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Human Rights Abuses

    October 14, 2013

    Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, health officials and wounded protesters  suggests security forces used live ammunition to disperse crowds of mostly peaceful demonstrators on 6 October, said Amnesty International.

    At least 49 people were killed and hundreds injured in Cairo alone, as security forces used excessive and unwarranted lethal force to disperse pro-Morsi protesters. According to eyewitnesses, in some instances, security forces stood by as men in civilian clothing armed with knives, swords or firearms attacked and clashed with demonstrators.

    “The Egyptian security forces patently failed to prevent the loss of life. In a number of cases bystanders or non-violent protesters were caught up in the violence,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

    October 10, 2013

    Following the death of Herman Wallace last Friday, who was held in solitary confinement for over 40 years, Amnesty International is launching a campaign for the release of his co-defendant Albert Woodfox. He too has been held in cruel conditions of isolation following the deeply flawed trials.

    "Albert Woodfox has been in solitary confinement for decades, even though the case against him was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors. Enough is enough. The state of Louisiana must accept the federal court’s ruling and release Albert Woodfox from prison,” said Tessa Murphy, USA campaigner at Amnesty International.

    Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were both convicted of the 1972 murder of prison guard, Brent Miller. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favourable treatment in return for his testimony.

    Both men have robustly denied any involvement in the crime. They believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

    October 10, 2013

    Authorities in Morocco must immediately and unconditionally drop charges against three teenagers arrested for kissing and posting a photo on Facebook, said Amnesty International ahead of a court hearing on Friday.

    “It is simply absurd that these teenagers could face a prison term just for kissing and and posting a photo on Facebook,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “These young people should never have been detained in the first place - there is no imaginable reason why expression of this type ought to result in prosecution. Launching a judicial investigation into a complaint about an act as benign as teenagers kissing is ridiculous. It should be dismissed out of hand.”

    Two 15-year-old boys and one 14-year-old girl were arrested on 4 October in the city of Nador. They were detained for three days and released on bail on 7 October, ahead of a court hearing this Friday.

    All three were charged with “public indecency” under Article 483 of Morocco's Penal Code. If found guilty, they could face up to two years imprisonment and a fine.

    October 09, 2013

    The UN Security Council must ensure that the protection of civilians and the promotion of human rights lie at the heart of Afghan and international efforts in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said.

    The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is expected to be extended until the end of 2014 on 10 October by the Security Council.

    “As the security transfer from international to Afghan forces enters its final stage, it is essential that the Afghan government, ISAF and the USA ensure that all necessary safeguards are in place to prevent and account for rising civilian casualties,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “With ISAF combat troops completing their withdrawal, their governments must continue to provide international expertise, political support and pressure, as well as financial assistance. This is crucial to secure the modest gains of the past 12 years and further advance human rights.”

    October 04, 2013

    In the week that saw over 50 students killed by gunmen in an agricultural college in Yobe State, Amnesty International publishes a new report assessing attacks on schools in northern Nigeria between 2012 and 2013.

    “Hundreds have been killed in these horrific attacks. Thousands of children have been forced out of schools across communities in northern Nigeria and many teachers have been forced to flee for their safety,” said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director.

    “Attacks against schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings demonstrate an absolute disregard for the right to life and the right to education.”
     
    According to the report Education under attack in Nigeria this year alone at least 70 teachers and scores of pupils have been slaughtered and many others wounded. Some 50 schools have been burned or seriously damaged and more than 60 others have been forced to close.

    The Islamist group commonly known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for many, but not all, of the attacks.

    October 02, 2013

    Reports that Sudan’s security forces have arrested at least 800 activists, members of opposition parties, journalists, and others amid ongoing anti-government protests mark a shocking escalation of the crackdown on dissent, Amnesty International said.

    A wave of arrests took place between the night of Monday 30 September and the early hours of Tuesday 1 October. Amnesty International is still receiving reports of arrests at the time of writing.

    “Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service is notorious for its repressive tactics in rounding up and placing perceived dissidents behind bars – but even by their standards, this latest round-up marks a significant escalation in arrests,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.  

    October 01, 2013

    The decision to overturn the conviction of a terminally ill man held in solitary confinement for more than 41 years after a flawed trial is a positive step but long overdue after four decades of injustice, Amnesty International said.

    “The case of Herman Wallace is a tragic example of ‘justice’ gone wrong in the USA. Finally a federal court has acknowledged some of the unfairness surrounding this case. However this sadly comes too late for lasting benefit as he is at death’s door with terminal cancer,” said Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    “The state must not now try to block his release.”

    Herman Wallace, 71, was placed in solitary confinement in Louisiana State prison after being convicted in 1974 of the murder of prison guard Brent Miller.

    Today’s ruling focused on one aspect of his trial: the systematic exclusion of women from the grand jury. Many other irregularities have been raised over the years but have been rejected by the state courts.

    September 27, 2013

    Mexico’s military justice system is failing victims of alleged human rights violations by the army and navy, but the Mexican Senate has a key opportunity to change that, Amnesty International said today.

    “If the Mexican legislature wants to prove they have a real commitment to upholding human rights, they will seize this key opportunity to reform the military justice system once and for all, and ensure civilian justice to investigate and try all cases of human rights violations by the armed forces,” said Daniel Zapico, Amnesty International Mexico director.

    “This would bring Mexico in line with international human rights standards as well as rulings by the Inter American Court of Human Rights on the matter over the last years.”

    September 26, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 27 September, 2013

    Sri Lanka’s disturbing human rights record means it should be barred from hosting a key Commonwealth summit in November or chairing the organization, Amnesty International said ahead of a key meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers today.

    The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - made up of foreign ministers and Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who gather to address violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values, including human rights - is meeting in New York today.

    “Today’s meeting is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to show some real leadership on human rights. The organization has been shamefully silent so far about Sri Lanka’s human rights crisis– including the persistent lack of justice for past crimes and ongoing attacks on human rights defenders and other activists,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia- Pacific Director.

    September 26, 2013

    Joint News Release from Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies

    “Shooting to kill – including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads – is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces.”
    Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International

    “The Sudanese government must immediately establish an investigation into the use of disproportionate force and allegations of the intentional killing of protestors and use of live ammunition by security forces.”
    Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies
     

    The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop using arbitrary and unlawful force against protesters, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and Amnesty International urged today, after confirming that at least 50 demonstrators were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday after being shot in the chest or head.

    September 23, 2013

    The Somali-based Islamist armed group al-Shabab’s blatant disregard for life in its attack on a Nairobi shopping centre on Saturday is a despicable affront to basic human rights, Amnesty International said.

    “Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the people of Kenya in the wake of these callous and despicable attacks,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “Our thoughts and sympathy go out to all those affected by this violence. We welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to account.

    “We urge the Kenyan authorities to ensure that the investigations are prompt, thorough, independent and impartial. Any suspects arrested should be brought to trial in line with international standards.”

    Among those reportedly killed was the renowned Ghanaian poet and former diplomat, Dr. Kofi Awoonor. Amnesty International had campaigned on the poet’s politically motivated trial in the mid-1970s.

    September 23, 2013

    Palestinian Authority must end use of excessive force in policing protests

    Palestinian Authority (PA) police and security forces in the occupied West Bank must cease using unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators, and must be held accountable when they commit human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    A new briefing, published today details how police and security forces have repeatedly carried out unprovoked and unlawful attacks on peaceful protesters. It also accuses the PA authorities of allowing them to do so with impunity.

    “Standards during the policing of demonstrations in the West Bank continue to fall woefully short of those prescribed by international law,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director of Amnesty International. “As a result, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are being severely eroded.”

    September 19, 2013

    Today’s acquittal of 21 human rights and opposition activists by Zimbabwe’s High Court leaves the authorities with serious questions to answer about police misconduct in the aftermath of a police officer’s murder, Amnesty International said.

    "This acquittal of the 21 activists is a positive development – Amnesty International has always believed that most, if not all, of the accused had been arrested as a result of a politicized investigation into the death of the police officer,” said Noel Kututwa, southern Africa director at Amnesty International.

    "This tragic loss of a police officer’s life could have been professionally investigated without the human rights violations that have now tainted it. Police investigations must be competent, thorough, prompt, and impartial.”

    Seven activists from Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) remain on trial over the murder of police officer Petros Mutedza in the Harare suburb of Glen View in 2011.

    September 12, 2013

    All countries should suspend shipments of tear gas, armoured vehicles and other riot control projectile equipment to Turkey until the Turkish authorities can guarantee protesters’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The call comes as police have again abusively used large amounts of tear gas and water cannon to disperse protests – some of them violent – in Istanbul and other cities around the country in the past three days. This new round of demonstrations was sparked when a young protester was killed in unclear circumstances as police responded to a demonstration in the southern province of Hatay early on Tuesday.

    “The Turkish police’s return to the abusive use of force in response to demonstrations underscores the need for all countries to suspend shipments of tear gas and other riot control projectile equipment and armoured policing vehicles to Turkey, until steps are taken to prevent such deaths and injuries,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    September 05, 2013

    Indonesia: Kopassus conviction small step towards ending impunity

    The conviction of eight Kopassus (Special Forces Command) soldiers today is a step towards ending impunity In Indonesia, but also highlights how military courts are not fit to try its own soldiers for human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

    Three Kopassus soldiers were convicted of the premeditated murder of four unarmed detainees at Cebongan prison outside Yogyakarta on 23 March this year and sentenced to between six and 11 years’ in prison. The men will be appealing their sentences.

    Another five soldiers were given shorter sentences for assisting the main perpetrators, with sentences against four more soldiers expected tomorrow.

    “While today’s verdict provides some justice for the families of the victims, much more needs to be done to address ongoing impunity and reform the military,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

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