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    January 23, 2017

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner, Amnesty Internatioanl Canada

    Amnesty yellow mingled with the Women’s March on Washington’s signature pink toques at solidarity marches from St. John's to Victoria on Saturday, January 21. Amnesty supporters were amongst the 3+ million march participants worldwide. We marched against fear, hate, and in support of love, equality and justice. We marched for women’s rights and for LGBTI rights.





    On inauguration day, many women and LGBTI people felt invisible in the president’s speech, erased from the White House’s list of policy priorities, and concerned about the potential impacts of new policies on civil liberties, the shrinking space for civil society, women’s rights, and LGBTI rights.

    January 16, 2017

    By Amnesty International Staff

    Today we honour the birthday of Martin Luther King, American civil rights activist and champion of non-violent resistance. Here we remember some of his more powerful words.
      On justice

    1. “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

    2.  “We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.”

    3. “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”
     

    On non-violence

    4. “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

    5. “Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

    January 11, 2017

    On Saturday, January 21, the day after the US presidential inauguration, Amnesty International supporters will be amongst the hundreds of thousands of people marching in Washington, DC in support of women’s rights. Not able to travel to Washington, DC? Join one of the solidarity marches taking place across Canada.

    November 24, 2016
    By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    That which unites us is always greater than that which divides us. Yet, around the world, the forces of division seem to be gathering momentum. Walls rising up along borders, hatred and fear welling up within and between populations, repressive laws assailing basic freedoms.

    The US election campaign, the latest development in this deeply troubling trend, caused global shockwaves. After campaigning with a constant refrain of misogyny and xenophobia, Donald J. Trump will be the next US President. Since the election, the world has been coming to terms with this fact, though its implications have yet to be fathomed fully.

    For human rights activists in particular, who already find themselves embattled and “undesirable” in many countries, it raises the stakes immensely that the President-elect of one of the world’s most powerful nations put forward a political platform that championed hate, threatening to disavow many basic human rights protections.

    November 18, 2016
    President Elect Donald Trump

    By Margaret Huang

    This letter originally appeared on Medium

    Dear President-elect Trump:

    November 14, 2016

     By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

    In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

    Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy.

     

    September 20, 2016

    By Joshua Franco, Researcher/Advisor on Technology and Human Rights. Follow Joshua on Twitter @joshyrama

    Three years ago, when Edward Snowden was first revealed to be the source of news reports about unlawful mass surveillance programs by the US government, he said, “I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

    Now, three years later, in the midst of a campaign by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others to pardon Snowden, that risk appears to be greater than ever. A recent editorial by the Washington Post (and at least one other similar piece by Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith) are arguing against a pardon for Snowden. In doing so, they risk dangerously - and incorrectly - minimizing the gravity of the human rights abuses he revealed in an effort to deny a pardon to the whistleblower himself.

    These arguments are based on a few flawed premises that need to be corrected.

    Premise 1: There is no privacy overseas

    September 02, 2015

    Work on Maher Arar’s case has been one of our most intensive campaigns for justice spanning well over a decade. Here are some of the highlights:

    August 21, 2015

     

    Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Two years after she was first sentenced, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

     

    Q. Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

    These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had this complete and detailed a record of what modern warfare actually looks like. Once you realize that the co-ordinates represent a real place where people live; that the dates happened in our recent history; that the numbers are actually human lives – with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear, and nightmares that come with them – then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are.

    April 08, 2015

    by Kristin Hulaas Sunde, editor of Wire magazine for @AmnestyOnline

    Amnesty activists took action for Chelsea Manning an incredible 241,289 times – including by sending her over 17,000 letters and cards – during our global Write for Rights campaign last December.

    In return, the former army intelligence analyst sent us this message of thanks from her prison cell in Kansas, USA, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks.

    Chelsea’s letter to Amnesty's activists worldwide:

    I wanted to thank all of you so very much for your actions of support and solidarity. I understand that over 200,000 actions were taken - that’s absolutely incredible!

    I am also so grateful for all the heartfelt support from the tens of thousands of people out there who took the time to write to me and the President [Barack Obama, asking him to pardon and release her].

    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.

    November 27, 2014

    By Cindy Ko and Adotei Akwei from Amnesty International USA

    It is time for the Obama administration to ensure implementation of standardized sexual assault policies aimed at helping ensure that Indigenous survivors of sexual violence  can access medical treatment and support services. Indigenous women face disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) compiled statistics that show over one in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetimes. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general.

    In order to achieve justice, survivors frequently have to navigate a maze of tribal, state and federal law. These complex jurisdictional rules undermine equality before the law and often allow perpetrators to evade justice. At all levels, law enforcement and justice systems are failing to ensure justice for Indigenous survivors of sexual violence – their cases may not be investigated, vital evidence may not be collected via a “rape kit” and their cases may never be prosecuted.

    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.

    October 14, 2014

    By Tessa Murphy, Campaigner on the USA at Amnesty International.

    The breathlessness was overwhelming. Standing in that small, dark cell, surrounded by nothing but three concrete walls, a dank toilet, a small sink, a thin mattress, a concrete slab and a perforated metal door that barely let any air in, the oppressive claustrophobia was hard to control.

    This was not the first time I had set foot in a US prison, but it was the first time I had experienced what an isolation cell can do to you.

    Everything about that room – the lack of windows, or natural light, or fresh air, the very thought of not being allowed any human interaction – seems to be designed to dehumanise. The basic penal concept of reform and social rehabilitation is excluded inside those three walls.

    In solitary, punishment is king. The mere thought of spending more than a few minutes in that place was almost unbearable.

    And then, a prisoner told me and my colleague that we were the first outsiders he had seen in 22 years.

    July 31, 2014
    Aubrey Harris, Campaign against the death penalty coordinator, Amnesty International Canada

    Another ‘botched’ execution in the United States. There have been several this year – the most recent last Wednesday when Arizona spent two hours torturing Joseph Wood to death. The time has come to acknowledge these executions cannot possibly be called ‘botched’ anymore. This torture can only be described as deliberate.

    “Botched” means that a process was ‘fouled up by incompetence or carelessness.’ Arguably carelessness is one possible explanation – but it is well known that the two drug combination used Wednesday in Arizona would result in prolonged and painful death. The US Supreme Court and others seem so willing to ignore evidence and expert testimony that there is no longer any reason to believe that a “humane” execution is intended or possible.

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