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    November 03, 2017

    NEW YORK— The Guantánamo military judge handling the case of the alleged USS Cole bomber has ordered three civilian defense attorneys who resigned from the case over alleged breaches of attorney-client privilege to testify from Virginia by video feed to the Guantánamo courtroom Friday morning in a contempt hearing. The hearing will follow Monday’s contempt charge of lead defense counsel, Peter Baker, who is confined to his quarters at Guantánamo, as well as a decision by the Defense Department’s top prosecutor to end regular media availability on commission matters.

    Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Director, Daphne Eviatar, issued the following statement ahead of tomorrow’s hearing:

    “This week is further evidence that the military commissions are what we always predicted – a human rights calamity and costly sideshow. It’s time to give up the illusion that either true justice or any semblance of a fair trial will result from these never-ending proceedings.

    November 01, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

     

    NEW YORK— After President Trump said he would consider sending the man accused of yesterday’s attack in New York City, Sayfullo Saipov, to Guantánamo, Amnesty International USA Security with Human Rights Director, Daphne Eviatar, issued the following statement:

    “It would be a grave mistake to send Sayfullo Saipov to Guantánamo. He’s a criminal suspect and should be treated as such by the U.S. justice system. Guantánamo has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial – it must be closed, not expanded.”

    This statement can be found online at: https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/25018/

    October 24, 2017

    NEW YORK ­– As his original 120-day ban on refugees expires tomorrow, President Trump Administration is expected to announce additional restrictions on refugees – policies that will leave thousands of people in danger.

    “This announcement puts thousands of families and individuals at serious risk of injury or death,” said Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. “The people who will be hurt by this were on the brink of finding safety, and now they’re instead thrown into harm’s way again. Ripping families apart and subjecting refugees to yet more scrutiny does not keep anyone safer, and in fact exposes more people to danger. The Trump administration’s cruel policies are fueling an already vicious humanitarian crisis.”

    After imposing the refugee ban that effectively halved the Obama administration’s projected 2017 numbers from 110,000 to 55,000, President Trump has capped refugee admissions for next year at 45,000 – compared to the historic average of 85,000 a year. In raw numbers, the U.S. has will have taken in 97,000 fewer refugees since 2016.

    October 19, 2017

    On 20 October Amnesty International will launch a new briefing at the UN General Assembly, setting out measures to bring the use and transfer of armed drones in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.

    The briefing, Key principles on the use and transfer of armed drones, has been developed in response to the rapid proliferation of armed drones, and their use in extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings around the world.

    “The past few years have seen an alarming growth in the use of armed drones by states including the USA and the UK, yet the circumstances in which they are deployed remain shrouded in secrecy,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Arms Control Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    “What we do know is that their use has created a situation in which the whole world can be treated as a battlefield, and virtually anyone can count as collateral damage. Armed drones have been used to carry out unlawful killings with minimal oversight and accountability, and with devastating consequences for civilians in countries like Yemen and Afghanistan.

    October 18, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a federal judge’s decision to block the Trump administration from implementing the latest travel ban, Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:

    “This ruling will provide hope to thousands of people across the world. It’s a blow to the Trump administration’s attempts to tear families apart and block people fleeing horrific violence from gaining safety. This cruel and bigoted ban remains as senseless as ever. President Trump cannot continue to demonize people based on where they come from or how they worship. The Trump administration must end this legal battle and abandon the Muslim ban.”

    Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

    October 02, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a mass shooting last night in Las Vegas, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director, released the following statement:

    “Last night’s shooting in Las Vegas demonstrated an utter contempt for human life, and our thoughts are with the victims of these attacks and the city of Las Vegas. But thoughts must be backed up with actions to protect people from this kind of violence. No one’s life should be threatened just by walking down the street, going to school or attending a concert.

    “The U.S. government must uphold its obligations under international law and address gun violence as the human rights crisis that it is. It is critical to reform the current patchwork of federal, state and local laws to ensure everyone’s safety and security.”

    As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the U.S. government is obligated to protect people from gun violence.

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    September 25, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a revision of President Trump’s travel ban to now include restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, Naureen Shah, senior campaigns director for Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:

    “Since this ban was implemented 10 months ago, we’ve seen families torn apart and whole nations of people demonized for the crimes of a few. The order was a catastrophe not just for those seeking safety but for those who simply want to travel, work, or study in the United States. Today’s action neither relieves this tension nor keeps anyone safe.

    “Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet another version of government-sanctioned discrimination. It is senseless and cruel to ban whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence that the U.S. government wishes to keep out. This must not be normalized.”

    September 12, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Statement

    NEW YORK – Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily uphold the refugee ban, Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:

    “The Supreme Court today has dealt yet another devastating blow to vulnerable people who were on the cusp of obtaining safety for themselves and their families. They continue to be subjected to unimaginable violence and fear while their lives are in limbo. This ban is inherently cruel and no part of it should be allowed to stand.”

    CONTACT: media@aiusa.org

     

     

    September 05, 2017

    It’s not often we have positive news to share on death penalty cases. However, in August 2017 we heard back news on two cases in the US whereby the Governor in Missouri issued a stay of execution and the Governor in Arkansas announced his intent to commute a death sentence.

    On 22 August, the governor of Missouri issued a stay of execution for Marcellus Williams who was due to be put to death later that day. The governor issued a stay of execution so as that he could appoint a five-member Board of Inquiry to consider “all evidence presented to the jury, in addition to newly discovered DNA evidence, and any other relevant evidence not available to the jury”. The Board “shall report and make a recommendation to the Governor as to whether or not Williams should be executed or his sentence of death commuted”.

    August 30, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    NEW YORK – A letter from Amnesty International USA and local Texas groups Grassroots Leadership and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today raised heightened concerns about Hurricane Harvey’s impact on migrant populations and people seeking asylum.

    Writing to the heads of DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, the letter reads, in part:

    “This cannot be overstated: it would be unconscionable for DHS to contribute to the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Harvey by taking actions that separate families, deny vulnerable people access to asylum, and evade U.S. human rights obligations.

    “The threats of enforcement actions forced undocumented Texans to brave the storm rather than seek safety outside the path of the storm, pass checkpoints, or enter shelters. Fifty-two mothers and children were left at a bus station in San Antonio hours before the storm, with nowhere to go.”

    August 28, 2017

    By Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research, Amnesty International 

    Winter is coming. 

    Even if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, you know the iconic, sinister saying. In the TV show, it is muttered meaningfully as a warning not only that after a long summer a harsh winter is ahead, but that winter brings with it an existential threat to the world—an army of the dead. This threat makes all the vicious scheming, treachery and feuding look insignificant and petty. 

    As a human rights defender watching leaders around the world scapegoating and dividing to score political points, I can’t help thinking that winter may be coming for all of us—a dark future where protection of human rights won’t mean much anymore. 

    The “summer” was long and fruitful. Seventy years ago the world came together in 1948 and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated for the first time that human rights must be protected across “all peoples and all nations.”  

    August 28, 2017

    Photo: Four-year-old Carlos spent nearly half his life in immigration detention in the U.S. with his mother, Lorena. Now he and three other children and their mothers are free!

     

    GOOD NEWS: The Berks Kids are free!

    No child should grow up behind bars. But thanks to Amnesty supporters, courageous lawyers and activists on the ground, four children and their mothers are finally free after nearly 700 days in an immigration detention center in the United States!

    On 17 August, four-year-old Carlos and 16-year-old Michael along with their mothers, Lorena and Maribel (all names changed to protect their identities), were ordered released from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania by an immigration judge after nearly 700 days in detention. This follows the release of two other young boys and their mothers held in Berks for over 22 months on 7 and 14 August.

    August 25, 2017

    AI USA Release

    For the first time since the Supreme Court ruled against the state’s capital sentencing statute, Florida has executed a prisoner, killing Mark Asay via lethal injection.

    Amnesty International recently issued a report outlining the state’s response to the Supreme Court ruling.

    “There is no place in a just society for capital punishment, which is inherently cruel and arbitrary in application,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice at Amnesty International USA. “The state of Florida should be ashamed for resuming its machinery of death.

    “It’s too late for Mark Asay, but Florida still has a chance to be on the right side of history by commuting the sentences of all other death row prisoners and ending capital punishment once and for all.”

    August 21, 2017

    Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.

    “Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 US Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor’s reaction to a prosecutor’s subsequent decision to reject the death penalty.

    When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Scott immediately responded by ordering her replacement with a different prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. So far the Governor has transferred 26 cases to his preferred prosecutor.

    Racial discrimination was one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent – cited by State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position in Florida.

    August 18, 2017

    By Aubrey Harris, Amnesty Canada's Coordinator for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Follow Aubrey on Twitter @AmnestyCanadaDP

    The fact that torture occurred in Guantanamo Bay is not news. Not only did former president Barack Obama state it bluntly as “we tortured some people,” even former vice-president Dick Cheney implied it in his “dark side” quote justifying some forms of torture. International law, however, is explicit in it. The International Convention Against Torture makes clear that any statement extracted as the product of torture cannot be used except as proof that the torture occurred.

    Efforts to present the public perception of torture as “acceptable” exist not only in the tough-guy films of Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino, but most explicitly in the propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty.” For the first 25 minutes of the film, a man is portrayed being tortured by operatives at CIA black sites in order to obtain information to find Osama bin Laden.

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