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Human Rights Abuses

    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.

    September 02, 2013

    Amnesty International urges the Iraqi authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into violence at Camp Ashraf that reportedly left at least 47 dead on 1 September.

    “On previous occasions the Iraqi authorities have failed to conduct effective investigations into attacks on camps housing Iranian exiles. This has meant that no one has been held accountable for these incidents, and that residents live in constant fear for their safety,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “The authorities must ensure that an inquiry into yesterday’s violence is promptly carried out and that it is independent, transparent and in full conformity with international standards.”  

    The circumstances of the event are disputed. Residents claim that Iraqi security forces attacked the camp and killed several residents. Several victims were allegedly arrested and hand-cuffed before being shot dead. However, Iraqi officials have provided different accounts of what happened, including blaming infighting among camp residents.

    August 31, 2013

             

    Sri Lankan leaders must address the persistent climate of fear in the country, Amnesty International said as the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay concluded her visit to the island.

    Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, made her first official visit to Sri Lanka from 25-31 August. It comes just before the UN andCommonwealth review the country’s human rights situation in September

    At her concluding press conference today, Pillay stressed that many who met or wanted to meet her during the visit had been threatened by security forces, and that critical voices in Sri Lanka are “quite often attacked or even permanently silenced”.

    “Navi Pillay’s take on the human rights situation during her visit very much echoes our own findings. Being critical of government policy in Sri Lanka is highly risky, and the extent to which people are being harassed into silence is shocking”, said Polly Truscott Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    August 28, 2013

    Video footage apparently showing Angolan prison guards and fire fighters repeatedly beating and whipping prisoners is shocking and must be investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    The footage, recorded on a mobile phone and distributed via social media, is 5 minutes and 39 seconds long and is believed to have been recorded earlier this month. It shows a group of prisoners sitting on the ground as law enforcement officials and fire fighters drag them from the group one-by-one, kick them and beat them with sticks and leather straps.

    The footage appears to have been taken in Viana Prison, in the country’s capital Luanda, where similar footage had previously been uncovered.

    “This appalling incident involving apparent ill-treatment of prisoners, the second in under a year, is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal conduct by Angolan prison authorities,” said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s Angola Researcher.

    August 27, 2013

    Evidence strongly suggests that three men who were shot dead with live ammunition during an arrest raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Monday were unlawfully killed by Israeli forces, Amnesty International said today. 

    Another 19 people, including six children, were injured by live ammunition fired during the raid on Qalandia refugee camp, the highest number of casualties in a single Israeli operation in the West Bank this year. Five of those wounded, including three children, had injuries to the upper body.

    “The intentional lethal use of firearms – such as firing live ammunition at individuals’ upper bodies – is only permissible if strictly unavoidable to protect life,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “The loss of life and high number of casualties in this incident raise serious questions as to whether heavily armoured Israeli troops acted according to international standards.”

    August 26, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs (GMT) 27 August 2013

    The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) singularly failed to investigate the abduction and murders of Kosovo Serbs in the aftermath of the 1998-1999 conflict, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    It comes on the eve of a UN Security Council debate on Kosovo on 29 August.

    “UNMIK’s failure to investigate what constituted a widespread, as well as a systematic, attack on a civilian population and, potentially, crimes against humanity, has contributed to the climate of impunity prevailing in Kosovo,” said Sian Jones, Amnesty International’s expert on Kosovo.

    “There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity. They must be investigated and the families of the abducted and murdered must receive redress. The UN should not be allowed to shirk its responsibility any longer.”

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