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Human Rights Abuses

    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.

    December 04, 2013

    Canadians supporting Amnesty International’s work will join thousands of others around the world to Write for Rights around Wednesday December 10. The annual activity is now the world’s largest letter-writing event. Last year, Amnesty International members in more than 80 countries wrote almost two million letters, tweets and texts. The letters aim to save lives, stop torture, free prisoners of conscience and show solidarity.

    Individuals write letters based on 9 cases come from every continent and cover a wide range of different human rights issues:

    December 02, 2013

    The Bulgarian authorities must send a clear message that they will take all necessary measures to curb the growing spate of attacks against refugees and migrants on the streets of the capital Sofia, Amnesty International said.

    The call comes after two Syrian men in their 20s and 30s were injured in a violent attack in Sofia’s Sugar Factory district last night. A third man targeted in the attack reportedly escaped unscathed. It is the seventh such assault on the city’s streets since the beginning of November 2013.

    “So far, instead of investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these violent attacks to justice, the Bulgarian authorities have sought to downplay them as run-of-the-mill muggings and crimes. Bulgaria is obliged under international law to thoroughly investigate any possible hate motive behind these crimes. Hate crimes are an affront to human dignity,” said Jezerca Tigani, a Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia Program of Amnesty International.

    November 30, 2013

    Released 11:00 am GMT 30 November 2013

    The Malian authorities must immediately release five children that have been detained in a military detention centre for over seven months, says Amnesty International today as it releases a Human Rights Agenda for Mali, in the country’s capital.

    An Amnesty International delegation, led by the Secretary General, Salil Shetty, met the five children between the ages of 15 and 17 in the military detention centre (Gendarmerie Camp) in Bamako.

    One of the five children is a child soldier who joined the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO). The other four were arrested because of their suspected links to armed groups. 

    “We were horrified to see these traumatised young boys detained in poor conditions, along with adults,” says Salil Shetty. “This is a clear violation of national and international law and they must be released immediately”.

    “Children should rarely, if ever, be held in detention. In all actions concerning children the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration.”

    November 25, 2013

    The UN must take full account of the human catastrophe of epic proportions unfolding in the Central African Republic (CAR) when considering the options presented by the UN Secretary-General on peacekeeping in that country, Amnesty International said.

    The situation is worsening on a daily basis in CAR, with extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls widely committed with total impunity by members of the security forces and armed groups alike.

    “The crisis is spinning out of control, despite the fact that it has been ignored by the international community for far too long,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “People are dying in the Central African Republic as we speak, and action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. There is no time to delay.”

    November 25, 2013

    The Government of Zimbabwe must guarantee all human rights enshrined in the new Constitution, Amnesty International said in a Human Rights Agenda issued as President Robert Mugabe approaches the 100th day of his new term.

    In the report, Human Rights Agenda for the New Government – 2013 to 2018, the organization urges the Zimbabwean government to take significant steps to improve the country’s poor human rights record. It also must address impunity for past violations and provide remedies to victims.

    “There is no doubt that the new government will be judged on the basis of its human rights record and ability to improve the living conditions for everyone in the country,” says Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for the government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver justice for its people and to allow freedom of expression. With political will all that is possible.”

    November 05, 2013

    Presidential candidates in Honduras must promise to address the dire human rights crisis in the country if there is any chance of putting an end to the escalating levels of violence, insecurity and impunity, said Amnesty International ahead of elections on 24 November.

    The organization has written to all eight presidential candidates urging them to set out their commitment to human rights.

    “The human rights situation in Honduras is dire and the future of the country hangs in the balance,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.

    “These elections could mark a turning point, and the presidential candidates must commit to concrete changes to stop the widespread human rights abuses and violations perpetrated against the people of Honduras.”

    The letter to presidential candidates details the deep human rights crisis in Honduras, including the consistent killings, physical attacks and threats against human rights defenders.

    October 28, 2013

    Allegations of abuse, including the use of electric shocks, against inmates in a privately run prison in South Africa raise serious questions about the authorities’ real commitment to tackle torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.

    “Unfortunately, these recent allegations of abuse against inmates in South Africa’s Mangaung prison are consistent with a long-standing pattern across the country, including disturbing levels of impunity for human rights abuses within South Africa’s prisons,” said Mary Rayner, South Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

    “That the South African authorities have reportedly launched an official investigation into the allegations is positive. The question now is whether they will actually bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparations to victims, as opposed to what has happened too many times in the past.”

    Amnesty International will continue to monitor the follow-up to these investigations.

    “Any investigation into the alleged abuses must be prompt, impartial and independent,” said Mary Rayner.

    October 23, 2013

    The Libyan authorities must urgently find a durable solution to end the continued forcible displacement of tens of thousands of Tawarghas and other communities, from their hometown during the armed conflict of 2011, said Amnesty International.

    The entire inhabitants of the town of Tawargha – some 40,000 people - were driven out by armed groups from Misratah who accused them of supporting Colonel al-Gaddafi’s government. An Amnesty International briefing Barred from their Home, published on the second anniversary of the end of the conflict, highlights the continued discrimination, abductions and arbitrary detention of the Tawargha, who still face threats and reprisal attacks at the hand of militias acting above the law.

    “Two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under resourced camps with no solution in sight,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    October 17, 2013

    Diplomats from Commonwealth countries meeting in London today must push Sri Lanka to end its continuing crackdown on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said.

    The Commonwealth Committee of the Whole is meeting 17-18 October to prepare for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in November.

    “Commonwealth countries must agree new measures to address the continuing human rights crisis in Sri Lanka and especially to monitor and condemn any civil society repression around CHOGM,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Program Director.

    “Sri Lanka has a disturbing record of repressing civil society activism. Its officials have intimidated, threatened and even attacked human rights defenders around previous international events. We are extremely worried about the safety of such activists around the summit in Colombo in November.”

    October 15, 2013

    The deaths of hundreds of people in detention facilities run by Nigeria’s military Joint Task Force (JTF) must be investigated as a matter of urgency, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International has received credible information from a senior officer in the Nigerian Army that over 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of 2013 alone. Most of the reported deaths occurred in facilities used by the military to detain people suspected of being members of or associated with the armed Islamist group Boko Haram.

    “The evidence we’ve gathered suggests that hundreds of people died in military custody in 2013 alone. This is a staggeringly high figure that requires urgent action by the Nigerian government,” said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director.

    “The details of what happens behind locked doors in these shadowy detention facilities must be exposed, and those responsible for any human rights violations brought to book.”

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