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Human Rights Abuses

    January 13, 2016

    (Kampala) – The Ugandan government should urgently suspend the crime preventer program ahead of the February 2016 national elections, said Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U), Chapter Four Uganda, and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) today. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18.

    “Crime preventers” are a volunteer force of civilians recruited and managed by police to report on and prevent crime in cooperation with the police and communities. In practice, crime preventers are strongly affiliated with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. Its members have acted in partisan ways and carried out brutal assaults and extortion with no accountability, the organizations said.

    January 08, 2016

    The trial of Guatemala’s former military ruler, José  Efraín Ríos Montt, due to start on 11 January, will be a major test for the country’s justice system and a huge opportunity for Guatemala to show it is committed to human rights, said Amnesty International today.
           
    “Tens of thousands of Guatemalans who fell victim to the heinous crimes committed under Ríos Montt’s rule have been waiting three decades to see justice done – they must not be forced to wait one second longer,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Guatemalan ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ approach when it comes to dealing with the hundreds of thousands of cases of torture, killings and disappearances that took place during the country’s civil war is shameful and illegal. The only deterrent to the perpetrators of crimes like these is the clear knowledge that they will face justice and the full might of the law.”

    December 23, 2015

    (Bangui, December 23, 2015) – The Central African Republic transitional government, the United Nations, and donors should intensify their efforts to establish a Special Criminal Court, 23 Central African and international human rights groups said today.

    In June 2015, the Central African Republic’s transitional government promulgated a law passed in April to establish a Special Criminal Court inside the national judicial system, consisting of national and international staff, to investigate and prosecute the gravest crimes committed in the country since 2003, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “Our organizations welcome the steps taken by the transitional government to put an end to impunity for atrocities committed in the Central African Republic, notably through the establishment of a Special Criminal Court,” the groups said. “These efforts must continue and be supported by international actors to ensure that the court envisioned on paper becomes a reality as quickly as possible.”

    December 21, 2015

    Released 00.01 GMT, 22 December 2015

    Security forces systematically killed dozens of people, including by extrajudicial execution, on the single bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis, Amnesty International has found.

    In a briefing, “My children are scared”: Burundi’s deepening human rights crisis, Amnesty International documents extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, and looting by the police in Bujumbura on 11 December 2015.

    “In the single most deadly day since the current political unrest began, the streets of Bujumbura were left littered with bodies, many shot with a single bullet to the head. At least one body was found tied up,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The security forces’ violent tactics that day represented a dramatic escalation in scale and intensity from previous operations. Men were dragged out of their homes and shot at close range, while others were shot the instant their doors were opened.”

    December 18, 2015

    The decision by authorities to move 15 Angolan human rights activists from detention to house arrest today is encouraging but falls far short of the unconditional release that they should be immediately granted, said Amnesty International.

    “Shifting the Angola 15 from pre-trial detention to house arrest is not enough to guarantee their rights to liberty and security. The fact that they activists will be home for Christmas will is a welcome but they should not have spent a single day in prison in the first place,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa

    “The activists are not only still facing trial on trumped-up charges but the onerous conditions imposed during their house arrest violate their right to liberty and to communicate with the outside world.”

    Background

    The 15 activists and two others have been on trial since 16 November 2015.

    Amnesty International regards the Angola 15 as prisoners of conscience and are calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

    December 17, 2015

    Five years since fruit-seller Mohamed Bouazizi sparked wide-ranging protests in Tunisia and the wider region after setting himself alight in protest at police harassment in the town of Sidi Bouzid, ongoing human rights violations across the region are increasingly reminiscent of repressive and abusive measures of the past, Amnesty International warned today.

    In a fact sheet published today Amnesty International gives a brief overview of human rights developments in the countries where there were uprisings five years ago.

    “Many dared to hope that the ‘Arab Spring’, as it became known, would augur real change in the relationship between the rulers and those they ruled – greater power-sharing, social justice, transparency, accountability, and greater respect for human rights. The reality is that across the region, conflict and harsh repression remain the order of the day,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    December 17, 2015

    The international community must take urgent steps to address the political crisis in Burundi and restore full respect for human rights as the country moves dangerously to the brink of civil war, said Amnesty International following a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    The organization described the adoption of a resolution to send a team of international experts to Burundi to investigate the violence and recommend solutions as an important first step, and called for an intensified focus on human rights violations.

    "There is no time to delay - Burundi is facing a human rights crisis”, said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “There is an urgent need for a redoubling of efforts to resolve the political crisis in Burundi, and the international community must act vigorously by supporting the urgent mission of independent experts to investigate crimes under international law and human rights violations as soon as possible. Burundi must receive the mission without delay.”

    December 16, 2015

    Protesters have been labelled ‘terrorists’ by Ethiopian authorities in an attempt to violently suppress protests against potential land seizures, which have already resulted in 40 deaths, said Amnesty International.

    A statement issued by state intelligence services today claims that the Oromia protesters were planning to “destabilize the country” and that some of them have a “direct link with a group that has been collaborating with other proven terrorist parties”.

    “The suggestion that these Oromo - protesting against a real threat to their livelihoods - are aligned to terrorists will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression for rights activists,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Instead of condemning the unlawful killings by the security forces, which have seen the deaths of more than 40 people in the last three weeks, this statement in effect authorizes excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

    December 15, 2015

    The shooting of members of a Shi’ite religious group in Zaria, Kaduna state, by the Nigerian army must be urgently investigated said Amnesty International today, and anyone found responsible for unlawful killings must be brought to justice.

    “Whilst the final death toll is unclear, there is no doubt that there has been a substantial loss of life at the hands of the military,” said M.K. Ibrahim, Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria.

    “Firearms should only be used as a last resort, if strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. It is crucial that the authorities refrain from using excessive force and ensure that anyone responsible for unlawful killings is brought to justice in fair trials.”

    As well as the loss of life, security forces arrested many members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), including the leader of the group, Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was picked up at his residence on Sunday morning and remains in detention. It is unclear if he has access to a lawyer. Reports suggest that the dead and injured were taken to the military hospital and to the university teaching hospital.

    December 10, 2015

    The UN Security Council must send an unequivocal message to the North Korean authorities to end the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that continue to be committed in the country, when diplomats meet on Thursday to discuss the situation in the country, Amnesty International said.    

    The meeting in New York, marks only the second time the grave human rights situation in North Korea has been discussed at the Security Council.

    “The UN Security Council has a chance to show that the world has not forgotten about the victims of crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in North Korea, and that those responsible will face justice,” said Nicole Bjerler, Deputy Representative at Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

    “This meeting should serve as a wake-up call to the North Korean authorities to put an immediate end to the systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations that persist in the country. A starting point would be for them to cooperate with the UN and let independent human rights monitors into the country.”

    December 02, 2015

    Security forces have carried out scores of arrests and detentions in the wake of last week’s suicide attack in central Tunis, in a troubling sign that the authorities are reverting to repressive and abusive measures, said Amnesty International.

    The organization spoke to residents who suffered a series of night time raids by security forces wearing balaclavas and carrying rifles, who stormed homes in the La Goulette district of Tunis threatening residents, including women children and the elderly, at gunpoint and arresting dozens of people in the early hours of 27 November.

    “The Tunisian authorities must protect the population, investigate attacks on civilians, and bring perpetrators to justice. However, they must not trample over human rights by subjecting terrified families to heavy-handed home raids, and conducting mass arbitrary arrests and detentions ,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East  and North Africa Program.

    November 27, 2015

    Central African Republic (CAR) must seize the historic opportunity that Pope Francis’ two-day visit presents to place human rights and justice at the heart of national reconciliation efforts, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 75 people have been killed, many of them civilians, in a fresh wave of sectarian violence in the capital Bangui since 26 September 2015.

    “The Pope has a real opportunity to call for the protection of civilians of all faiths and use his great moral authority to help reduce the tension that has recently resulted in deadly violence,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher.

    “The Pope’s visit is a rare opportunity to press for an end to the impunity that too many of those responsible for serious violations and abuses of human rights still enjoy. The impunity is a key driver in the conflict and all those reasonably suspected of committing crimes under international law and other serious violations and abuses of human rights must be brought to justice through fair trials.”

    November 26, 2015

    Disturbing new evidence of Nigerian soldiers beating a man to death and injuring six others in the northern state of Yobe is a chilling reminder that elements of the Nigerian military need to be reined in, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization is calling for a prompt, independent investigation after being passed photographs of the corpse of Ibrahim Bala bearing marks and scars of a severe beating. Eyewitnesses say he was beaten to death by soldiers last week.  

    "The death of Ibrahim Bala is a tragic reminder of the consequences of the impunity enjoyed by the military for widespread torture and other gross human rights violations. Those responsible for his death must be brought to justice in fair trials," said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.

    November 20, 2015

    There can be no justification for a spate of deliberate deadly attacks by Palestinians on civilians over the past week in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories which displayed a clear contempt for human life, said Amnesty International.

    In the latest attacks on Thursday, Palestinians from the occupied West Bank killed five civilians: three Israelis, a US national and a Palestinian, in two separate incidents.

    “As tensions continue to skyrocket we have seen a string of reprehensible attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians over the past week in which the assailants appear to have sought to kill individuals they presumed to be Israeli Jews,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    November 19, 2015

    The decision by Rio de Janeiro State Public Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the killing of a 10-year-old boy in a favela earlier this year is a positive sign towards ensuring the external oversight of police actions, Amnesty International said today.

    Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, who was black, was shot in the head during a police operation in Alemão complex, one of the city’s largest favelas, on 2 April this year.

    “The circumstances surrounding young Eduardo’s death could become a watershed moment in the fight against impunity and this is an important step by the Public Prosecutor to ensure external oversight over police actions,” said Átila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil.

    “This is crucial when we are talking about a police force that has killed more than 1,000 people between 2014 and 2015 in alleged confrontations. Transparency in this investigation will be a way to protect everyone.”

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