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Human Rights Abuses

    April 26, 2016

    One year on from the start of the Burundi crisis, the human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate and accountability for horrific acts of violence remains elusive, Amnesty International said today. The decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a preliminary examination underlines the gravity of the situation.

    Burundi has been in a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in office last April, which many saw as unconstitutional. Since then, hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled abroad.

    “Burundians have paid the price as the political crisis escalated over the last 12 months, as killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances have increased to alarming levels,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    April 26, 2016

     

    26 April 2016

    Security forces arbitrarily arrested hundreds of people in response to planned protests in Egypt yesterday, said Amnesty International, after large numbers of security forces deployed to prevent demonstrators from gathering in Cairo and elsewhere.

    The Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) early this morning told Amnesty International that they knew of at least 238 people, including foreign nationals, activists and journalists, who were arrested on 25 April across Egypt. The FDEP is a group of local activists, including human rights lawyers, formed to protect peaceful demonstrators from human rights violations. The “Freedom for the Brave” movement, another local watchdog, had logged a list of 168 names late yesterday as activists continued to identify detainees. 

    April 21, 2016

    New Government Should Quickly Establish Special Court

    21 Central African and international human rights organizations issued a statement today calling on the new president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, to make justice for grave international crimes a top priority for his government. President Touadéra was sworn in on March 30, 2016, and his new government took office on April 11.

    “The people of the Central African Republic have suffered unspeakable abuses and have made clear that they want to turn the page on a past where impunity ruled,” the human rights groups said. “President Touadéra should demonstrate leadership and take concrete steps to advance justice for grave international crimes, notably through the swift establishment of the Special Criminal Court and continued cooperation with the International Criminal Court.”

    April 20, 2016

    As Saudi Arabia receives Barack Obama today, Amnesty International is urging the US President not to turn his back on victims of repression and human rights violations across the Gulf states.

    In an open letter published ahead of Obama’s meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on 20 April and with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on 21 April, the organization has called on President Obama to ensure human rights abuses are not swept beneath the carpet.

    “President Obama’s trip offers a crucial opportunity for him to demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights and prove to the world that the US government will not sacrifice human rights in favour of US geopolitical and business interests,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    April 18, 2016

    Air strikes on residential areas in the south eastern Pool region of Congo that have reportedly resulted in deaths, casualties and the destruction of properties, including churches, schools and medical facilities represent an unlawful use of lethal force by the security forces, Amnesty International said today.

    They are a clear violation of the country’s international human rights obligations, including the right to life and should be subject to a thorough, independent and impartial investigation. Eyewitnesses told the organization that on 5 April, helicopters dropped at least 30 bombs on residential areas including a school in the town of Vindza where the target was a house which used to be the residence of Pastor Frederic Ntumi, leader of the “Ninjas” armed group. The government blamed the “Ninjas” for the 4 April violence in the capital Brazzaville. Subsequently the towns of Soumouna and Mayama have come under attack. An eyewitness told Amnesty International that she saw at least 30 dead bodies between Soumouna and Ngula a village located some 8 km.

    April 15, 2016

    The horrific murder of a two-year-old girl with albinism highlights the failure by the Malawi’s authorities to adequately protect this vulnerable group, said Amnesty International following the discovery of her skull, teeth and the clothes she was wearing in Balantha Hill in Kasungu district.

    The child, Whitney Chilumpha, had been missing since being abducted from her home whilst sleeping beside her mother in Chiziya village, Kasungu district, on 3 April. She is the twelfth person with albinism known to have been killed in Malawi since December 2014.

    “The murder of this innocent child is part of a deeply disturbing pattern of disappearances and killings of people with albinism in Malawi where body parts are sold for use in witchcraft,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    April 14, 2016

    Posted at 0300 GMT 15 April 2016

    The South Sudanese government must end arbitrary detentions by the intelligence agency under which dozens of men are being held in squalid conditions without charge or trial sometimes for months on end, said Amnesty International days before opposition leader Riek Machar is due to return to the capital Juba as part of a peace deal requiring the parties to the conflict to form a national unity government.

    Amnesty International has compiled a list of 35 men arbitrarily detained by the National Security Service (NSS) at its headquarters in the Jebel neighbourhood of Juba. Some of the detainees have been held for close to two years, without access to lawyers and with very limited access to their families and the outside world.

    The list, published as part of a briefing Denied protection of the law: National Security Service detention in Juba, South Sudan, includes a former state governor, a 65-year-old university professor, a Ugandan aid worker and a journalist employed by UN-run Radio Miraya.

    April 14, 2016

     Amnesty International is deeply disappointed in the Government of Canada’s decision to proceed with the sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. According to newly published documents, on April 8, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion signed off on the export permits negotiated by the previous government.

    April 12, 2016

    Revelations of the slaughter and secret burial of 347 members of a Shi’ite religious group in mass graves by the Nigerian army must be urgently investigated said Amnesty International today, and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility for these crimes must be brought to trial.

    The acknowledgment of the extrajudicial killings which took place between 12-14 December 2015 in Zaria, were made by a Kaduna government official at a Public Hearing of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and echoes Amnesty International’s own findings.

    “The horrific revelation by the Kaduna State government that hundreds of Shi’ites were gunned down and dumped in mass graves is an important first step to bringing all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this atrocity to trial,” said Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, M.K. Ibrahim.

    April 05, 2016

    Chile’s outrageous two-tier justice system is allowing police officers to beat, ill-treat and in some cases even kill peaceful demonstrators and other individuals and only face a miniscule sanction at best, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    'I didn't know there were two kinds of justice' : Military jurisdiction and police brutality in Chile reveals that Chile’s military courts, which deal with cases of human rights violations committed by members of the security forces, regularly fail to adequately investigate and prosecute officers that are suspected of having committed a crime. Trials in these courts usually lack the most basic levels of independence and impartiality.

    “Chile’s military courts should not be allowed to investigate, prosecute and punish members of its own ranks – that is simply a no-brainer. It is akin to courts allowing criminals to be judged by their own families,” said Ana Piquer, Director at Amnesty International Chile.

    March 31, 2016

    “The announced withdrawal of French Sangaris forces from CAR later this year further increases the urgency for the UN Security Council to ensure that the MINUSCA peacekeeping force is much better equipped to protect civilians and promote justice,” said Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International in West and Central Africa.

    “Yesterday’s inauguration of CAR’s new President Faustin-Archange Touadéra offers an opportunity to rebuild and stabilize the country, including to bring those suspected of having committed serious human rights violations to justice. But to do so CAR needs the international community to boost its support, including by ensuring the peacekeeping force is well-equipped to prevent and contain large-scale violence.”

    March 18, 2016

    On the occasion of President Barack Obama´s upcoming historic visit to Cuba, followed by a two-day visit to Argentina, Amnesty International would like to take this opportunity to highlight to the three Presidents a number of major human rights concerns which we hope will be prioritized as part of your discussions.

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Detentions at Guantánamo Bay

    While we recognize the current administration’s commitment to end the detentions in the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, the fact that dozens of detainees remain there more than six years after President Obama’s original deadline for closure of the detention facility is a cause for huge international concern. We reiterate that any Guantánamo detainee the USA does not intend to charge for prosecution in proceedings that fully comply with international fair trial standards should be immediately released.

    March 16, 2016

    The Pakistani authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate this morning’s bomb attack on a bus which killed at least 15 people and severely injured 25 in Peshawar, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible in fair trials, said Amnesty International.

    “There can be no justification for intentionally targeting civilians or carrying out indiscriminate attacks. Those responsible for the bombing have shown contempt for the right to life and fundamental principles of humanity,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    Media reports indicate that explosive material was packed into a toolbox and detonated remotely inside the privately hired bus, which was carrying government employees from Mardan to the provincial capital. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

    March 16, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT  17 March 2016

    The authorities in Lesotho must uphold human rights and the rule of law and end continuing harassment and intimidation of lawyers and human rights defenders, said Amnesty International today, marking Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s first year in office.

    “In the year since Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s inauguration, we have seen a disturbing pattern of human rights violations committed with absolute impunity as illustrated by the repeated flouting of court orders by the Lesotho Defence Force,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Lawyers, civil society leaders and journalists have been intimidated and even threatened with death for simply doing their jobs.”

    March 13, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT    14 March 2016

             Protest actions to take place outside Nigerian embassies around the world

    Two years after at least 640 recaptured detainees were slaughtered by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, the authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings, said Amnesty International.

    The detainees – men and boys, many arbitrarily arrested in mass screening operations - were killed after they fled the barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state on 14 March 2014 following a Boko Haram attack. The majority were shot. The others had their throats cut. To mark the anniversary of this massacre, Amnesty International campaigners will be gathering outside Nigerian embassies around the world to call for independent investigations and prosecutions.

    “It is shocking that two years after these horrific killings there has been no justice for the victims and their relatives,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

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