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    January 17, 2014

    The Texas authorities must halt the execution of Mexican national Edgar Arias Tamayo, set to take place on 22 January, which would violate an international court order, Amnesty International said today.

    “Texas has been shamefully insistent in scheduling this execution in the full knowledge that to carry it out will violate international law,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.

    Edgar Arias Tamayo was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston police officer in January 1994. The execution is set to go ahead despite an order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004.

    Last September, US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to the Texas Governor, Rick Perry, urging that an execution date not be set for Edgar Tamayo. The letter reiterated that the ICJ’s ruling “is binding on the United States under international law”.

    “The federal authorities, and officials around the country, should not let up on Texas. A Texas execution is a US execution. Even if Texas officials don’t care about this, those in the rest of the country should,” said Rob Freer.

    January 06, 2014

    US corporate interests must not be allowed to invalidate the Conflict Minerals Rule, which requires companies to investigate and disclose whether their products contain certain minerals that help fund armed groups in mineral-rich countries in Africa, said Amnesty International today.

    The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear a challenge by three industry groups against the rule on Tuesday. Amnesty International joined the lawsuit to support the rule.

    “This legal challenge to the Conflict Minerals Rule is nothing but a crass effort by industry groups to put profits ahead of principles,” said Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

    “The rule was required by Congress to save lives and stop human rights abuses by curbing the flow of funding to armed groups operating with impunity in the areas these minerals are mined – in Democratic Republic of the Congo and other central African countries.”

    The Conflict Minerals Rule was required by the US Congress in 2010 as part of a raft of measures to reform business practices after the 2008 economic downturn.

    January 06, 2014

    Released at 0:01 GMT 6 January 2014

    Authorities in the US state of Louisiana must end their campaign of vengeance against Albert Woodfox and release him after nearly four decades of cruel solitary confinement, Amnesty International said on the eve of a Federal Court of Appeals hearing on his case.

    “The state of Louisiana’s action is not in the interests of justice. Its insistence in keeping Albert Woodfox behind bars after decades in solitary confinement amounts to a campaign of vengeance, paid with taxpayers’ money,” said Tessa Murphy, USA campaigner at Amnesty International.

    “It is incomprehensible that the state continues to keep him behind bars. This conviction has been overturned three times in what is a deeply flawed case, yet Louisiana has opposed every remedy ordered by the courts.”

    November 20, 2013
    Grant clemency to Chelsea Manning and release her

    By Justin Mazzola, attorney and researcher with Amnesty International USA

    Let’s all take a trip down memory lane to our Sesame Street days and engage in the following exercise of “Which One Doesn’t Belong”:

    November 04, 2013

    Any potential trial of whistleblower Edward Snowden would amount to political persecution if it covers his revelations about the US government’s human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    Over the weekend top US officials, including the White House and leading lawmakers, went on the record saying the former intelligence agency contractor – who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia – should not receive clemency for leaking information about the USA’s wide-reaching surveillance programs. 

    “Edward Snowden is a whistleblower who has disclosed an unlawful global digital surveillance program that has violated the right to privacy of millions of people. As such, he has grounds to seek asylum abroad out of well-founded fears the USA would persecute him for his actions,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Program Director at Amnesty International.

    October 22, 2013

    New evidence indicates that the USA has carried out unlawful killings in Pakistan through drone attacks, some of which could even amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said in a major new report released today.

    The report, “’Will I be next?’ US drone strikes in Pakistan”, is one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the US drone program from a human rights perspective.

    It documents recent killings in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas and the almost complete absence of transparency around the US drone program.

    “Secrecy surrounding the drones program gives the US administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law. It’s time for the USA to come clean about the drones program and hold those responsible for these violations to account,” said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.

    “What hope for redress can there be for victims of drone attacks and their families when the USA won’t even acknowledge its responsibility for particular strikes?”

    October 10, 2013

    Following the death of Herman Wallace last Friday, who was held in solitary confinement for over 40 years, Amnesty International is launching a campaign for the release of his co-defendant Albert Woodfox. He too has been held in cruel conditions of isolation following the deeply flawed trials.

    "Albert Woodfox has been in solitary confinement for decades, even though the case against him was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors. Enough is enough. The state of Louisiana must accept the federal court’s ruling and release Albert Woodfox from prison,” said Tessa Murphy, USA campaigner at Amnesty International.

    Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were both convicted of the 1972 murder of prison guard, Brent Miller. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favourable treatment in return for his testimony.

    Both men have robustly denied any involvement in the crime. They believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

    October 04, 2013

    Justice deferred to the end

    Today is a sad day for human rights and justice.

    Herman Wallace, the 71-year-old man who spent over 41 years in solitary confinement in prison in Louisiana, finally passed away after losing his battle with liver cancer.

    The only solace was that he died a free man. Last week a federal judge overturned his conviction.

    Even then, consistent with their decades-long obsession with keeping Herman Wallace behind bars, the state of Louisiana appealed against the court order for his immediate release.

    Thankfully, within hours, the same federal judge denied the appeal and threatened to hold the state in contempt of court. Only then did the state finally release Herman Wallace.

    He was so weak that he left the prison by ambulance, to be taken directly to hospital.

    From the unsafe conviction at his deeply flawed trial in 1974, through 41 years of confinement in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions, to a belated terminal diagnosis and his death, Herman Wallace’s treatment at the hands of the state was dogged by a fundamental disregard for his human rights.

    October 01, 2013

    The decision to overturn the conviction of a terminally ill man held in solitary confinement for more than 41 years after a flawed trial is a positive step but long overdue after four decades of injustice, Amnesty International said.

    “The case of Herman Wallace is a tragic example of ‘justice’ gone wrong in the USA. Finally a federal court has acknowledged some of the unfairness surrounding this case. However this sadly comes too late for lasting benefit as he is at death’s door with terminal cancer,” said Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    “The state must not now try to block his release.”

    Herman Wallace, 71, was placed in solitary confinement in Louisiana State prison after being convicted in 1974 of the murder of prison guard Brent Miller.

    Today’s ruling focused on one aspect of his trial: the systematic exclusion of women from the grand jury. Many other irregularities have been raised over the years but have been rejected by the state courts.

    September 24, 2013

    Following reports that Secretary of State John Kerry will sign the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of the USA on Wednesday morning, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General commented:

    “This is a milestone towards ending the flow of conventional arms that fuel atrocities and abuse. The US is the world's largest arms dealer, but has so far had a mixed record of suspending arms supplies on human rights grounds.

    “We now need to see this commitment by the US - and the 86 other countries that have signed the Arms Trade Treaty - matched by action. They must implement the Treaty and bring to an end the supply of weapons to countries where they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations.

    “The tragic situation in Syria underlines the horrific human cost of the reckless global arms trade. The Arms Trade Treaty is the opportunity to prevent such human suffering in the future. Governments must seize this once in a lifetime opportunity. The world is now waiting for China and Russia to match the US commitment."

    August 30, 2013

    The refusal by California’s prison authorities to explore options to resolve the hunger strike crisis in the state’s high security units is a dangerous move that could lead to the deaths of inmates in their custody, Amnesty International said.

    More than 30,000 prisoners joined a hunger strike last July over inhumane detention conditions in California’s security housing units (SHUs). More than 70 are still refusing food.

    “It’s nothing short of appalling that instead of dealing with the complaints, California’s prison authorities have chosen to threaten inmates with force-feeding and disciplinary measures, and have moved some to other facilities,” said Tessa Murphy, Campaigner on the USA at Amnesty International.  

    “No one should be punished for exercising the right to peaceful protest. California prison authorities must stop toying with people’s lives and meet with the mediation team to begin a meaningful process of negotiation.”

    Amnesty International has also received reports that some of those on hunger strike have been denied medical care.

    August 21, 2013

    President Obama should commute US Army Private Bradley Manning’s sentence to time already served to allow his immediate release, Amnesty International said today.

    Military judge Col Denise Lind today sentenced the Wikileaks source to 35 years in military prison – out of a possible 90 – for leaking reams of classified information. He has already served more than three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane.

    “Bradley Manning acted on the belief that he could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. His revelations included reports on battlefield detentions and previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in US helicopter attacks, information which should always have been subject to public scrutiny,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.  

    August 01, 2013

    Russia's decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum is a positive development and should allow governments and civil society to focus on the sweeping nature and unlawfulness of the US government’s surveillance programs.

    “The drama of the five weeks since Snowden’s arrival in Russia has distracted attention from the key issue: how the ever-burgeoning security apparatus in the US has used secret courts to undertake massive, sweeping and systematic invasions into the right to privacy of people living in the USA,” said Widney Brown, senior director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “Let’s not lose sight of why Snowden was forced to seek asylum in Russia. Once he disclosed the full scope of the US government’s actions, they cancelled his passport and called him a criminal.

    “Freedom of expression – a fundamental human right – protects speech that reveals credible evidence of unlawful government action. Under both international law and the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, the US government’s actions are unlawful.”

    July 31, 2013

    US authorities have failed to deliver justice for serious human rights violations committed in the context of counter-terror operations dating back more than a decade, Amnesty International said as the sentencing phase opened today in the military trial of Army Private Bradley Manning.

    Manning, who exposed potential breaches of international humanitarian law and other violations by US forces, could face up to 136 years in prison after being convicted of 20 separate charges – including theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act.

    “There’s a stunning contrast between the extraordinarily severe sentence Bradley Manning could receive and the leniency or complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the types of grave human rights violations he exposed,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    July 30, 2013

    Despite the acquittal of Private Bradley Manning of the most serious “aiding the enemy” charge against him, today's verdict reveals the US government's misplaced priorities on national security by finding him guilty today of a range of other charges, Amnesty International said.  

    “The government’s pursuit of the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge was a serious overreach of the law, not least because there was no credible evidence of Manning’s intent to harm the USA by releasing classified information to Wikileaks,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “The government’s priorities are upside down. The US government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence.

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