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Human Rights Abuses

    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.”

    August 23, 2013

    Warring parties in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo must step up efforts to protect civilians from attacks, Amnesty International urged after a small child and a woman were killed and nearly two dozen wounded amid shelling on Thursday.

    The shelling attack hit three areas of the eastern town of Goma on 22 August, resulting in 21 civilians and one soldier being treated for injuries. An eight-year-old child and a woman among the wounded later died. The origin of the attack is not yet known.

    “Such loss of life is tragic and a violation of international humanitarian law,” said Lucy Freeman, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.  

    August 23, 2013

    The killing of at least 1,089 people over the past weekunderscores the urgent need for Egypt’s security forces to comply with international standards on the use of force and firearms, Amnesty International said.

    In the bloodiest incident since the dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins last week, 97 were killed in Cairo on 16 August when protests by supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi culminating around Ramsis Square quickly plunged into violence. A child as young as seven and a number of teenagers were among those killed or wounded.

    “Security forces failed to take control of the situation or respond to violence used against them in a measured and responsible way to minimize loss of life. Many bystanders also lost their lives,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International.

    August 19, 2013

    There must be a full, impartial and effective investigation into the shocking loss of life that has taken place in Egypt over the last week, with full accountability for whoever committed or ordered the unwarranted lethal crackdown, said Amnesty International’s leaders from across the globe as they came together in Berlin today.


    The interim government has already stained its human rights record – first by breaking its promises to use non-lethal weapons to disperse pro-Morsi sit-ins and allow for the safe exit of wounded and then by justifying their actions despite the tragic loss of lives.

    Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “The interim government has already stained its human rights record – first by breaking its promises to use non-lethal weapons to disperse pro-Morsi sit-ins and allow for the safe exit of wounded and then by justifying their actions despite the tragic loss of lives,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    August 16, 2013

    There must be a full and impartial investigation into the violent dispersal of sit-in protests in Cairo this week, where security forces used unwarranted lethal force and broke promises to allow the wounded to exit safely, Amnesty International said today on the basis of its research on the ground.


    Based on the initial testimonies and other evidence we’ve gathered, there seems to be little doubt the security forces have been acting with blatant disregard for human life, and full investigations that are both impartial and independent are urgently needed.

    Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International

    Unprecedented levels of violence have left more than 600 dead around Egypt. The Ministry of Interior reported 43 fatal casualties among security forces. The death toll is expected to climb further as bodies are transferred to official hospitals and morgues.

    August 15, 2013

    The Government of South Africa must ensure that the Commission of Inquiry into the killings at Marikana does not fail to deliver fair access to justice, said Amnesty International today.

    Nearly a year after the large-scale human rights abuses at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, the vital task of achieving accountability for these abuses is incomplete and at risk.

    The Commission of Inquiry, the main official vehicle set up to establish the facts and make recommendations to government, is currently in crisis. 

    “By anyone’s measure, the outcome of the police operation at Marikana was absolutely catastrophic,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Program Director for Africa. 

    “The long-term consequences for the respect and protection of human rights in South Africa will be severe should the authorities fail in taking all necessary steps to achieve accountability for what happened in Marikana on 16 August 2012.”

    Thirty-four striking miners died in Marikana after police opened fire on them. More than 80 other miners sustained serious injuries. 

    August 14, 2013

    Security forces must take urgent steps to avoid further bloodshed as a pro-Morsi sit-in is dispersed in Cairo today, said Amnesty International. The organization is working on the ground to verify any abuses that may have been carried out.

    “Promises by the authorities to use lethal methods only as a last resort to disperse protesters appear to have been broken. All too often in the past the Egyptian security forces have used excessive force against demonstrators with catastrophic consequences,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Security forces have a duty to prevent further loss of life. This must be an immediate priority.”

    Access to the main hospital in the area near the sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya is also reported to be restricted.

    August 09, 2013

    With the potential for mass demonstrations rising following Cambodia’s disputed election and the government moving hundreds of security forces into Phnom Penh, Amnesty International is calling for Cambodian authorities and other political leaders to prevent violence.

    “Cambodian authorities and other political leaders in Cambodia must ensure that the post-election tension does not erupt into violence,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “Many Cambodians have called for changes – political leaders should do all they can to ensure that these are achieved peacefully and with full respect for human rights,” she said.

    August 06, 2013

    The Hungarian authorities must do more to protect minority groups from hate crimes, Amnesty International urged today after four people were found guilty over the racially motivated murders of six Roma in 2008 and 2009.

    A Budapest court today handed life sentences to three of the convicted quartet, all known for supporting a far-right ideology, over a spate of attacks between March 2008 and August 2009 in the northeast of the country. The fourth man received 13 years in prison for collusion.

    However, research by Amnesty International suggests hate crimes against Roma remain a serious concern in Hungary, while police lack the guidelines to thoroughly and effectively investigate them.

    "Five years after these cold-blooded killings, Roma in Hungary still do not receive adequate protection from hate crimes," said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia Program.

    "This horrific case should have been a wake-up call about the continuous, often violent discrimination faced by the Roma community, but the perpetrators of such acts are still not being brought to justice."

    August 06, 2013

    The Pakistani authorities must hold former military ruler Pervez Musharraf accountable for all human rights violations committed during his rule, Amnesty International said ahead of a key trial today.

    Musharraf is today expected to be formally charged at an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad with criminal conspiracy and murder related to the December 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

    There are a number of other cases pending against Musharraf, including in relation to the 2006 killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti, with trials for these expected to follow later in the year.

    “It is encouraging to see the courts take the unprecedented step of bringing a former Army Chief to account for his alleged involvement in past human rights violations and crimes under international law. But Musharraf must be held accountable for all violations committed under his rule, not just a select few,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    August 05, 2013

    The Sri Lankan authorities must not allow the army to investigate itself over allegations of excessive use of force by its members after three protesters demonstrating over access to drinking water were killed over the weekend, Amnesty International said.  

    “The Sri Lankan army should have never been policing unarmed demonstrators in the first place, and having them investigate their own alleged abuses is simply ridiculous,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    “Sri Lankan authorities must urgently initiate an effective investigation into this tragic incident. The investigation must be independent, impartial and conducted with the professionalism, resources and powers necessary to unearth the truth about this incident. The army cannot be seen to investigate itself. Anything less will send the message that using excessive force against protesters is permitted.”

    Sri Lanka is legally bound by international human rights treaties to respect and protect the right to life, and provide effective remedy when this right is violated.

    August 02, 2013

    The Iranian authorities must seize the opportunity presented by a change of leadership to fulfil the aspirations of many Iranians and undertake a complete overhaul of human rights in the country, said Amnesty International ahead of the inauguration of the new President this weekend.  
     
    Hassan Rouhani, the 64-year old cleric who has been described as a moderate, will be sworn in as President on Sunday 4 August 2013. Amnesty International has published a set of recommendations to the Iranian authorities, setting out a road map to address the abysmal human rights situation in the country.

    "For too long Iran has failed to live up to its human rights obligations under domestic and international law. After years of repression and international isolation, the Iranian authorities must stop posturing and acknowledge the severity of human rights violations in the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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