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    June 13, 2016

    The Israeli military today renewed for six months the detention of Palestinian circus performer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha, who has been held without charge since his arrest in December 2015, in a case that exemplifies the authorities’ arbitrary and repressive use of administrative detention, said Amnesty International.

    Mohammad Abu Sakha performs as a clown and teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah, where he specializes in working with children with learning difficulties.

    “The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful example of the Israeli authorities’ abusive use of administrative detention. He has already spent more than six months behind bars without being charged or allowed to stand trial - he has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “The Israeli authorities must either charge Mohammad Abu Sakha with a genuine criminal offence or order his release. For decades, Israel has relied upon administrative detention, in many cases as an alternative to bringing

    June 03, 2016

    The Fijian parliament must overturn the suspension of an opposition MP for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Parliaments can only be worthy of their name when all members can speak freely on all issues,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Unless this suspension is immediately reversed, the Fijian authorities are proving they are intent on silencing critical voices.”

    Tupou Draunidalo, an indigenous Fijian parliamentarian and member of the National Federation Party was suspended following a parliamentary motion on 3 June 2016 for calling a government minister “a fool” while responding to comments deriding opposition members of parliament.

    Draunidalo asked the government minister if he was suggesting herself and other indigenous members of the opposition were “dumb natives”.

    May 23, 2016

    Vietnamese authorities must end their crackdown on peaceful protesters and release all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said today.

    As Viet Nam hosts US President Barack Obama on a three-day visit, the authorities have pressed ahead with their assault on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly by arresting six peaceful activists and orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and harassment against dozens more.

    “Even as it faces the glare of global attention with the US President’s visit, the Vietnamese authorities, shamefully, are carrying out their repressive business as usual,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The six peaceful activists who have been arrested in recent days are: Nancy Nguyễn, Nguyễn Viết Dũng, Phạm Đoan Trang, Vũ Huy Hoàng, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, and Nguyễn Bá Vinh.

    May 21, 2016

    The Bangladeshi authorities’ treatment of a prominent 81-year-old journalist, who has been held in solitary confinement for several weeks and denied medical care for chronic and life threatening health conditions, is an act of cruelty, Amnesty International said today.

    Shafik Rehman, editor of the monthly Mouchake Dhil magazine, was arrested on 16 April suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate Sajib Wazed Joy, the son of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

    “The Bangladeshi authorities must end the prolonged solitary confinement of Shafik Rahman and ensure his well-being. It is absolutely shocking that an 81-year-old diabetic man with a history of heart problems is being denied the medical care he needs,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    According to Shafik Rehman’s lawyer and family members, he has been kept in isolation since 27 April in Kashimpur Central Jail, a maximum security prison, where he is not allowed to interact with other prisoners. He has had minimal access to both his legal team and family members since he was first arrested.

    May 18, 2016

    The Algerian authorities must end their relentless efforts to silence peaceful protesters, said Amnesty International ahead of the start of the trial tomorrow of four protesters from the southern city of Ouargla who are facing up to a year in prison for taking part in protests against unemployment in Algeria’s oil capital, Hassi Messaoud.

    Prominent activist Tahar Belabes, a member of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC), and three other CNDDC members have been charged with taking part in “unarmed gatherings” in 2015. If convicted, all four men could face up to a year in jail.

    “Imprisoning Tahar Belabes and his colleagues simply for taking part in peaceful protests would be an outrageous attack on the right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their only ‘crime’ appears to be that they stood up for the rights of the unemployed. They should not even be on trial – let alone facing a possible prison term. The charges against them should be dropped immediately,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 17, 2016

    Yesterday’s brutal crackdown by Kenyan police against protesters must be urgently and impartially investigated, said Amnesty International.

    Police descended on a crowd of largely peaceful protesters hitting many of them with batons, lobbing tear gas at them and spraying them with water cannons. In one video widely shared on social media, three policemen were seen kicking and beating a protester after he had collapsed by the roadside. Some media reports say the individual later died of his injuries.

    “The brutal beatings by police yesterday amount to arbitrary and abusive use of force, which is illegal under Kenyan, regional and international law,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    May 06, 2016

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a prominent opposition politician facing a possible death sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges over comments he posted on Facebook, said Amnesty International.

    Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organisation.

    “The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism. Yonatan Tesfaye spoke up against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “He and many others held under similar circumstances should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    May 04, 2016

    Amnesty International deplores the mass arrests of Papuan political activists by the Indonesian police forces both in Papua region and other provinces in the country. They were arrested solely for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Those who remain detained must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    Around 1,700 Papuan activists were arrested on 2 May after they organised and participated in a series of peaceful demonstrations in Jayapura, Merauke, Fakfak, Sorong and Wamena in Papua and West Papua provinces, in Semarang, Central Java province and in Makassar, South Sulawesi province.

    April 28, 2016

    The Chinese government must scrap a new law aimed at further smothering civil society, Amnesty International said today.

    China’s National People’s Congress adopted on 28 April a fundamentally flawed law governing Foreign NGOs and their domestic partners. The new law will have severe consequences for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are already sharply curtailed under existing laws and policies.

    “The authorities – particularly the police – will have virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. 

    “The law presents a very real threat to the legitimate work of independent NGOs and should be immediately revoked.”

    The law is the latest in a raft of legislation aimed at bolstering government power under the guise of national security and at the cost of human rights. A sweeping National Security Law, passed in July 2015, defines “national security” in such broad and vague terms that the authorities are essentially given carte blanche.

    April 27, 2016

    Thailand’s military government is brazenly seeking to shut down debate ahead of a referendum on a draft constitution, Amnesty International said today.

    At least a dozen Facebook commenters have been detained or charged on 27 April under a draconian new Order issued by the head of the military government. The arrests come after they commented on the controversial draft of a new constitution Thailand’s military government is seeking to impose.

    The Facebook users who were charged under the law now face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 baht ($5,715).

    “If ordinary people cannot comment on a Facebook post without facing the threat of 10 years behind bars and a hefty fine, what hope is there for any open and honest debate on the military government’s draft constitution?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South East Asia.

    April 21, 2016

    Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release four academics detained for signing a petition critical of the government’s security operations in southeast Turkey and for speaking out at a press conference, said Amnesty International on the eve of their trial hearing.

    “These four academics have been held in pre-trial detention for almost a month on baseless charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organization, when in actual fact all they did was express their concern for human rights abuses in their country, as it is their right to do so,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    “They must be released from prison immediately and unconditionally and all charges against them dropped. Nothing they have said or done in their appeals for peace can justify arbitrary detention. Amnesty International will campaign for their release as long as this sham trial continues.”

    April 20, 2016

    The brutal killing of an 18-year-old Sudanese university student by intelligence agents yesterday must be urgently and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said today, as repression of students in the country intensifies.

    Abubakar Hassan Mohamed Taha, a first year engineering student at the University of Kordofan in Al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan State, died of a gunshot wound to the head. Another 27 students were injured, five of them seriously.

    “This violent attack is yet another shocking episode in a series of human rights violations against university students across Sudan and underlines the government’s determination to put out the last vestiges of dissent,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 

    “The reprehensible violence by state agents against the students must be thoroughly and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

    April 19, 2016

    The brutal assault by Zimbabwe's state security agents on the brother of the abducted pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara must be urgently and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    State security agents punched and beat Patson Dzamara with batons and later forced him to drink about four litres of water after he staged a peaceful demonstration at Independence Day celebrations attended by President Robert Mugabe on 18 April at Harare's National Sports Stadium.

    Patson Dzamara held up a placard reading “Independent but not free – where is my brother Itai” near a VIP tent when up to 10 security agents set upon him.

    “The brutal attack on Patson Dzamara for simply lifting a placard is yet further evidence that the Zimbabwean government is prepared to lash out at anyone highlighting its appalling human rights record,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 18, 2016

                                 Reverse Worrying Spike in Repression

    The suspicious death in custody of opposition political leader Solo Sandeng and the arrest of his party leader, Ousainu Darboe, and other party members in recent days underscore the repressive nature of the Gambia’s government, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and ARTICLE 19 said today.

    The groups said the government of President Yahya Jammeh should ensure an independent and impartial investigation into Sandeng’s death, immediately release all peaceful protesters and free Alhagie Ceesay, a journalist arbitrarily detained since July 2015 and currently gravely ill in hospital. 

    April 16, 2016
    Authorities in Gambia must immediately investigate the death in detention of a well-known political activist and release all other peaceful protestors who have been detained, Amnesty International said today.   According to information received by Amnesty International, Solo Sandeng, the National Organizing Secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), died in detention shortly after his arrest for participating in a peaceful protest. The circumstances of his death are as yet unknown.   Another UDP member, Fatoumata Jawara, is also detained and is believed to be suffering from serious injuries. The cause of her injuries is unclear but Amnesty International is deeply concerned for her welfare. Both opposition members were arrested by the police on Thursday 14 April following a peaceful protest in advance of December’s elections.    

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