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Economic and Social Rights

    August 17, 2017
      The terrible aftermath of the mudslides in Sierra Leone, which have left more than 3000 people homeless, grimly illustrates the human cost of the government’s failure to implement housing and land policies, said Amnesty International.   Over 400 people were killed in the mudslide, which struck in the early hours of Monday 14 August in the Regent community of the capital, Freetown, with victims largely those living in informal settlements. With hundreds of people still missing, the shocking death toll is expected to rise substantially.   “Right now, Sierra Leone needs immediate assistance to save lives and provide for those who have lost their homes, but we should also ask why so many people died. While flooding is a natural disaster, the scale of the human tragedy in Freetown is, sadly, very much man-made,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.  
    June 14, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ latest decision to slash the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences for residents who have already endured a decade of suffering under Israel’s brutal blockade, Amnesty International has warned.

    The latest round of power cuts announced by Israel on 11 June restricting the electricity supply to between two and three hours a day, will have a disastrous impact on Gaza’s battered infrastructure and cause a public health disaster. The move will also endanger thousands of lives including those of hospital patients with chronic conditions or in intensive care, including babies on life support.

    “For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. Under the burden of the illegal blockade and three armed conflicts, the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely. The latest power cuts risk turning an already dire situation into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 31, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    In response to reports that President Donald Trump is expected to pull the USA from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said:

    “Let there be no doubt, President Trump’s expected decision to withdraw the USA from the global climate deal is an assault on a range of human rights putting millions of people’s lives and wellbeing around the world in severe jeopardy. By refusing to join other nations in taking necessary steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, the President is effectively saying: ‘Let them drown, burn and starve’.”

    May 31, 2017

    Chinese authorities must release three labour activists who were investigating labour conditions at factories that make shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label, Amnesty International said.

    Hua Haifeng, who works for New York based NGO China Labour Watch, was detained by mainland police after he attempted to travel to Hong Kong last week to publicize the findings of the undercover investigation. Two of his colleagues, Li Zhao and Su Heng, are also missing and are feared detained.

    “Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao and Su Heng must be released if they are being held solely for investigating possible labour abuses at factories making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label. Activists exposing potential human rights abuses deserve protection not persecution from the authorities,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The trio appear to be the latest to fall foul of the Chinese authorities’ aggressive campaign against human rights activists who have any ties to overseas organizations, using the pretence of “national security”.”

     

    November 11, 2016

    The Lagos State authorities must take immediate steps to provide alternative accommodation for as many as 30,000 people who were made homeless, in direct contravention of a court order, when their homes were deliberately set alight in the Otodo Gbame community in Lekki, Lagos, Amnesty International said today.

    Although it is unclear who started the first fire on the morning of Wednesday 9 November, eyewitnesses have told the organization that police present did not attempt to stop the fire. Instead, they say they were chased away by police officers when they attempted to put it out. After the fire stopped in the afternoon, the police and a demolition team returned overnight with a bulldozer. Eyewitnesses say that the police then started the fire again, forcibly evicting thousands from their homes. At no point were firefighters seen.

    August 22, 2016

    In response to the opening today of the trial of Ahmad Al-Fadi Al-Mahdi, an alleged senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, for attacks on mosques and mausoleums in Timbuktu in 2012, Amnesty International’s Africa Senior Legal Advisor Erica Bussey said:

     

    “Attacks against religious and historical monuments violate cultural rights and can cause significant harm to the local and sometimes broader communities. They are war crimes and those suspected of carrying out such attacks should be prosecuted.”

     

    “However, while this case breaks new ground for the ICC, we must not lose sight of the need to ensure accountability for other crimes under international law, including murder, rape and torture of civilians that have been committed in Mali since 2012.”

     

    For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    Background

    March 30, 2016

    Released 00.01 BST (01:01 GMT) 31 March 2016

    First evidence of migrant exploitation on 2022 World Cup site

    Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labour, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    The report, “The ugly side of the beautiful game: Labour exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup venue”, blasts FIFA’s shocking indifference to appalling treatment of migrant workers. The number of people working on World Cup sites is set to surge almost ten-fold to around 36,000 in the next two years.

    “The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

    “Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.”

    March 07, 2016

    The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights issued its Concluding Observations today following its review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights last month.  It is the Committee’s first review of Canada since 2006 and the first review of Canada by any UN human rights body under Prime Minister Trudeau’s government. 

    The Committee has forcefully rejected the position advanced by the government on numerous occasions over many years that economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights are of a different nature and not susceptible to the same level of judicial enforcement as civil and political rights.

    October 27, 2015

    Released on 00:01 GMT Wednesday 28 October 2015

    An estimated 50,000 or more people have been forcibly evicted from their homes as part of a push to ‘beautify’ the capital of Turkmenistan ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Amnesty International can reveal today as it published satellite images showing the extent of the devastation.

    Amnesty International’s analysis of satellite images shows that 5,000 houses, each home to an average of five people, were destroyed in the Choganly neighbourhood near Ashgabat between March 2014 and April 2015. The organization has since learned that the entire neighbourhood – comprising more than 10,000 houses – was entirely razed to the ground by September and that fresh demolitions are continuing in other areas of the capital rendering many families homeless.

    October 27, 2015

    A UN vote to lift the US embargo on Cuba today sends, once again, a strong message to US President Barack Obama and Congress about the dire human rights impact of the economic embargo on ordinary Cubans, said Amnesty International. 

    “Claiming to be open to fostering a new kind of relation with the Cuban authorities on the one hand and maintaining an economic embargo that prevents ordinary Cubans from accessing medicines and other basic commodities on the other is a complete incongruence on the part of the US and greatly contributes to further undermine human rights in Cuba,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The US Congress must listen to the loud message sent by the international community through the UN today and lift an embargo that has no place in today’s world.” 

    Earlier today, 191 countries voted in favor of the resolution calling on the USA to lift its economic embargo against Cuba. Only the USA and Israel voted against it. 

    September 18, 2015

    Authorities in Lagos state must act immediately to protect hundreds of families in the informal settlement of Badia East who are being forcibly evicted today, said Amnesty International.

    Demolitions began this afternoon after police had been in the community earlier asking residents to move out. Bulldozers had arrived in the informal settlement in the early hours of Friday morning, after repossession notices were daubed across buildings with red paint yesterday. Residents were given just one day's notice of the demolition and to date, no adequate remedy or alternative housing has been offered and the local chief has not conducted any formal consultation with the affected residents.

    "Hundreds of people in Badia East woke up this morning to the frightening sight of bulldozers outside their homes. With wholly inadequate notice, they are at serious risk of being forcibly evicted because of a court ruling which they have no chance to appeal,” said Morayo Adebayo, Nigeria Researcher for Amnesty International.

    June 25, 2015

    TORONTO, June 25, 2015 - The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts.

    With no evidence before them, two out of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a controversial lower court decision that issues of homelessness do not belong in the courtroom. The Supreme Court decision affirms this ruling and brings to a close the five year wait by homeless and precariously housed applicants to have 10,000 pages of evidence detailing the impact of homelessness on hundreds of thousands of people across the country presented to the court.

    “The housing and homelessness crisis is directly related to policy decisions that governments make every day,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, one of sixteen organizations that intervened in the case. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the troubling ways that those decisions impact and even violate the rights of some of the most marginalized communities in Canada remain unexamined.”

    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.

    December 23, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 24 December 2014

    Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to Christmas and New Year, said Amnesty International.

    “As winter sets in, the already desperate situation in eastern Ukraine is being made even worse by the volunteer battalions preventing food aid and medicine from reaching those in need. It is no secret that the region is facing a humanitarian disaster with many already at risk of starvation,” said Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.

    “These battalions often act like renegade gangs and urgently need to be brought under control. Denying food to people caught up in a conflict is against international law and the perpetrators must be held to account.”

    Amnesty International has received information that the pro-Kyiv battalions, which include Dnipro-1 and Aidar, have blocked aid entering territories controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR).

    November 14, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 15 November 2014

    Leaders of the G20 states gathering this week-end in Australia must act immediately to ensure all the personnel, equipment and funding required to halt the Ebola outbreak are made available without any discrimination, a number of leading  international non-governmental organisations said today.

    Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid are collectively present in all the three affected countries with a clear analysis of the tremendous needs still to be addressed.

    These five international non-governmental organizations have launched a petition to the world’s 20 largest economies, to take concrete actions to win the fight against the Ebola disease.

    Within a couple of weeks, 165,490 people around the world signed the petition to express solidarity with communities affected by the Ebola outbreak and remind the G20 leaders that the window to stop the outbreak from spiralling out of control is closing fast.

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