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Human Rights

    June 18, 2018

    The new government of president elect Iván Duque, who is due to take up office on 7 August, has an obligation to guarantee the rights of the more than eight million victims of the armed conflict in Colombia and to adopt an agenda of full respect for human rights, including for human rights defenders and historically excluded communities, stated Amnesty International today.

    “Violence continues to be a reality for thousands of people and communities. We are worried that armed actors, such as paramilitary groups, are still committing crimes under international law, including collective forced displacement, sexual violence against women and girls, and targeted killings of human rights activists. This has to change and we hope that the new administration under president elect Iván Duque will be committed to that change”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 06, 2018

    Today Amnesty International sent an open letter to the presidential candidates in Colombia’s run-off election to express its main concerns regarding human rights in the country and urge the candidates to strengthen their commitment to this issue.

    The organization believes that the country is at a historic juncture and that the next government's commitment to guaranteeing the rights of segments of the population that have historically been affected by violence and ensuring the sustainability of the process of building lasting peace will be crucial.

    Amnesty International considers it essential for the two remaining candidates in the 17 June elections to commit to: guaranteeing the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Colombian communities; protecting human rights defenders; guaranteeing the rights of victims of the armed conflict to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition; and ensuring that the state as a whole dismantles any paramilitary structures that still exist despite the demobilization processes that began in 2005.

    May 25, 2018

    Reacting to the decision of the House of Representatives on Friday to pass into law the revision of the anti-terrorism bill, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said:

    “The newly-passed law contains a number of draconian articles that threaten to undermine human rights in Indonesia. The law erodes safeguards against arbitrary detention and against torture and other ill-treatment, as well as expanding the scope of the application of the death penalty. Plans to deploy the military in counter-terrorism operations are also deeply concerning.

    “The vagueness of some of the law’s wording could be used by authorities to restrict freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly or misused to label peaceful political activities as terrorism. This lack of clarity violates the requirement under international human rights law that  criminal law must be formulated with enough precision for people to understand what conduct is prohibited.

    May 09, 2018

    A Canadian delegation led by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will receive questions and recommendations from other countries regarding Canada’s human rights record during the country’s third assessment under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process (UPR) on May 11th. This will be the first time Canada undergoes examination by the top UN human rights body under the Trudeau government.   The procedure was adopted by the UN in 2006 and got underway in 2008.  Canada was previously reviewed in 2009 and 2013. The UPR is particularly significant because it is the only regular process under which a state’s human rights record is examined by other governments.

    April 25, 2018

    The efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to fight rampant impunity and protect human rights in Guatemala must continue and even increase, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the appointment of the new Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

    “President Jimmy Morales must appoint an Attorney General who guarantees prompt and effective justice for all, and who complies effectively with Guatemala’s international human rights obligations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This is a critical moment in Guatemala’s modern history. There cannot be any backwards steps in the fight against impunity which the country has been tackling.”

    President Morales is responsible for choosing between six candidates who hope to assume the post of Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the next four years. The decision must be made by 17 May at the latest, when the current Attorney General Thelma Aldana Hernández’s term comes to an end.

    March 28, 2018

    March 28, 2018 - Ethiopia’s incoming prime minister must prioritize addressing the deep-rooted human rights crisis in the country, said Amnesty International following the election of Abiy Ahmed as chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party, paving the way for him to become the next premier.

    If approved by parliament, Abiy Ahmed, who also currently heads the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – an EPRDF member party - will replace Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced his resignation in February “in an effort to facilitate reforms.”

    “Abiy’s election could herald a new dawn in Ethiopia if it is followed by concrete steps to implement far-reaching reforms towards respect for human rights in the country,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “If approved as prime minister, Abiy and his government must take urgent measures to address the human rights crisis in Ethiopia, through concrete and genuine reforms.”

    March 27, 2018

    Sadly, the United States has become somewhat infamous for school shootings, but there’s a crucial point missing from the gun violence debate: saving lives is not a policy choice for elected officials to consider or ignore. 

    It is a legal obligation on the US government under human rights treaties that the country has committed to abide by.

    Of course, a key challenge is how to enforce these obligations and that’s where activism – like the youth-led March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington DC and across the world – plays a critical role.

    People must demand that elected officials respect, protect and fulfil our human rights –  including those of people most impacted by gun violence: youth, women and people of colour.

    There is plenty that can be done

    In that context, there are several steps that the US government can and should take to protect people’s lives from gun violence.

    No elected official should ever claim that there’s nothing that can be done to stop gun violence. It’s the opposite – there’s plenty.

    The US government can and should:

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 06, 2018

    The Maldivian government must immediately release judges and opposition politicians it has arbitrarily detained through emergency powers, Amnesty International said today.

    “Since the declaration of a state of emergency on 5 February, we have seen a wave of arbitrary arrests in the Maldives. A state of emergency cannot be used to carry out what appears to be a purge of the Supreme Court and the opposition. These judges and opposition politicians must be released immediately,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    Invoking sweeping emergency powers, the government has arrested the Chief Justice, Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge, Justice Ali Hameed, a former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former president’s son-in-law, Mohamed Nadheem, and the head of the Department of Judicial Administration, Hassan Saeed.

    Colonel Nazim, a former Defence Minister who was under house arrest, has now been moved back to jail by the Maldivian correctional services, in defiance of a 1 February 2018 Supreme Court order for his release.

    February 06, 2018

    As Parliament resumes and MPs and Senators set to work tackling numerous and wide-ranging challenges, Amnesty International’s 2018 Human Rights Agenda for Canada highlights a mixed record of progress in 2017 and lays out important recommendations for domestic and international human rights action over the coming year that will require more consistent political commitment, increased resources and determined leadership.

    February 05, 2018

    Amnesty International has warned that the 15-day declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives must not become a licence for further repression.

    “The declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives is an extremely worrying development that comes at a time of heightened political anxieties in the country. But respect for human rights must not become another casualty of this ongoing crisis,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director.

    “The Maldivian authorities have an appalling track-record of suppressing freedom of expression and any form of opposition, a pattern of behaviour that has intensified over recent years. It is vital that authorities respect their obligations under international human rights law during this period of emergency. This cannot be a licence for further repression.”

    Background

    The declaration of the state of emergency – which suspends several clauses of the Maldivian constitution – comes days after the Maldivian Supreme Court overturned a politically-motivated conviction against former President Mohamed Nasheed on ‘terrorism’ charges.

    December 14, 2017

    Contrast VR and Amnesty International immerse viewers in Rohingya crisis with Forced to Flee

    DOHA, SAN FRANCISCO, LONDON (December 12, 2017) – A man forced to bury his son after watching Myanmar’s military kill him, a woman who was gang-raped by soldiers, and another woman who had her family murdered and house burnt down – these are only three of the Rohingya refugees who share their harrowing stories in a hard-hitting new virtual reality documentary released today.

    Forced to Flee, launched jointly by Contrast VR, Al Jazeera Media Network’s new immersive studio and Amnesty International was directed and produced by Contrast VR Editorial Lead Zahra Rasool, co-produced by Viktorija Mickute and edited by Maria Fernanda Lauret. It was shot in late October in Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh, which is now home to more than 620,000 Rohingya refugees who fled ethnic cleansing in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine State since late August.

    In the immersive film, Rohingya women and men recount the horrors of fleeing systematic and widespread violations and urge the world to secure their basic rights.

    December 12, 2017

    In a joint statement released today, a group of 26 Indigenous peoples’ organizations and civil society groups are calling on Ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments to initiate a process of reform to address long-standing shortcomings in Canada’s implementation of international human rights obligations.  For the first time in 29 years, Ministers have met to discuss cross-jurisdictional weaknesses and challenges in implementing Canada’s commitments under an array of binding international human rights instruments.

    December 01, 2017

    Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo must investigate the heavy-handed police crackdown on yesterday’s protests in which at least one man was shot dead and dozens more injured, said Amnesty International today.

    Police also arbitrarily arrested more than 200 protesters in cities across the country. While many were released later in the day, at least 100 remain in detention, including 45 in Goma and 12 in the capital Kinshasa.

    “This wanton disregard for protesters’ lives and the unlawful use of force cannot be tolerated. The use of firearms against unarmed protesters contravenes DRC’s obligations under international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The DRC must promptly launch an effective and independent investigation into the killing and injuries and bring all those responsible to justice. The ongoing pattern of repression against peaceful protesters and its associated impunity must stop.”

    November 30, 2017
    Verified photographs show Soviet-made cluster munitions used over densely populated areas by Syrian government forces Doctors describe dire humanitarian situation – including widespread malnutrition – amid tightening siege Witnesses recount indiscriminate attacks killing civilians as Syrian forces commit daily war crimes

    Syrian government forces’ increasing use of banned Soviet-made cluster munitions to carry out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians amid a tightening siege in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has killed at least 10 civilians and brought the area’s humanitarian crisis to breaking point, Amnesty International can reveal today.

    The organization interviewed five people currently under siege in Eastern Ghouta, among them activists and medical professionals, who described a severely deteriorating situation as the government has escalated its bombing campaign of this rebel-held enclave, near the capital, Damascus, since 14 November.

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