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Human Rights Abuses

    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.

    August 01, 2013

    A ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court shows how the authorities have failed to provide justice for 85 people that died at the hands of the security forces in Tak Bai, Amnesty International said.

    “Today’s ruling ignores the actions of security forces and officials involved in events that led to deaths of 85 people. Their actions were either intentional or negligent and therefore those involved should be brought to court. Families have been waiting for more than eight years for justice,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    On 25 October 2004 security forces opened fire on protesters demonstrating outside Tak Bai police station in the southern province of Narathiwat.

    Seven were shot dead, and a further 78 were suffocated or crushed to death in army vans transporting them to a military detention camp. Some 1,200 people were also held in military custody for days without medical attention, many of whom were severely injured.

    July 31, 2013

    The Egyptian government’s decision to mandate security forces to end all pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo, considering recent violence against protesters, is a recipe for further bloodshed, Amnesty International said.

    “Given the Egyptian security forces' record of policing demonstrations with the routine use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, this latest announcement gives a seal of approval to further abuse,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International,.

    “The authorities as well as the security forces should start with an approach that avoids the use of force and is based on ‘methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation’, as recommended by international standards.”

    Earlier today, the Egyptian cabinet said, in a televised statement, that pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo are now considered a "threat to national security".

    However, they failed to specify what measures they would take to minimise violent confrontation and the potential loss of life and serious injury.  

    July 30, 2013

    Attempts by the Kenyan government to water-down key reforms to regulate the country’s police force will allow human rights violations to continue and officers to act with impunity, Amnesty International warned today.

    Amendments to a police reform package are likely to be debated in Parliament this week. It was originally introduced to ensure that serious human rights violations committed by the Kenyan police force during the 2007/2008 post-election violence could never be repeated.

    However amendments proposed by the Inspector General of Police, and endorsed by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Co-ordination, would severely weaken the reforms and eliminate many of the safeguards created to discipline and regulate the police force.

    “These reforms are vital for Kenya and it would be disastrous if they get diluted at the eleventh hour,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    July 29, 2013

    Evidence that the security forces have once again used unwarranted live fire and other excessive force underlines the crucial need for police reform, said Amnesty International after a weekend of violence left 90 dead.

    Security forces used live rounds and tear gas to disperse supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi during demonstrations on Saturday, leaving 80 people dead. A further 10 people were killed by gunfire during clashes in Alexandria.

    “The latest bloodshed should serve as a wake-up call to the Egyptian authorities over the urgency of police reform,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    The Interior Ministry has denied using live ammunition to disperse protests on 27 July. However, testimonies from injured protesters and eyewitnesses as well as medical and video evidence collected and examined by Amnesty International casts serious doubts on the Ministry of Interior’s version of events.

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