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Human Rights Abuses

    January 28, 2014

    The African Union (AU) Heads of State meeting starting tomorrow must address the growing crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). They must ensure they complete the full and rapid deployment of peacekeepers to protect civilians in rural areas at risk of imminent attack.

    Over the last week Amnesty International has gathered first-hand information of large scale slaughter of both Christian and Muslim civilians in the North-West CAR. The presence of international peacekeepers in these areas is essential to help prevent further atrocities, particularly as rival militias converge on this region. 

    “There is a real danger of further escalation of what is already a human disaster. The peacekeeping forces have had an effect where they are deployed, but there are large swathes of the North West where there is a notable absence. Here towns have been attacked and there is a real risk of further atrocities.” said Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser Donatella Rovera who is currently in the region. 

    January 27, 2014

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate the death in custody of a 19-year-old boy who was shot in the head by security forces, said Amnesty International.

    “Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The conflicting information that has emerged over the version of events that led to his death makes such an investigation even more urgent.”

    Fadel Abbas was wounded when security forces tried to arrest him and others as they went to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.
     
    The Interior Ministry said in a statement on 26 January that Fadel Abbas had died of his wounds after he was shot on 8 January when he “purposefully” drove a car into members of the security forces as he attempted to escape arrest for smuggling arms and explosives. The Ministry said its forces had acted in self-defence.  

    January 26, 2014

    Christian and Muslim civilians in Baoro and Bossemptle in the north-west of the Central African Republic are in imminent danger of attack due to the very strong presence of anti-balaka militias in towns where international peacekeepers are nowhere to be seen, according to an Amnesty International delegation in the region today.

    Armed clashes between anti-balaka militias and remnants of the ex-Seleka forces and their supporters over the last week have resulted in civilian fatalities and casualties, as well as the burning of hundreds of homes. 

    “There is a huge risk of a major human tragedy because of the complete absence of any peacekeeping force. The situation in this part of the Central African Republic is very volatile and the international peacekeeping effort is vital to protect the thousands of civilians from both communities,” said Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser Donatella Rovera who is currently in the region.  

    January 22, 2014
    The Egyptian authorities have tightened the noose on freedom of expression and assembly© REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghan

    Posted at 0001 GMT 23 January 2014

    The Egyptian authorities are using every resource at their disposal to quash dissent and trample on human rights, said Amnesty International in a damning new report published ahead of the third anniversary of the “25 January Revolution”.

    The briefing entitled Roadmap to repression: No end in sight to human rights violations, paints a bleak picture of the state of rights and liberties in Egypt since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

    January 22, 2014

    The use of live ammunition by police in Kyiv would only increase what is already a highly volatile situation, Amnesty International said today after four protesters were killed and the government issued a statement saying that police may start using live ammunition.

    The death of a man after being brutally beaten by two riot police officers is another example of pervasive police impunity in Ukraine.

    “There must be no impunity for law enforcement officers who resort to abusive use of force. We have repeatedly called on the Ukrainian authorities to bring perpetrators to justice, but today’s unlawful violence by the police has led to at least one death. What else needs to happen before police officers are held accountable for human rights violations?” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International's Ukraine expert.

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs has denied that it was using live ammunition but has threatened to use live rounds following the shootings.

    January 20, 2014

    The new interim President of the Central African Republic must urgently rein in the “out of control” anti-balaka militias currently forcing scores of people from Muslim communities to leave the country in a bid to escape terrifying abuse, Amnesty International said.

    Catherine Samba Panza was appointed by the interim parliament as interim President of the African nation today.

    “People from Muslim communities feel totally unprotected from anti-balaka attacks and terrified about what might happen to them if they stay in the country. Even those who were born in the Central African Republic and have never set foot outside of the country are now trying to escape to Chad,” said Joanne Mariner Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International, who is currently in the Central African Republic.

    “Reining in the anti-balaka militia and ensuring the Muslim population is safe from attack must be a top priority for interim president Catherine Samba Panza.”

    Over the past ten days, it has been reported that hundreds of Muslims have been victims of attacks, including unlawful killings, with many being forced to leave their homes.

    January 16, 2014

    The Geneva II peace conference on Syria must aim to urgently end government sieges imposed on opposition-held towns where civilians are starving to death, said Amnesty International. 

    The organization is urging government and opposition groups to commit to granting unfettered access to humanitarian organizations operating throughout Syria during the UN-backed talks which begin on 22 January in Switzerland. 

    January 15, 2014

    A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti’s former “president-for-life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier, to escape justice for human rights violations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

    The authorities re-opened a criminal case against the former Haitian dictator three years ago, shortly after he returned to the country on 16 January 2011, following a 25-year exile in France. He faced charges of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of political opponents, and of corruption. But the case has stalled for almost a year. 

    “It appears that the Haitian authorities have no intention of carrying out thorough investigations into Duvalier-era abuses,” said Javier Zúñiga, Amnesty International’s special adviser to regional programs.

    “The judicial process has stalled, denying victims of his reign of terror their right to truth, justice and reparation. To add insult to injury, Duvalier continues to take part in public events, often at the invitation of the Haitian government.”

    January 07, 2014

    South Korea today announced a halt to shipments of tear gas to Bahrain, following pressure from Amnesty International and other human rights groups which worked alongside Bahrain Watch’s ‘Stop the Shipment’ campaign.

    “The South Korean authorities should be commended for this move to help prevent further human rights violations in Bahrain, which comes after sustained campaigning by activists from Amnesty International and other NGOs in Bahrain and around the world,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    The announcement by South Korea’s defence agency cited pressure from human rights groups following the Bahraini authorities’ repeated – and sometimes fatal – misuse of the toxic chemical agents against peaceful protesters.

    “South Korea is sending a clear message that the Bahraini authorities’ ongoing repression of peaceful protests is unacceptable and will not be rewarded with future weapons transfers. Other countries that continue to supply Bahrain with tear gas and related equipment should sit up and take notice,” said Wood.

    December 23, 2013

    Human rights violations against peaceful participants in the demonstrations that have rocked the Ukraine in the past month must be thoroughly investigated, said Amnesty International in a report published today. The organization is concerned that the blanket pardon of protestors arrested in the demonstrations is not used to detract from the abuses carried out by the police    

    “While those accused of criminal and administrative offences during the protests have been pardoned, it does not absolve the Ukrainian authorities from their responsibility for human rights violations that have taken place over the last month,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Ukraine.

    “Successive Ukrainian governments have failed to address deeply rooted systemic flaws in policing and the criminal justice system. It is of the utmost importance that the perpetrators of human rights violations must still be held to account.”

    December 20, 2013

    Warring factions in South Sudan must immediately rein in their troops to prevent further attacks on civilians, Amnesty International said amid violence that has erupted across the country.

    There is mounting evidence that troops and armed civilians from South Sudan’s two largest communities, the Dinka and Nuer, are carrying out targeted killings of civilians based on their ethnic background.

    Three United Nations peacekeepers were also reportedly killed on Thursday when armed Nuer youths in Akobo, Jonglei state, forced their way into a peacekeeping base sheltering Dinka civilians.

    “Attacks on civilians seeking shelter from fighting is a shocking development in this increasingly vicious conflict,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The fact that these attacks were carried out by armed youths is a disturbing sign that this conflict is moving beyond fighting between soldiers and into widespread inter-communal violence.”

    Fighting originated in the capital Juba on Sunday but has since spread to other parts of the country including Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest state.

    December 19, 2013

    The struggle of the LGBTI * community in Jamaica challenging the society for their rights, the descent into chaos in Syria examined through voices inside the country, and the plight of refugees in Australia and Thailand are issues explored in three excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s nineteenth annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.

    Jennifer Quinn is the winner this year in national print for her feature article “A dangerous place to be gay” about the community in Jamaica that constantly faces violence and intolerance, published in the Sunday Star in Toronto August 11 2013. Traveling to the island, Jennifer Quinn interviews gay and lesbian individuals and activists and examines their efforts to change the situation with a landmark court challenge.

    December 16, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT 17 December 2013

    China’s abolition of the “Re-education Through Labour” (RTL) system risks being no more than a cosmetic change, with authorities already stepping up other forms of persecution, Amnesty International said in a briefing released today.

    While RTL camps are being shut down, the briefing details how the Chinese authorities are increasingly making use of so-called “black jails”, enforced drug rehabilitation centres, and “brainwashing centres” to take their place.

    “Abolishing the RTL system is a step in the right direction. However, it now appears that it may only be a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    “It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”

    December 16, 2013

    The UAE authorities must stop their cruel campaign of harassment against the families of prisoners convicted on vague “national security” charges, Amnesty International said ahead of a second trial against 10 of the prisoners that is set to resume tomorrow.

    Some relatives of the 69 government critics, who were jailed after a mass trial in July, told Amnesty International they have been bullied, threatened and stigmatized by the authorities in a bid to silence their pleas for justice.

    “These prisoners were jailed following a grossly unfair trial in which there was no right of appeal, and now their families are also being targeted in their daily lives,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The UAE authorities must end this shameful and vindictive campaign of persecution. Prisoners’ families must not be punished for seeking justice for their relatives.”

    December 12, 2013

    The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council must act urgently and clarify its plans to deploy the new African-led peacekeeping mission to tackle the spiraling human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today.

    A week has passed since the UN Security Council unanimously authorized the transition of an existing central African states force on the ground to protect civilians into a one-year African-led peacekeeping mission joined by French peacekeepers.

    In a letter, Amnesty International has urged the AU Peace and Security Council to break its silence and spell out the concrete action it is taking urgently to put forces on the ground and ensure effective protection of civilians.

    “A clear plan and concrete action are urgently needed from the African Union to prevent the crisis in Central African Republic spiraling completely out of control,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

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