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Human Rights Abuses

    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.

    December 12, 2013

    Turkmenistan’s authorities have simply paid lip service to reform in a bid to appease the international community said Amnesty International in the run up to parliamentary elections this weekend (15 December).

    “Holding these elections will not address the atmosphere of total repression, denial of the basic human rights, and the all-permeating fear that has gripped society in Turkmenistan for years, and all pretence of progress on human rights is simply deceitful,” John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    In 2012, the authorities in the strategically placed oil and gas rich country pushed through reforms which they claimed would lead to the establishment of a second political party. It also allowed, in theory, for an independent media.

    “Recent reforms amount to no more than token gestures designed to distract the international community. Eager foreign investors should not be fooled by these moves or use them to justify uncritical engagement.” said John Dalhuisen.

    December 09, 2013

    Central African Republic: International community must ensure effective  protection of civilians

    The civilian population of the Central African Republic is in urgent need of protection, Amnesty International said today from the capital Bangui, four days into the worst spate of violence in the conflict to date.

    The organization has seen scores of dead bodies in the city's central morgue and visited some of the many sites where an estimated 60,000 people have sought refuge across Bangui. Similar scenes are reportedly playing out in Bossangoa and elsewhere in the country.

    “The high number of people fleeing their homes in search of a safe refuge attests to the widespread fear and deep insecurity that has spread across Bangui neighbourhoods,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa expert, currently in Bangui.

    The number of people seeking sanctuary at these sites increases at night when even more people leave their homes to hide in church compounds and other perceived areas of safety, as the likelihood of attack is higher in their areas.

    December 05, 2013

    Soldiers patrol on December 5, 2013 in a street of Bangui as shots rang out.(c)SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Image

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    Revenge killings are being reported across Bangui and other parts of the Central African Republic today in the aftermath of the military clashes that happened in the early hours of the morning, Amnesty International said today.

    December 05, 2013

    The international community must give peacekeepers in the Central African Republic all the means necessary to protect civilians or risk an escalation in atrocities that could spill over to neighbouring countries, Amnesty International warned as the UN Security Council authorized deployment of an African Union (AU) force.

    The UN vote – which came just hours after clashes erupted overnight in the capital Bangui – authorizes deployment of  AU and French troops to protect civilians, restore law and order and end the spiraling human rights violations and abuses.

    “The lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians hang in the balance, made brutally clear by these attacks on the capital. The international community must do everything in its power to ensure these troops can effectively protect civilians and restore order to the Central African Republic,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    December 04, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 5 December 2013

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    North Korea’s vast infrastructure of repression is further exposed in new satellite images showing the on-going development of two of the country’s largest political prison camps, Amnesty International discloses today.

    In a comprehensive assessments of camps 15 and 16 - known as kwanliso - Amnesty International found new housing blocks, an expansion of production facilities, and continued tight security.

    The analysis, along with newly released testimonies, is included in Amnesty International’s latest briefing North Korea: Continued Investment in the Infrastructure of Repression. 

    A former security official at kwanliso 16 – the largest political prison camp in North Korea – has never spoken publicly before. He describes detainees being forced to dig their own graves and women being raped and then disappearing.

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