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Crimes Against Humanity

    November 14, 2012

    The UN failed to protect civilians during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict according its own report, released today, prompting Amnesty International to renew its call for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

    The Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, submitted to Ban Ki-moon and made public today, offers a strong indictment of the UN’s response to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.

    It deals with a period of conflict in Sri Lanka when very grave violations of international law are alleged and where effective UN action might have averted some of the worst of the violations.

    Instead the text describes a scenario where UN officials repeatedly failed civilians they were entrusted protect, while ignoring or downplaying mounting evidence of war crimes compiled by their own staff as they struggled to appease Sri Lankan authorities intent on restricting humanitarian space.  

    November 01, 2012

    New video evidence emerged on Thursday which appears to show an armed group in Syria’s Idlib province carrying out a mass summary killing of men in their custody.

    In the footage – which is reported to be from a checkpoint near Saraqeb in Idlib province – at least 10 men, who some believe are captured members of the security forces, are beaten and kicked before members of the armed group open fire on them. It is unknown how many were killed in the incident, but media outlets and a Syrian NGO have suggested that at least 28 died.
    Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director said:

    “This shocking footage depicts a potential war crime in progress, and demonstrates an utter disregard for international humanitarian law by the armed group in question.

    November 01, 2012

    (Abuja) The brutal actions of Nigeria's security forces in response to Boko Haram's campaign of terror are making an already desperate situation even worse, Amnesty International said in a report released today. 

    The report, Nigeria: Trapped in the cycle of violence, documents the atrocities carried out by Boko Haram as well as the serious human rights violations carried out by the security forces in response, including enforced disappearance, torture, extrajudicial executions, the torching of homes and detention without trial.

    “The cycle of attack and counter-attack has been marked by unlawful violence on both sides, with devastating consequences for the human rights of those trapped in the middle,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “People are living in a climate of fear and insecurity, vulnerable to attack from Boko Haram and facing human rights violations at the hands of the very state security forces which should be protecting them.”

    October 18, 2012

    A year on from the capture and killing of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan authorities to hand over immediately the former ruler’s military intelligence chief to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.

    Despite an ICC arrest warrant for Abdullah al-Senussi being active since June 2011, he was extradited back to Libya on 5 September after being arrested in Mauritania in March of this year.

    Amnesty International is concerned that since his incarceration in Libya, it appears no independent organizations, relatives or his lawyers have had access to him.

    Al-Senussi’s case is symptomatic of a wider situation in Libya of a justice system in disarray.

    “A year after the end of hostilities, victims of serious human rights abuses – by the former government as well as its opponents – have yet to see justice. What we witness today in Libya is revenge and not justice,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2012

    The Congolese government must take urgent steps to stop the violence in the east of the country and hold to account all who have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty International said, as the DRC prepares to host a major gathering of Francophone leaders.
     
    The Francophonie Summit – a biennial gathering of French speaking nations - will be hosted from the 12 -14 October in Kinshasa, as violence in the east is escalating, resulting in widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    “Human rights abuses continue unabated and with total impunity,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    An Amnesty International delegation has recently returned from eastern DRC, where delegates documented cases of rape, summary killings, forced recruitment of civilians including children, looting and illegal taxation by different armed groups.

    September 19, 2012

    Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

    The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

    September 14, 2012

    Countries neighbouring Syria must ensure that refugees who are stranded on their borders are allowed to find sanctuary, Amnesty International said.

    The organization wrote to the Turkish and Iraqi authorities calling on them to open all border crossings to refugees from Syria, after both nations continued to prevent access to safety for those fleeing the escalating violence by delaying entry to their territories.

     “Civilians have born the brunt of large-scale crimes against humanity, war crimes and other human rights abuses committed in Syria, and any obstacles or delays in allowing refugees to reach a place of safety would place them at risk of further serious human rights abuses in breach of international law," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Amnesty International calls upon countries neighbouring Syria to keep their borders open to those fleeing the conflict, and urges all countries in the region and elsewhere to ensure they do not force anyone to return.

    September 14, 2012

    The Egyptian government should immediately withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and arrest him if he travels to Cairo, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Al-Bashir is due to meet President Mohamed Morsi and other top Egyptian officials as part of a two-day visit beginning on 16 September.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.

    “If Egypt welcomes Omar Al-Bashir it will become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”, said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager.

    “Egypt should not allow Omar Al-Bashir to enter its territory, and must arrest him if he arrives.”

    September 11, 2012

    The Iraqi authorities must urgently launch a thorough, impartial investigation into a wave of bomb attacks and shootings across Iraq on Sunday which reportedly killed at least 81 people, many of them civilians, and left scores more injured, Amnesty International said.

    The apparently coordinated attacks in multiple cities appear to have targeted Iraqi civilians. Members of the security and armed forces also seemed to have been targeted. Car bomb explosions in several, predominantly Shi’a areas were among the deadliest attacks. 

    “This horrific wave of attacks shows an utter disregard for humanity – the Iraqi authorities must ensure an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation is carried out and those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 04, 2012

    Guatemalan ex-officials who fled to Europe to escape allegations of involvement in extrajudicial executions must face justice, Amnesty International said today.

    On Monday night a court in Geneva ordered that Erwin Sperisen – Guatemala’s former National Director of Police – remain for at least three months in administrative detention as he faces trial for murder charges stemming from his time in that role from 2004 to 2007.

    Swiss authorities had arrested Sperisen – who cannot be extradited to Guatemala because he also holds Swiss nationality – on Friday, 31 August. He faces charges linked to a number of alleged extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the Guatemalan police force under his command.

    Other Guatemalan former officials believed to be in Europe – including in Austria and Spain – have yet to be held to account for alleged crimes committed in the Central American country.

    August 31, 2012

    In separate incidents in Afghanistan, a 12-year-old boy was found beheaded on Wednesday and a 7-year-old girl was reportedly beheaded and had her legs amputated by unknown assailants on Thursday.

    Amnesty International’s Deputy Director, Asia-Pacific Programme, Polly Truscott said:

    “These two acts of despicable killings of children in Kandahar and Kapisa provinces must be subject to prompt, independent and thorough investigations – those responsible must be held to account in trials that meet international standards of fairness, without use of the death penalty.

    “Reports that the young boy was killed by the Taleban to avenge his brother’s service with the Afghan Local Police highlight the challenges in establishing rule of law in Afghanistan. The Taleban have denied responsibility. In the past, Afghan insurgent groups have targeted civilians – including children – for their perceived allegiance to the government.

    August 30, 2012

    Nesrete Kumnova, from Kosovo whose son’s body is believed to be among those transported to Serbia, and reburied there, during the 1999 conflict.

    Some 14,000 people remain unaccounted for in the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia – nearly half of the total number who disappeared in the decade since war broke out in 1991.

    Between 1991 and 2001, a total of 34,700 people were reported missing due to enforced disappearances or abductions in the region. The majority of their relatives are still waiting for justice.

    In a briefing published today on the International Day of the Disappeared, The right to know: Families still left in the dark in the Balkans, Amnesty International calls on the authorities in the Balkans to investigate enforced disappearances – crimes under international law – and to ensure the victims and their families receive access to justice and reparations.

    August 22, 2012

    1982 was a dangerous time in El Salvador.

    The civil war had begun two years earlier, and in rebel-held areas, the national army saw everyone - peasant farmers, babies, women and the elderly - as legitimate military targets.

    By 1982 the armed forces had already committed a string of massacres across the country.

    In August that year, the Salvadoran armed forces launched a major offensive across the northern San Vicente region – an area considered by the military as a guerrilla stronghold. As news of the offensive spread, communities in San Vicente began to flee in fear for their lives. Many of those who stayed on to tend the crops were the elderly, women and young children.

    They had stayed thinking they would be safe at home.

    No-one could imagine what was about to come.

    August 22, 2012

    A Guatemalan court has sentenced an ex-police chief to 70 years in prison for the 1981 disappearance and torture of a university student, in what Amnesty International says is a strong message that even after three decades justice can be delivered.

    On Tuesday a court in Guatemala City found Pedro García Arredondo, former chief detective of the now-defunct National Police (Policía Nacional, PN), guilty of ordering the enforced disappearance of agronomy student Édgar Enrique Sáenz Calito during the country’s long-running internal armed conflict.

    The disappearance is a crime under international law, and the court found that the victim’s torture in detention amounted to a crime against humanity.

    “It has taken more than three decades for justice to catch up to Pedro García Arredondo, but this ruling sends another strong message that those responsible for past human rights violations in Guatemala will be held accountable,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Researcher on Central America at Amnesty International.

    August 22, 2012

    Civilians are enduring a horrific level of violence in the battle between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters for control of Aleppo - the country’s largest city and commercial capital, Amnesty International said in a new briefing on Syria.

    The 11-page briefing is based on first-hand field investigations by Amnesty International during the first half of August.

    The briefing documents the Syrian government forces’ increasingly frequent air and artillery strikes against residential areas, resulting in often indiscriminate attacks which seriously endanger civilians. 

    “The use of imprecise weapons, such as unguided bombs, artillery shells and mortars by government forces has dramatically increased the danger for civilians”, said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who recently returned from Aleppo.

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