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    January 16, 2015

    A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of “defending terrorism” (“l’apologie du terrorisme”) risks violating freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    All the arrests appear to be on the basis of statements made in the aftermath of the deadly attacks against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher supermarket and security forces in Paris on 7 and 9 January.

    “In a week in which world leaders and millions around the world have spoken out in defence of freedom of expression, the French authorities must be careful not to violate this right themselves,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “How the French authorities act in the aftermath of the horrific killings is the litmus test for its commitment to human rights for all.”

    January 07, 2015

    This morning’s deadly attack by gunmen on the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo is a chilling assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The attack, allegedly carried out by masked gunmen who fled the scene after engaging in a gunfight with police, reportedly left 12 people dead and several more wounded at the newspaper’s office.

    "This is a dark day for freedom of expression and a vibrant press culture. But above all, it is an appalling human tragedy,” said Stephan Oberreit, Director of Amnesty International France.

    “It is an atrocity that sought to kill journalists, suppress freedom of expression and sow fear. It must be utterly condemned and the French authorities must ensure all those responsible are brought to justice in a fair trial. Journalists under threat must be protected and allowed to carry out their work without fear of deadly violence.”

    Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical newspaper based in Paris, has faced controversy in the past for its publication of cartoons deemed to be insulting to Islam.

    October 24, 2014

    The decision to authorize the extradition to Russia of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov by the Lyon Court of Appeal (France) has set in motion a procedure that may eventually see him forcibly returned to Kazakhstan, where he is wanted on fraud charges, Amnesty International said today.

    “If extradited, Mukhtar Ablyazov will face serious human rights violations. Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “Russian security services collaborate routinely with the security apparatus in Kazakhstan. The French authorities must not send Ablyazov to any country where he could be threatened with onward transfer to Kazakhstan."

    October 20, 2014

    Dozens of families will be left homeless if French authorities go ahead with the forced eviction of a Roma camp in a Paris suburb this week, Amnesty International warned today.

    More than 200 Roma living in an informal settlement near Bobigny will be forcibly evicted from their homes within the next 48 hours, but many have not have been offered alternative housing.

    “This forced eviction would leave families – including children, the sick and the elderly – living on the streets, deprived of their human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The French authorities must halt the forced eviction until they can offer suitable alternative housing solutions that have been accepted by the Roma community after proper consultation.”

    According to international human rights standards, evictions should not render people homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations.

    June 17, 2014

    The apparent lynching of a Roma teenager in a Paris suburb that left him in a coma is just one of several recent alleged hate crimes against minorities that demand thorough investigations and not just condemnation by the French authorities, Amnesty International warned.

    Instead, the authorities have been focusing their resources on carrying out forced evictions that crack down on Roma and other minority communities, as well as migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.

    “By failing to bat an eyelid in the face of alleged hate crimes, the French authorities are incubating a climate of fear that will spawn more such vicious attacks. All those responsible must face thorough investigations and prosecutions that take into account any discriminatory motive behind the assaults,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2014

    Today's expulsion of an estimated 700 migrants and asylum-seekers from camps in northern France risks aggravating the health problems that the authorities say prompted the evictions, Amnesty International has said.

    French police this morning encircled the makeshift settlements occupied by migrants and asylum-seekers in the Calais area and began a process of dismantling them, justifying their actions as a response to a reported outbreak of scabies in the camps.

    "The French authorities seem to be using forced evictions as a solution to a healthcare emergency, which risks causing more problems than it solves. It is unclear where those evicted will be able to find new homes and how they will access the necessary health-care treatment,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.

    “Evicting people is not the answer; a well-thought-out and appropriate health-care plan is what is needed. Sadly this isn’t new; the French authorities have a record of carrying out mass forced evictions without providing adequate alternatives for those evicted.”

    February 14, 2014

    The French authorities must ensure the protection of a Ukrainian political refugee who sustained a horrific attack in his home in Strasbourg earlier this week, said Amnesty International.

    Andrei Fedosov, a human rights activist reported that he was attacked on Monday night by an unknown Russian native speaker.  He told Amnesty International that the masked assailant bound his hands and feet with tape and stabbed him in the stomach and the leg with a Stanley knife and a razor.  

    The attacker interrogated Andrei about his human rights activities and stole the hard disc from his computer.

    “This is an extremely worrying development. During the EuroMaydan anti-government protests activists have been abducted and tortured by unknown assailants in Ukraine, and at least four protestors have died. This is the first time that someone has been targeted across international borders,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s expert on Ukraine.

    “There is a real perceived risk to Andrei Fedosov’s life and the French authorities must do everything in their power to protect him.”

    January 09, 2014

    The French government must no allow the extradition of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, Amnesty International said today, shortly after a French court ruled that he should be sent to Russia or Ukraine to face fraud charges.

    “Today's decision by the French court flies in the face of the realities on the ground. Russian and Ukrainian security services collaborate routinely with the security apparatus in Kazakhstan,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia or Ukraine, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The French authorities must not send Ablyazov to any country where he will face serious human rights violations or be forced back to Kazakhstan."

    September 25, 2013

    The French government has failed to end the vicious circle of repeated forced evictions of Roma which have now reached record numbers, Amnesty International said in a report published today. The organization is calling for a ban on all forced evictions.
     
    More than 10,000 Roma were evicted from informal settlements during the first half of 2013.  

    “France makes no provisions for effective protection against forced evictions. In most cases they take place in a climate of hostility with no alternative housing proposed. Roma people are condemned to a life of constant insecurity, and forced to wander from one of makeshift camp to another. Forced evictions should be banned in law,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.
     
    There are some 20,000 Roma migrants living in France mostly from Romania, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia. Almost all of them are fleeing the chronic poverty and discrimination they face in their home countries.

    August 27, 2013

    The French authorities’ evictions of Romani communities across the country continue to flout international law a year after the government published an inter-ministerial circular on the issue, Amnesty International said from the scene of a forced eviction of 150 people outside Paris this morning. 

    Amnesty International’s France researcher witnessed how, beginning early this morning, police carried out the forced eviction of Romani families, including some 60 children, from a camp in Bobigny where some families had been living for up to three years. Half the camp’s children attend school locally, and have now been made homeless as school starts next week.

    Today’s eviction was just the latest in a series of such actions by the authorities, which have left hundreds homeless across France.

    August 01, 2013

    The authorities in France must ensure that Mukhtar Ablyazov has a full and fair extradition process and that he is not sent to any country that may return him to Kazakhstan where he will be at risk of torture and an unfair trial, Amnesty International said today.

    Kazakhstani national Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive banker, recognized refugee and key political opponent of the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was apprehended by French police on 31 July during a house raid in Mouans-Sartoux, near Cannes. It has been reported that the police were acting upon an extradition request from the Ukraine, where Ablyazov has been accused of financial crimes by the Ukrainian authorities.  

    Amnesty International believes there is a high risk that if extradited to Ukraine Ablyazov would be subjected to onward transfer to Kazakhstan where he would face an unfair trial and possible torture and other ill-treatment.

    “The Kazkhstani authorities want Mukhtar Ablyazov at all costs,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.

    April 25, 2013

    By George Harvey, the action circle coordinator on LGBT issues in Toronto.

     

      Amnesty International joins human rights enthusiasts everywhere in applauding the recent decision by the governments of Uruguay, New Zealand, and France to legalize same sex marriage.

    Equal marriage is an important step for the LGBTQ community on the path towards equality, freedom from discrimination and the right to live with dignity.

    The path towards marriage equality has been a challenging one and the courageous and determined work of equal rights activists should be acknowledged.  LGBTQ individuals have faced many challenges, even within the activist community.  It is important to realize that the loving relationship between two individuals of the same gender is just as deserving of the legal and social recognition that comes with the term marriage as every other relationship.

    April 03, 2013

    Over 200 people, mostly Romanian Roma, were forcibly evicted this morning from an informal settlement in greater Paris in a move Amnesty International has labelled shameful and callous. 

    Police evicted around 230 people at 7:00 am from their huts and caravans in Ris-Orangis on the outskirts of Paris, citing public health and safety concerns. It is the latest in a resumed wave of forced evictions of Roma across France over the past few weeks.

    “Evicting hundreds of people without offering any adequate alternative housing or support is a shameful and callous action that totally ignores France’s international human rights obligations,” said Marek Marczyński, Europe and Central Asia Program Deputy Director.

    The community were given 24 hours notice to leave the site, despite the lack of adequate housing being offered. 

    According to reports, only 38 had previously been offered any assistance with accommodation or employment. Local activists reported that the only alternative emergency accommodation offered required families to be separated, which the residents refused to accept.

    January 10, 2013

    The investigation into the gunning down of three Kurdish women activists in Paris must be prompt and thorough, Amnesty International said.

    Sakine Cansýz, a founder of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fidan Dogan and Leyla Söylemez were found shot dead at the “Kurdistan Information Office” on the evening of 9 January.

    “There must be justice for these apparently political killings – no stone must be left unturned in the investigation by the French authorities,” said John Dalhuisen,Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “The Turkish authorities must cooperate fully in the investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

    The killings come at time when the Government of Turkey and the PKK have begun peace negotiations.

    “Both sides must ensure that the killings do not derail negotiations aimed at ending the decades long conflict and ongoing human rights abuses,” said Dalhuisen.

    The investigation into the gunning down of three Kurdish women activists in Paris must be prompt and thorough, Amnesty International said.

    Sakine Cansýz, a founder of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fidan Dogan and Leyla Söylemez were found shot dead at the “Kurdistan Information Office” on the evening of 9 January.

    “There must be justice for these apparently political killings – no stone must be left unturned in the investigation by the French authorities,” said John Dalhuisen,Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    “The Turkish authorities must cooperate fully in the investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

    The killings come at time when the Government of Turkey and the PKK have begun peace negotiations.

    “Both sides must ensure that the killings do not derail negotiations aimed at ending the decades long conflict and ongoing human rights abuses,” said Dalhuisen.

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