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Human Rights Abuses

    June 19, 2013

    The trial of 12 Kopassus (Special Forces Command) soldiers accused of the extrajudicial execution of four detainees is likely to be little more than a sham warned Amnesty International as the military hearing opens on Thursday.

    “These courts should never be used to try those accused of human rights violations. They are biased, and they create an intimidating environment for witnesses to testify,” said Isabelle Arradon, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme.

    Kopassus forces have been accused of a range of serious human rights violations in the past but the vast majority have never been tried in an independent court for these crimes.

    “This horrific case is a stark reminder of how reforms of the military and the justice system have been stalled for years in Indonesia. Perpetrators of past crimes run free and new abuses can be committed with apparent impunity. There has to be immediate changes in law and practice so that human rights violators can be effectively tried before independent, civilian courts, and to send a clear message that no one is above the law,” said Arradon.

    June 19, 2013

    Afghanistan: Talks with the Taliban must focus on justice and human rights

    Human rights, including women’s rights, must be integral to any peace deal with the Taliban said Amnesty International today as the USA announced that it was to start direct peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban armed group.

    The call comes as Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai announced that his country would boycott the peace talks unless they were “Afghan-led”, and on the heels of NATO handing over responsibility for security in the country to Afghan forces.

    The first meeting is due to take place imminently in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban have recently set up an office.
    “Any agreement with the Taliban must include clear red-line commitments that they will guarantee the rights of all Afghan women, men and children,” said Polly Truscott, deputy Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.
    “The peace process must not allow members of the Taliban or anyone else to be granted immunity from prosecution for serious human rights abuses and war crimes.”

    June 17, 2013

    The victory of Hassan Rouhani, a 64-year-old cleric, in Iran’s presidential election, presents a new opportunity to address human rights abuses in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Hassan Rouhani, described as a moderate and a pragmatist, made a number of pledges to improve Iran’s dire human rights record during his electoral campaign, for which he must be held accountable in the coming months.

    He plans to issue a “civil rights charter” which calls for equality for all citizens without discrimination based on race, religion or sex. It also calls for greater freedom for political parties and minorities, as well as ensuring the right to fair trial, freedom of assembly and legal protection for all.  

    “The proposed charter – if delivered and implemented - presents the potential for a decisive first step forward for human rights in Iran,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director.

    June 17, 2013

    The Spanish authorities are not investigating crimes under international law committed during the Civil War and Franco period, sending the message that impunity for human rights abuses is allowed, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Time passes, impunity remains examines how the Spanish authorities have refused to investigate tens of thousands of killings and disappearances committed during the Civil War by both parties to the conflict and under Francisco Franco’s rule (1936-1975). It is also not cooperating with other countries, such as Argentina, that have opened their own investigations into Spain’s historical abuses.

    “The fact that Spain is neither investigating nor cooperating with proceedings relating to crimes committed during the Civil War by both parties to the conflict or under Franco is a slap in the face of all the relatives of those who were abused and disappeared at the time,” said Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain.

    June 13, 2013

    Southern African leaders must ensure human rights are prioritized in the run-up to elections in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said ahead of a key summit on the country.

    The Southern African Development Committee (SADC) meets Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique to review the electoral process in Zimbabwe, where a general election will be held before 31 July.

    “The SADC has played a critical role in easing the tension in Zimbabwe since the political violence of 2008. Now it has the duty to ensure that the coming elections are held in an environment free from human rights violations, including violence,” said Noel Kututwa Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Program Director.

    “Specifically, the SADC should immediately deploy human rights monitors to Zimbabwe to oversee the period before, during and after the elections."

    On 31 May, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court ruled that elections must be held before the end of July.

    June 12, 2013

    A Yemeni man held by the US military has become the third person to seek victim status in an ongoing investigation by the Polish Prosecutor’s Office into Poland’s involvement in the US-led rendition and secret detention programmes.

    This morning Mariusz Paplaczyk, the Polish lawyer of Yemeni national Walid bin Attash, announced that yesterday he submitted an application requesting the Prosecutor's Office to grant his client with "injured person" (victim) status. After his arrest in Pakistan in 2003, Bin Attash passed through a number of CIA “black sites”, including one in Poland, before being taken to Guantánamo, where he currently awaits trial by military commission.

    The announcement came during a news conference in Warsaw to launch Amnesty International’s new report, Unlock the truth: Poland's involvement in CIA secret detention.

    June 12, 2013

    Members of Colombia ’s Congress should reject a proposed law whose purpose is to give greater powers to the military justice system and which will shield members of the armed forces and the police from justice for crimes under international law, Amnesty International said today.

    The law, due to be debated soon, will entrench impunity for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Colombia ’ssecurity forces.
    The security forces, either acting alone or in collusion with paramilitaries, and guerrilla groups continue to be responsible for serious abuses, including unlawful killings, forced displacement, torture, abductions or forceddisappearances, and sexual violence.

    Very few people have been brought to justice for these human rights breaches, and the proposed law will insulate Colombia ’s security forces from prosecution before civilian courts.

    June 12, 2013

    Iran’s authorities have intensified the clampdown on dissidents ahead of the country’s presidential election on 14 June, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing, Iran: Repression of dissent intensifies in run-up to presidential elections, documents dozens of arbitrary arrests and other human rights abuses in the run-up to election day, targeting journalists, political activists, trade unionists, advocates of greater rights for Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities, and students.

    “The escalation in repression is an outrageous attempt by the Iranian authorities to silence critics ahead of the presidential election,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The surge in recent violations underlines Iran’s continued and brazen flouting of human rights standards through its persecution of political dissidents and betrays the glaring absence of a meaningful human rights discourse in the election campaign.”

    June 06, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  7 June 2013  

    Civilians are among dozens of people who have been tortured, killed and disappeared, including while in detention, since the launch of the French army’s intervention in the country five months ago, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing Mali: Preliminary findings of a four-week mission. Serious human rights abuses, issued in the run-up to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali next month, is the result of a research mission carried out in May and June in the country.

    “The Malian security forces’ human rights record since January is, simply, appalling. They continue to violate human rights with apparently no fear of being held accountable,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International researcher and member of this research mission.

    During the visit, Amnesty International documented dozens of cases of detainees being tortured or ill-treated after being arrested for having alleged links with armed groups. The organization also documented more than 20 cases of extrajudicial-executions or enforced disappearances.

    June 05, 2013

    Human rights violations in China and Colombia are on the agenda at two public events on Saturday June 8th as activists from across Canada meet at Saint Paul University for the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch from June 7 - 9.

    The struggle to bring democracy and human rights protection in China will be the topic for a keynote address by Michel Cormier at the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International Canada at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Michel Cormier will give a talk in the auditorium of the university on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

    June 05, 2013

    Pakistan’s new government must not surrender respect for human rights in any potential peace talks with the Taliban or other armed groups, Amnesty International said.

    The organization also urged the new government, which takes office today (5 June), to make human rights a top priority during its term, starting with investigating election-related killings and other abuses that occurred over the last three months.

    “Pakistan has just passed a historic political milestone by seeing through this democratic transition. The new administration must now seize the opportunity to tackle the many human rights challenges facing the country,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    The transition to the new government, led by incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) party, marks the first time in Pakistan’s history that one elected civilian government is replaced by another, after seeing out a full term in office.

    June 01, 2013

    Urgent steps must be taken by the Turkish authorities to prevent further deaths and injuries and allow protestors access to their fundamental rights , as well as ensuring the security of all members of the public, Amnesty International said.

    Amnesty International kept its office, which is close the Taksim area, open as a safe haven for protestors escaping police violence throughout the night. 20 doctors are currently in the office and treating injured protestors. Other civil society organizations have taken similar actions.

    “Excessive use of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured,” said John Dalhusien, Director of Amnesty International for Europe.

    Amnesty International observers at the protests witnessed the use of water cannon against peaceful protestors as well as those throwing stones at police.  

    May 23, 2013

    Nigerian authorities must not use the state of emergency imposed in the north of the country as an excuse to commit human rights violations, Amnesty International urged today as the military continued its assault on Islamist armed group Boko Haram.

    Several people have reportedly been killed and hundreds arrested since a state of emergency was declared in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe on 14 May. The military reportedly claim those targeted are suspected members of Boko Haram.

    Some 2,400 people have fled the region for neighbouring Niger, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    "Issues of national security and the state of emergency do not give the military carte blanche to do whatever they want," said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa.

    “The onus is on the state to prove that they are not using an emergency as justification to run roughshod over people’s human rights.”

    May 22, 2013

    (London) Global inaction on human rights is making the world an increasingly dangerous place for refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said today as it launched its annual assessment of the world’s human rights.

    The organization said that the rights of millions of people who have escaped conflict and persecution, or migrated to seek work and a better life for themselves and their families, have been abused. Governments around the world are accused of showing more interest in protecting their national borders than the rights of their citizens or the rights of those seeking refugee or opportunities within those borders.

    “The failure to address conflict situations effectively is creating a global underclass. The rights of those fleeing conflict are unprotected. Too many governments are abusing human rights in the name of immigration control – going well beyond legitimate border control measures,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    May 22, 2013

    Zimbabwe’s new constitution presents a golden opportunity for the country to break away from a culture of impunity for human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    President Robert Mugabe today signed into law a new constitution, following a three-year constitution-making process to replace the Lancaster House constitution adopted at independence in 1980.

    “The new constitution is a positive development with the potential to increase ordinary people’s enjoyment of their basic rights,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International's Africa deputy director.

    “Not only is the world watching whether the country has truly turned the corner on this historic day, but millions of people in Zimbabwe hope that this new constitution will usher in a new political order where human rights are respected and protected.”

    The constitution-making process suffered ongoing delays and controversy, but March's referendum on the new constitution passed off relatively peacefully and resulted in an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote.

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