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Human Rights Abuses

    July 28, 2017
      Israeli forces attacked peaceful crowds of Palestinians as they gathered at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem this afternoon for the first time since Israel lifted recent security measures imposed at the site, according to Amnesty International staff at the scene.   “Israeli forces started firing stun grenades, tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets into a peaceful crowd as they stood at the entrance of the al-Aqsa mosque compound and inside. It appeared to be an entirely unprovoked attack. Some Palestinians threw empty water bottles in return. Others, began to throw stones as well,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.   “Using unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful gathering is a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligation to uphold the rights of Palestinians to peaceful assembly. The Israeli authorities must urgently rein in their security forces to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control and to avoid further bloodshed.”   
    July 25, 2017
      Israeli soldiers and police stormed a Palestinian hospital twice over the past week terrifying staff and patients and in some cases preventing doctors from providing emergency medical care to critically injured patients, said Amnesty International today.   The raids on al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem took place as tensions escalated in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in recent days following an Israeli government decision to place metal detectors and search worshipers at the entrance of Al-Aqsa mosque after two Israeli policemen were killed at the site on 14 July. At least four Palestinian civilians have been killed and more than 1,090 injured by Israeli police and military forces over the past 10 days in the widespread Palestinian protests against the decision and ensuing clashes.  
    July 24, 2017
      The Saudi Arabian Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the death sentences of 14 men after a grossly unfair mass trial is a worrying reminder of the country’s lethal crackdown on dissent, said Amnesty International today. The men who were found guilty of protest-related crimes now face imminent execution.   “By confirming these sentences Saudi Arabia’s authorities have displayed their ruthless commitment to the use of the death penalty as a weapon to crush dissent and neutralize political opponents,” said Samah Hadid, Director of campaigns for the Middle-East at Amnesty international.   “King Salman’s signature is now all that stands between them and their execution. He must immediately quash these death sentences which are a result of sham court proceedings that brazenly flout international fair trial standards," At least 66 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since the start of 2017, including 26 in the past three weeks alone - more than one execution per day.  
    July 12, 2017
      Responding to statements made by spokespeople for the US-led coalition and the Iraqi forces, Lynn Maalouf Head of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East said:   “We are disappointed by the dismissiveness with which the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces have treated our report depicting the immense civilian suffering in west Mosul.   “At the bare minimum, governments who are part of the coalition as well as Iraqi forces must ensure a prompt, impartial investigation into the alleged violations we have documented.   “We hope to see an immediate public acknowledgement of the immense cost to civilians that this battle has caused as well as a transparent response from the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces to the violations and attacks documented by Amnesty International in its report on the west Mosul operation.   “Even wars have laws and there must be accountability when these are violated..  
    July 11, 2017

    Iraq: Battle between US-led coalition, Iraqi forces and Islamic State creates civilian catastrophe in west Mosul

    July 05, 2017
      During his official visit to Israel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must ask Israel to immediately lift the illegal 10 year blockade of Gaza and raise the issue of 50 years of illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, Amnesty International India said today. 

    This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister since establishment of diplomatic relations 25 years ago.

    “Prime Minister Modi must tell his Israeli counterparts that the illegal settlements are a violation of international humanitarian law and cause of mass violations of human rights. He must also press them to lift the 10 year blockade of Gaza that has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.           

    “Merely condemning Israel’s settlement expansion cannot suffice. India should ban products from these illegal settlements as helping them flourish economically blatantly undermines its own international obligations.”

    June 13, 2017

    The conviction of five people for the charge of “public indecency” after smoking a cigarette or eating in public during the month of Ramadan is a clear violation of individual freedoms in Tunisia, said Amnesty International.

    In the latest incident, a man was sentenced to one month in jail for “public indecency” in the town of Bizerte, northwest of Tunis, for smoking outside a courthouse on 12 June. A day earlier, dozens of protesters took to the streets in Tunis to demand their right not to fast during Ramadan. He is the fifth man to be sentenced by the same court to a jail term for breaking his fast during Ramadan this month. Four other men were sentenced to one month in prison after eating in public on 1 June.

    June 12, 2017

    A new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism over the past six months is being fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs, Amnesty International said today on International Albinism Awareness Day.

    Since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction. This stands in stark contrast to the last six months of 2016, when no such incidents were reported.

    “Despite stronger legislation, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “When the wheels of justice turn so painfully slowly, as they do in Malawi, and historic cases of attacks on people with albinism remain unresolved, it creates a climate of impunity and emboldens suspected perpetrators of these horrific crimes.”

    June 08, 2017

    (Beirut, June 8, 2017) – The expected battle involving Iraqi and US-led coalition forces against the Islamic State (ISIS) in west Mosul’s Old City poses a considerable threat to civilians and civilian objects, international humanitarian and human rights organizations said today. All warring parties should cease using explosive weapons with wide area effects and inherently indiscriminate weapons in densely populated west Mosul. ISIS’s unlawful use of civilians as “human shields” and the difficulty of identifying civilians in buildings increases the risk of civilian casualties.

    The United Nations has estimated that 200,000 civilians remain in the two-square-kilometer area in west Mosul’s Old City, which Iraqi and US-led coalition forces are encircling in preparation for the battle there.

    June 07, 2017

    The group calling itself Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for today’s suicide bombing and gun attack at parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, the first Leader of Islamic Republic, which killed a number of people and injured dozens in Tehran. In response, Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

    “The coordinated attack today at parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum was a brutal and deliberate assault on civilians carried out in cold blood. There can never be a justification for targeting civilians. The group calling itself Islamic State (IS) has again displayed its utter contempt for human life and fundamental principles of humanity.

    “The Iranian authorities must promptly carry out an impartial and independent investigation into this attack and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials, without violating the absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment and without recourse to the death penalty as punishment.”

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    June 01, 2017

    (Geneva, June 1, 2017) – The United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently establish a commission of inquiry into the situation in the central Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 262 Congolese and 9 international nongovernmental organizations said today

    June 01, 2017

    The desecration of a mass grave site in Ahvaz, southern Iran that contains the remains of at least 44 people who were extrajudicially executed would destroy vital forensic evidence and scupper opportunities for justice for the mass prisoner killings that took place across the country in 1988, said Amnesty International and Justice for Iran.

    Photo and video evidence obtained by the NGO Justice for Iran and reviewed by Amnesty International shows bulldozers working on a construction project directly alongside the mass grave site at Ahvaz, as well as piles of dirt and construction debris surrounding the grave. Although the Iranian authorities have made no official announcements about Ahvaz, families learned through a construction worker that the plan is to ultimately raze the concrete block marking the grave site and build over the area.

    May 30, 2017

    In response to the launch today in Bangui of an extensive United Nations report mapping 620 incidents involving serious human rights violations and abuses, as well as crimes under international law committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2003 and 2015, Erica Bussey, Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Advisor said:

    “This report provides a systematic and comprehensive account of hundreds of horrendous human rights violations and abuses committed over 12 years, and clearly demonstrates the need for accountability to ensure justice and peace in the country.”

    “This report will be of critical importance to the newly-appointed Special Prosecutor of the Special Criminal Court, particularly in determining a prosecutorial strategy, given the vast scale of the crimes committed and the need to prioritize amongst them.”

    “The report comes at an important point in the fight against impunity. Several important steps have recently been taken to establish the Special Criminal Court and nominate magistrates, and this report should help advance efforts to ensure justice for victims of the conflict.”

    May 30, 2017

    The Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint when policing demonstrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Biafra War on 30 May, and avoid a repetition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down, said Amnesty International today.

    “Last year’s heavy-handed response against pro-Biafra activists further stirred up tensions in the south east of Nigeria. The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful detention,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

    “We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force.”

    May 26, 2017

    In response to the Lusaka Magistrate Court’s decision to adjourn the case of United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema and five of his employees until 12 June, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “Hakainde Hichilema and his five employees are currently undergoing persecution through prosecution and the charge against them must be dropped. Their arrest and detention is part of a cynical ploy to silence all political opposition in Zambia.

    “This treason charge is designed to intimidate Hichilema and stop him and others in the opposition from taking part in public affairs. The Zambian authorities must stop misusing the criminal justice system to target and harass the political opposition.”

    Background

    Hakainde Hichilema is the president of the main opposition political party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia.

    The six were arrested on 11 April after they allegedly failed to give way to a Presidential convoy in Mongu district. They claim they were beaten, teargassed and pepper sprayed on their genitals by the police.

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