callamard.

"Africa has a role to play," in the rebuilding of the global multilateral institutions and systems as it has also been hard hit by the impact of the conflict and the spike in wheat and fuel prices.

'2021 was largely a story of betrayal'

After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amnesty reported worrying attacks on human rights as 67 of 154 countries worldwide introduced new legislation to further restrict freedoms "often using the pandemic as justification".

"And when draconian laws and trumped-up charges failed, governments turned to brute force," she said, urging the lifting of restrictions that have kept hundreds of thousands of children out of school.

Meantime, as the Covid pandemic killed more than six million people worldwide, new wars erupted and unresolved ones worsened in parts of the globe.

Amnesty accused wealthy nations of colluding with pharma giants to deny many people from Africa life-saving vaccines.

"From a human rights perspective, 2021 was largely a story of betrayal and hypocrisy in the corridors of power," Amnesty concluded on vaccine inequality.

Source: AFP