Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Freedom of Expression

    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.    
    April 13, 2016

    Today’s decision to suspend the Mejlis, a representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars in Crimea, demolishes one of the few remaining rights of a minority that Russia must protect instead of persecute, said Amnesty International.

    The decision – announced by the de facto prosecutor of Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya – signals a new wave of repression against Crimean Tatar people. It comes after increased attacks to the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine two years ago.

    “Anyone associated with the Mejlis could now face serious charges of extremism as a result of this ban, which is aimed at snuffing out the few remaining voices of dissent in Crimea,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The decision to suspend the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and ban all its activities under Russia’s anti-extremism legislation is a repugnant punitive step denying members of the Crimean Tatar community the right to freedom of association.”

    April 08, 2016

    The release of dozens of student protesters in Myanmar is a step forward for human rights that should pave the way for the new government to release all remaining prisoners of conscience and amend or repeal all laws that fuel arbitrary arrests, Amnesty International said.

    The Tharawaddy Court in Myanmar today dropped charges against scores of students facing jail for largely peaceful protests in March 2015. The move came after the new government announced on 7 April that it would work to release all prisoners of conscience as soon as possible.

    “Today’s release of most of the student protesters is a huge step forward for human rights in Myanmar, and we are delighted that these men and women will walk free. It sends a strong message about the new government’s intention to end the cycle of political arrest and detention in Myanmar. We are now looking forward to the release of all other prisoners of conscience - including those students who are facing charges in other courts. The new government must ensure that no prisoner of conscience is left in jail,” said Laura Haigh, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher.

    March 24, 2016

    Myanmar’s new government will take office with a historic opportunity to change course on human rights but must break away from the deeply repressive legal framework that for years has fuelled arbitrary arrests and repression, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    New expression meets old repression urges Aung San Suu Kyi and the upcoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience still behind bars when it takes office in early April.

    “Myanmar’s legal framework reads like a textbook of repression, and authorities have in recent years increasingly used it to silence dissent,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Director.

    “To break the vicious cycle of political arrests, the new government must prioritize reforming the legal code to ensure that speaking out is no longer a crime, and it must release all those imprisoned simply for doing so.

    March 23, 2016

    Human rights activists risk prosecution, asset freezes

    In recent weeks, the Egyptian authorities have summoned human rights workers for questioning, banned them from travel and attempted to freeze their personal funds and family assets. These steps indicate that a five-year-old investigation into the funding and registration of independent human rights groups could soon result in criminal charges, 14 international organizations said today.

    The authorities should halt their persecution of these groups and drop the investigation, which could threaten human rights defenders with up to 25 years in prison, the organizations said.

    “Egypt’s civil society is being treated like an enemy of the state, rather than a partner for reform and progress,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    Pages

    Subscribe to Freedom of Expression
    rights