Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Torture

    April 14, 2015

    By Ensaf Haidar, via The Washington Post

    On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.

    Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.

    March 05, 2015

    Tomorrow marks eight weeks since the Saudi Arabian authorities publicly flogged the blogger and activist Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam” and founding an online forum for political debate.

    After his first session of 50 lashes in front of a mosque in Jeddah on 9 January, a doctor advised prison authorities that his wounds had not healed sufficiently for him to undergo the second round of this brutal punishment.

    The following Friday, while a medical committee had advised that Raif Badawi should not be flogged because of high blood pressure, another prison doctor insisted that there was nothing wrong with him and that he should be flogged. Then, for five consecutive weeks the Friday floggings were not carried out for reasons that remain unknown. It is anybody’s guess whether the next part of his sentence will be carried out tomorrow.

    Raif Badawi has made headlines around the world. But his case is just the tip of the iceberg for the Gulf Kingdom’s appalling human rights record. Here are 10 sobering facts from Amnesty International’s research:

    February 18, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The messages that arrived in my inbox could not be ignored! They were bursting with positive emotion as they told of an important victory over injustice in Mexico.

    The texts were sent by Claudia Medina, a woman whose experience of torture and persecution had so moved me and other members of an Amnesty Canada delegation that visited Mexico last September.

    When we met Claudia five months ago, she was living with the traumatic scars of what was done to her while she was detained at a naval base in 2012: the beatings, the hot peppers forced up her nose, the electric shocks, the sexual assault. Her torturers added psychological torture, threatening to rape her with a metal bar and bring in her children to the torture chamber unless Claudia “confessed” to involvement in an armed, criminal gang.

    Not surprisingly, Claudia signed the “confession” she was not allowed to read and hung her head as she was presented as a dangerous criminal at a press conference by security forces anxious to show results in its "war on drugs".

    February 12, 2015
    Claudia Medina with Amnesty activists from Canada holding a banner with solidarity messages. (c) Amnesty International

    By Mariano Machain, Amnesty International’s campaigner on Mexico.

    I have seen Claudia Medina cry many times.

    She cried when she told me about the torture, including sexual abuse, she suffered at the hands of Mexican marines in 2012. She also cried when she explained what it is like to live with federal charges pending over her head, accused of being a member of a criminal gang, facing the risk of being arrested again at any time. Then once more when she told me about how her children were suffering.

    But today is the first time I have seen her cry out of joy and relief. A judge has just dropped the last remaining charge against her, arguing that the sole piece of evidence – a report filed by the marines – is a lie.

    The judge confirmed that after her arrest Claudia was tortured and sexually assaulted by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug-related crimes. The offences took place on 7 August 2012 at a Navy barracks in Veracruz state, Eastern Mexico.

    February 02, 2015

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, in conversation with Dr. Donald Payne, Health Network Coordinator

    January 23, 2015

     By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.

    The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.

    “What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.

    The answer is not simple.  

    Since taking the throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated some positive reforms.

    Women, for example, have slowly been included in the Shura Council, a powerless consultative body to advise the King, and incorporated into the workforce – with some being allowed to work in courts as lawyers.

    The late King is credited for opening a dozen new universities and providing thousands of Saudi Arabian citizens with generous scholarships to study abroad. He also initiated seemingly ambitious judicial reforms that have not really gone anywhere.  

    He even decreed the founding of a formal National Human Rights Commission and allowed the establishment of a supposedly independent human rights organization.

    But that’s where the good news ends.

    January 17, 2015

    Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnistie Internationale Canada francophone, gives a snapshot of some of the widespread global campaigning for Raif Badawi. Raif has been sentenced to ten years and 1,000 lashes after starting a website for public debate in Saudi Arabia.

    When the vigil in Montreal ended, we were all frozen to the bone. It was a gorgeous day, but to motivate activists and supporters to stay outdoors for over an hour in -20 degree temperatures, you have to be creative.

    Motivating them to come in the first place wasn’t that hard – I could see the energy and the anger in their faces. They were outraged at what was happening to Raif Badawi, and they wanted to act. Another reason to attend: standing beside me, upright, silent and proud, small in stature but great in spirit, was Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has taken refuge in Quebec along with their three children. Together, we our determined to reunite this family.

    January 14, 2015

    By Sister Maria Vida Cordero, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Amnesty International Philippines

    This week, people across the Philippines are incredibly excited about the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis.

    Not only is this the first papal visit to our country in two decades, but Pope Francis has already inspired millions of people across the globe – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – with his message of hope, mercy and compassion for the world’s poorest people.

    One of the issues that Pope Francis has spoken out about strongly and clearly continues to blight the Philippines – torture. Last year he condemned torture as a “very grave sin”.

    His Holiness has repeatedly urged governments around the world to stamp out this abhorrent practice and “invite[s] Christians to commit themselves to work together for its abolition and to support victims and their families.”

    January 09, 2015

    We will never stop speaking out for the human rights of all individuals at home and abroad. It is part of who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Nation
    President Barack Obama, 9 December 2014.

    Thirteen months of detentions at Guantánamo was already far too long. By then, February 2003, the Secretary of Defense had authorized interrogation techniques that violated the international ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    Thirteen years is a human rights outrage. Detainees held for year after year without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, excessive force, force feeding, a handful of prosecutions under a  military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards.

    There were 245 detainees still held at the base at the end of President President Barack Obama committed his administration to closing the Guantánamo detention facility “promptly” and at the latest by 22 January 2010.

    December 03, 2014

    Magdy el-Baghdady, a 30-year-old man from London, had a grand plan.

    In early 2011 he travelled to Sudan to open a small restaurant to help support his ailing father. He knew a few well-connected people in Khartoum with whom he had gone to school in north London. It all made sense at the time.

    But then, it went horribly wrong.

    Two weeks after his plane landed, he was languishing in a prison cell, bearing the marks and scars of torture.

    Despite his ordeal Magdy is lucky. He is now safely back in the UK, fighting a legal battle against the Sudanese state.

    He is arguing that Sudan violated the prohibition of torture under the African Charter and is using the Convention against Torture – adopted three decades ago this year – to do it.

    Madgy’s story illustrates why the Convention against Torture is crucial in the fight for justice for thousands like him. The document provides a clear definition of what torture is and sets out the obligations that state parties have to end it.

    November 26, 2014

    “I’ve been working for the drug cartels and helped place a car bomb that killed two police officers,” said Rogelio Amaya, looking straight at the camera lens. He appeared shaken, his body bruised.

    Within hours, a version of the video featuring Rogelio and four of his friends confessing to the crime plastered the TV screens of Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico along the border with the USA.

    The town is one of the most violent in the country, infamous for brutal clashes among competing drug cartels and law-enforcement officers.

    The local authorities congratulated themselves for having captured who they said were members of “La Línea”, a local drug cartel who had been terrorizing people in the area for years. They were also blamed for the recent explosion of a car bomb in downtown Juárez.

    Drug dealers behind bars. Problem solved.

    But a few years into the men’s prison term, the real story of how the video was made came to light – and exposed the shocking use of torture that pervades across Mexico.

    November 19, 2014

    The event was a legal milestone that sent a chilling message to human rights violators the world over.

    Eight years after being ousted from power, in October 1998, Augusto Pinochet, the ailing Chilean former leader and one of the world’s most notorious dictators, decided to travel to Europe to receive medical treatment.

    But as he arrived in London, members of the Chilean diaspora – many of them survivors of torture during Pinochet’s brutal regime – saw a golden opportunity for the former dictator to be investigated, after Chile had systematically refused to do so.

    Armed with the International Convention against Torture – a ground-breaking treaty under which governments had agreed that those suspected of committing or ordering torture could be tried by state parties all around the world – lawyers began a fierce battle.

    Never before had the Convention been successfully used to prosecute a former head of state suspected of having ordered or committed torture, and the results were astonishing.

    November 19, 2014

    By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner

    You may have noticed an Amnesty International campaign "Think Winter is Torture,Think Mexico" that reaches out to potential Canadian travellers to Mexico.

    There's a compelling reason why Amnesty is reaching out this way and it starts with an alarming human rights situation in Mexico. What has been revealed in the last couple of months in Mexico is a horror story that is simply unacceptable. Yet it's one that has largely escaped attention in Canada and the condemnation that could help make it stop.

    November 09, 2014

    By Noor Al-Bazzaz of Amnesty International’s Syria team

    Five months to the day after being abducted and held hostage by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), a group of 25 students from Kobani were unexpectedly set free on 29 October.

    They were the last remaining captives from a group of around 150 schoolchildren from the embattled Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria who were returning from their final year examinations in Aleppo in May when IS members stopped their school bus at a checkpoint and abducted them all. In the months that followed, they were sporadically released. Those we spoke to had horror stories to tell about life in IS captivity.

    In Suruç, a town in Turkey merely 10km from Kobani, refugees from the besieged city told me how the students’ harrowing experience was typical of the many abductions by IS in the year and a half since the armed group besieged their city.

    One of the released students, a 15-year-old boy who chose to remain unnamed, described the four months he spent in the hands of IS, detailing the armed group’s use of torture against students who broke the rigid rules, or attempted to escape.

    October 16, 2014

    When 71-year-old Herman Wallace died shortly after being released from more than four decades in isolation in a Louisiana prison, a year ago today, the extent of the system’s inhumanity was brought to light once again. But despite the international outcry, on any given day 80,000 people are locked in stark cells in inhumane conditions across the USA.

    When the thick solid metal door shut behind him, Steven was faced with his worst nightmare. He knew he would be forced to spend the following four years locked in a room only large enough to take two steps to either side. He would spend his every minute surrounded by nothing but three walls, a thin mattress, a concrete block for a table and a small sink.

    He knew the only human interaction he would have in the next 48 months would be a few words with his guards, who were not allowed to make conversation with him.

    Phone calls were banned – the mere fact of picking up a receiver to speak to a relative was considered too dangerous. Hugging another person was also out of the question – any visits from relatives would have to be conducted through a glass screen by phone. But nobody came to visit.

    Pages