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    August 30, 2015

    An Amnesty International UK Release

    “It is completely proper that that journalists should cover this important story. The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic state is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”

    Three journalists working for VICE News who have been detained in Turkey, should be released immediately unless the authorities can demonstrate credible evidence of criminal acts, said Amnesty International.

    Two UK-based journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury and a third journalist were detained by anti-terrorism police officers on Thursday night in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır in south-east Turkey.

    VICE news told Amnesty that the detentions took place while the journalists were filming clashes between police and pro- Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) youths taking place in the city.

    Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher, said:

    “This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them. They should release the journalists immediately.

    July 23, 2015

    • Government refuses to investigate commodities giant Trafigura
    • Authorities lack tools and resources to take action
    • New laws and better resources needed to tackle corporate crime

    In a startling admission UK authorities have informed Amnesty International that they do not have the tools, resources or expertise to investigate whether the multinational commodities giant Trafigura conspired to dump toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.

    The statement came after Amnesty International presented a legal brief and 5,000 page dossier to UK authorities containing a raft of evidence that Trafigura’s London-based staff may have intentionally orchestrated the dumping of the waste in Côte d’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan in August 2006.

    After the dumping more than 100,000 people sought medical attention. Côte d’Ivoire authorities reported at least 15 deaths.

    “The fact that the UK authorities do not have the tools, expertise or resources to investigate the case is truly shocking. This is tantamount to giving multinational companies carte

    July 10, 2015

    Anmesty's letter warns surveillance will have ‘chilling effect’ on human rights organizations.

    The UK should hold an independent judge-led inquiry into surveillance of human rights organizations by UK security services, Amnesty International said today in a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron.

    The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which oversees surveillance matters in the UK, informed Amnesty International last week that the UK has been intercepting, accessing and storing its communications, but is yet to provide an explanation as to why.

    "The Prime Minister needs to explain why the UK government is subjecting law-abiding human rights organizations to surveillance. This revelation makes it vividly clear that mass surveillance has gone too far. We must finally have proper checks and balances," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary-General.

    July 03, 2015

    By Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. Follow Sherif on Twitter @sherifea

    Just after 4pm yesterday, Amnesty International received an email from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which hears cases related to UK intelligence agencies. The message was brief but it dropped a bombshell.

    It said there had been a mistake in the tribunal’s judgment 10 days earlier in a case brought by 10 human rights organizations against the UK’s mass surveillance programmes. Contrary to the original ruling, our communications at Amnesty International had, in fact, been under illegal surveillance by GCHQ, the UK’s signals intelligence agency. Incredibly, the initial judgment had named the wrong organization – the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – and it took 10 days to correct the astonishing mix-up.

    July 01, 2015

    In a shocking revelation, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today notified Amnesty International that UK government agencies had spied on the organization by intercepting, accessing and storing its communications.

    In an email sent today, the Tribunal informed Amnesty International its 22 June ruling had mistakenly identified one of two NGOs which it found had been subjected to unlawful surveillance by the UK government. Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

    The NGOs were among 10 organizations that launched a legal challenge against suspected unlawful mass surveillance of their work by the UK’s spy agencies.

    May 14, 2015

    Amnesty International UK

    Released 12.00HRS BST (GMT+1) THURSDAY 14 MAY 2015

    In response to a survey from a coalition of leading NGOs, sports organisations and trade unions, only one of the four candidates for the FIFA presidency has set out a plan to address human rights, labour rights and corruption issues if successful in their bid for the top job at world football’s governing body.

    The Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) sent a questionnaire to the candidates - Sepp Blatter, Luis Figo, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Michael van Praag - last month. It asked specific questions about abuses linked to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and about the FIFA reform process. The FIFA presidential election takes place on 29 May in Zurich.

    All four candidates responded to the survey, the first time they have been asked to answer for human rights and transparency crises around World Cups and in FIFA’s wider work. Only Michael van Praag made a detailed, personal pledge to address the issues raised by the SRA.

    February 06, 2015

    Amnesty International UK Release

    ‘This is an historic victory in the age-old battle for the right to privacy and free expression’ – Rachel Logan

    Amnesty International and others won an historic victory today as the legal body that oversees the practices of the UK secret services acknowledged that the USA and the UK’s intelligence sharing on communications surveillance violated human rights law.

    Today’s ruling was handed down by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which has jurisdiction over the practices of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6. The Tribunal said that until now, the UK government’s procedures' for “receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK, which have been obtained by US authorities” violated international human rights standards.

    “This is an historic victory in the age-old battle for the right to privacy and free expression,” said Rachel Logan, Amnesty UK’s legal programme director.

    January 30, 2015

    The UK authorities must respond urgently to a statement today by a former Bush Administration staffer that interrogations of CIA detainees took place on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Amnesty International said.

    Lawrence Wilkerson the Chief of Staff to the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell told Vice News that after leaving office in 2005, intelligence sources had informed him that Diego Garcia had been used as a site “where people were temporarily housed and interrogated from time to time."

    "The UK has consistently evaded the question of Diego Garcia. This new information must finally trigger a truthful response from the UK authorities. Was Diego Garcia used for detention and interrogation by the USA? And if so, who will be held to account for those patently illegal practices?," said Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    December 05, 2014

    An Amnesty International UK Release

    “We will now appeal to Strasbourg, who might not be as inclined to put their trust in the UK government given what we know so far.”- Rachel Logan

    The tribunal which oversees the practices of the UK secret services today ruled that the law governing the UK’s communications surveillance practices complies with the Human Rights Act, in what Amnesty International said was a ‘disappointing if unsurprising’ ruling which will now be appealed in Strasbourg.

    The decision by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) is part of a legal challenge against the UK intelligence agencies brought by Amnesty International, Privacy International, Liberty and others following revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden. It says that there are sufficient clear limits in law and sufficient oversight of the government’s surveillance practices to satisfy its human rights obligations.

    November 24, 2014

    ‘A request to the European Court must be lodged within the next two weeks. The clock is ticking’ - Colm O’Gorman

    Allegations that the UK government sanctioned the use of torture and ill-treatment in Northern Ireland in the 1970s should be re-examined by the European Court of Human Rights and subject to a new independent investigation. 

    That is the call from Amnesty International, which is urging the Irish government to request a re-opening of the landmark 1978 Ireland v UK judgment involving the torture and ill-treatment of the 14 so-called ‘hooded men’, who were interned in Northern Ireland in 1971.

    The call was supported by the ‘hooded men’ at an Amnesty International press conference in Dublin this morning.

    November 20, 2014

    UK authorities must launch a long-overdue criminal investigation into a British company’s role in one of the worst toxic waste dumping incidents of the last decade, Amnesty International said today after the Environment Agency finally agreed to review evidence submitted by the organization.

    It took the threat of court action for the agency to backpedal from its earlier refusal to review a legal brief making the case that UK-based Trafigura Limited may have conspired to dump the toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.

    The August 2006 incident triggered an environmental and health disaster in Abidjan: at least 15 people are reported to have died, more than 100,000 sought urgent medical assistance and contamination still lingers despite extensive clean-up.

    “Refusing to investigate Trafigura’s role in what was a devastating crime showed contempt for the UK’s international human rights obligations. The glaring absence of any deterrent gives UK-based corporations a green light to commit serious abuses abroad,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. 

    October 30, 2014

    Today’s decision of the Court of Appeal in London permitting a lawsuit regarding illegal transfer, torture and other ill-treatment to proceed puts the onus on the UK government to answer allegations for its role in a notorious rendition case, Amnesty International said.

    Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, a married couple, demand justice for their abduction in 2004 and their illegal transfer to Libya where they were detained, tortured and ill-treated at the hands of the US and Libyan governments, with the knowledge and cooperation of UK officials.

    “The government argued that UK officials should not be held responsible for their involvement in human rights violations, including torture, as long as such illegal acts were committed in cooperation with a foreign government and outside the UK. The Appeals Court rightly rejected this argument,” said John Dalhuisen, director of Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia programme.

    July 18, 2014

    Today's closure of a week-long hearing into allegations that the UK government has been illegally intercepting millions of communications, including those of Amnesty International, concludes an exercise that often descended into pure farce, the organization said.

    "This week's hearing descended at times into the realms of farce and fantasy - thanks to the government's insistence they would neither confirm nor deny any of their surveillance activities," said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International's Senior Director for Law and Policy, speaking at the close of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal hearing.

    "Without being able to deal with concrete examples, discussing the lawfulness of mass surveillance became an exercise in absurdity. We were pursuing our challenge in a legal black hole."

    July 11, 2014

    Amnesty International and Privacy International have accused the UK government of trying to rush through legislation in an attempt to deflect from a landmark hearing starting Monday, challenging the validity of UK spy agencies’ justification for mass surveillance of British citizens’ social media use.

    “The UK government is manipulating national laws to ensure it can continue to flout international ones,” said Michael Bochenek, Senior Director for Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “Clearly Number 10 would rather move the goalposts than play by the rules.”

    Just two working days before the start of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal hearing, UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the government is fast-tracking a new bill regulating internet surveillance, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. She claimed the draft law will ‘put beyond doubt the application of our laws on interception’.

    June 17, 2014

    Britain’s top counter-terrorism official has been forced to reveal a secret government policy justifying the mass surveillance of every Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google user in the UK, a group of rights organizations announced today.

    The organizations published the policy, described in a written statement by Charles Farr, Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, after they brought a legal challenge against the UK government.

    The document reveals that UK intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) believes it is entitled to indiscriminately intercept web searches by British residents or communications between British residents.

    “British citizens will be alarmed to see their government justifying industrial-scale intrusion into their communications,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Law and Policy.

    “The public should demand an end to this wholesale violation of their right to privacy.” 

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