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Human Rights Abuses

    May 15, 2013

    Today’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on Syria is a positive step but it does little to address the immense ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in the country, Amnesty International said.

    The non-binding resolution – which 107 states voted to adopt – encourages, among other things, the UN Security Council to “consider appropriate measures” that would ensure accountability for the ongoing violence and human rights violations in Syria. Russia was among the 12 countries who voted against the measure, while 59 abstained.

    The resolution contains the UNGA’s strongest call yet for independent and impartial investigations of all suspected violations of human rights and international humanitarian law since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. Russia and China have three times vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the situation in Syria.

    May 10, 2013

    The detention of a female lawyer in Sudan, whose whereabouts are still unknown, is the latest in the authorities’ brutal campaign against human rights activists in the context of the conflict in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, Amnesty International said.

    Asma Ahmed, a lawyer and member of the banned opposition party the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), was arrested on 4 May when she reported to the office of the Sudanese National Security Services (NSS) in Khartoum.

    Two days earlier, NSS officers had gone to her house demanding that she report to them.

    Asma Ahmed has been held incommunicado since her arrest, without charge, placing her at high risk of torture or other forms of ill-treatment. She is diabetic and requires medical care and a special diet.

    “The arrest of Asma Ahmed is yet another example of the Sudanese authorities’ determination to stifle freedom of association and the work of human rights activists in the country,” said said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    May 08, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT  9 May 2013

    Twenty years after its independence, Eritrea’s prisons are filled with thousands of political prisoners, locked up without ever being charged with a crime, many of m are never heard from again, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    Twenty years of independence but still no freedom details how throughout the past two decades government critics, journalists and people practising an unregistered religion, as well as people trying to leave the country or avoid indefinite conscription into national service have been detained without charge in unimaginably atrocious conditions.

    “The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people’s lives,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Eritrea researcher.

    “Twenty years on from the euphoric celebrations of independence, Eritrea is one of the most repressive, secretive and inaccessible countries in the world.”

    May 07, 2013

    The Bangladeshi authorities must immediately set up an independent and impartial investigation into police use of force after at least 44 people died in violent clashes between protesters and the police, Amnesty International said.

    Tens of thousands of supporters of the Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam took to the streets in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh on 5 May and the early hours of 6 May.

    They demanded the introduction of stricter religious laws, including the introduction of a blasphemy law and restrictions on women’s human rights, including their freedom of movement.

    The demonstrations turned violent as protesters clashed with police in Dhaka.

    “There is considerable confusion about what really happened, and why the deaths occurred. There must urgently be an immediate independent and impartial investigation into the events, including the police use of force. The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    May 07, 2013

    Serious human rights violations and denial of fundamental freedoms in Equatorial Guinea are casting a shadow over campaigning ahead of the May 26, 2013 legislative elections, Amnesty International, EG Justice, and Human Rights Watch said in a statement released today.

    The organizations expressed concern over several incidents of politically motivated arrests in recent months. They also cited ongoing harassment of the country’s political opposition, reports of voter intimidation, and the denial of free speech and other rights in the lead-up to the election. Human Rights Watch and EG Justice also expressed concern about biased electoral processes and restrictive conditions for international observers.

    “President Obiang often says that Africans should demand a voice in global affairs, but he denies one to the people of Equatorial Guinea,” said Tutu Alicante, executive director at EG Justice, which presses for human rights and the rule of law in Equatorial Guinea. “The sad truth is that Equatoguineans have never experienced a free and fair election.”

    April 23, 2013

    Human rights for Canada’s most vulnerable groups will be under scrutiny this week in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council. On Friday 26 April the Council will examine Canada’s human rights record in the second UN Universal Periodic Review.  The first review of all UN Member States, in the process that began in 2006, was completed in 2011. In advance of the second review Amnesty International has submitted a detailed submission outlining concerns about Canada’s record.

    “This important review of Canada’s record must address human rights issues for Indigenous Peoples,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada.  “The rising inequality of women and trends in sexual violence, arbitrary detention and forced return of migrants, concerns regarding torture, plus excessive policing during protests also demand scrutiny. A positive and constructive attitude from Canada would help improve human rights protection in Canada and set a positive example for other countries to follow.”

    April 22, 2013

    The conviction of 23 Brazilian police officers for killing inmates in a prison massacre two decades ago is a "vital" step towards justice, Amnesty International has said.

    The officers were sentenced yesterday to 156 years each in jail for their role in the deaths of 13 inmates during bloody riots at São Paulo's Carandiru prison in 1992, in which more than 100 inmates died.

    "The victims, their families and survivors of this brutal, shocking crime have waited 20 years for justice," said Atila Roque, Director of Amnesty International in Brazil.

    "This vital, if long overdue, ruling will hopefully kickstart a process that brings all those responsible for the killings to justice, including those in command."

    The Carandiru case has become emblematic of the flaws in São Paulo’s criminal justice system and its inability to deal with human rights violations.

    The authorities have failed to investigate the role of senior state government officials, while the conviction of the military operation’s commanding officer Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães was controversially overturned in 2006.

    April 15, 2013

    Brazil: Carandiru massacre trial must end long legacy of impunity

    A court trial this week over police responsibility for a Brazilian prison massacre two decades ago must signal the beginning of the end for a long legacy of impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    According to the human rights organization, the failure of Brazilian authorities in bringing anyone to justice for the Carandiru killings has reinforced longstanding abuses that have characterized Brazil’s detention system.

    More than 20 years after São Paulo state police repressed a jail riot in Carandiru prison, killing 111 prisoners, 26 rank and file police officers who allegedly took part on the deadly operation are due to face trial – the first of four trials opens today after being adjourned last week.

    “This trial must be a turning point”, said Atila Roque, Amnesty International’s Brazil Office director. “For years, the delay in bringing those responsible for the Carandiru massacre to justice has been a dark cloud hanging over the whole country – we hope that now this impunity is finally coming to an end.”

    April 04, 2013

    Israel’s military response to protests in the West Bank is failing to respect the human rights of Palestinians, Amnesty International said today as the number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli fire in the area since the beginning of 2013 reached eight.

    Ongoing Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation have further escalated this week following renewed anger over detention conditions of Palestinian political detainees and prisoners, including the death in custody of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian prisoner with cancer held by Israel since 2002.

    The protests look set to continue following the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers who were killed by Israeli forces at a military post near the settlement of Enav in the northern West Bank on Wednesday.

    “For years we and other human rights organizations have documented how the Israeli army has used excessive force against protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, often resulting in unlawful killings and injuries,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty |nternational’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    April 04, 2013

    The winner of Venezuela’s presidential elections on April 14 must implement policies that ensure the full protection of human rights in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    "Even though there has been some important human rights progress in Venezuela - particularly in terms of economic and social rights for the most vulnerable sectors - there are significant challenges ahead for the new president if the country is to step up to its full responsibilities," said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Program Director.

    In a letter sent to all the presidential candidates, Amnesty International highlighted the urgency for Venezuela to rescind its withdrawal from the American Convention on Human Rights and, consequently, the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

    "Failure to respect the American Convention on Human Rights is an affront to Venezuela’s victims of human rights who are denied the possibility of turning to this important body of international legal protection," said Marengo. “The new Venezuelan President must reverse this decision as soon as possible.”

    March 28, 2013

    A Syrian university located in a government-controlled area has been hit with mortar rockets, reportedly killing up to 15 and injuring many more in what Amnesty International branded a serious violation of the laws of war.

    The attack on the Architecture Faculty of Damascus University came amid escalating fighting in the area in recent days.

    “Those who endure the worst atrocities in this brutal conflict are civilians. All sides must abide by international humanitarian law and avoid attacks which indiscriminately kill and injure civilians,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “It’s not yet clear who was responsible for firing the mortars in this attack, which landed in a government-controlled area, but one thing is obvious, they are being fired into areas with a large civilian population. Mortars are completely inappropriate for use in civilian areas. Even if the intended target was a military objective, the choice of mortars to attack a target in proximity to civilians displays a callous disregard for their fate and the rules of international humanitarian law.”

    March 28, 2013

    Elements of government forces, along with armed militias, are carrying out multiple large-scale attacks against civilians in North Darfur in what represents the worst instance of violence in recent years, Amnesty International says in a briefing today.

    Border Guards, who are under the authority of the Sudanese Military Intelligence, have been involved in attacks that have reportedly killed more than 500 people so far this year.

    According to the UN, roughly 100,000 people have been displaced since violence broke out on 5 January when an officer of the Border Guards and leader of the Rizeigat tribe both laid claim to a gold-rich piece of land in Jebel ‘Amer.

    Amnesty International is calling upon the Sudanese government to ensure a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into these allegations.

    “Any member of the Border Guards who is reasonably suspected of involvement in committing such attacks must be immediately suspended from their posts,” says Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    March 26, 2013

    Global pressure must be applied to all parties in the Syrian conflict to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law, Amnesty International said as the League of Arab States gathered in Qatar for a summit and BRICS nations met at a separate event in South Africa.

    The Arab League gathering – where the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has been given Syria’s seat after the suspension of the Syrian government in November 2011 – should see a tough message emerge against abuses perpetrated by armed groups.

    “The opposition must not waver - it has both a duty and an opportunity to denounce abuses carried out by armed opposition groups and stand in line with international humanitarian law - paying lip service to it is not enough” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director.

    March 21, 2013

    The North Korean government must co-operate fully with a new UN investigation - the Commission of Inquiry - into grave, systematic and widespread human rights violations in the country, Amnesty International said.

    The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva passed without a vote a resolution to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in North Korea.
    Rajiv Narayan, North Korea Researcher for Amnesty International, said:

    “The Commission of Inquiry is a positive step towards addressing the dire human rights situation in North Korea. UN Member States have today sent a clear message to the North Korean authorities that those responsible for crimes against humanity will ultimately be held to account.

    “Millions of people in North Korea suffer extreme forms of repression. Hundreds of thousands, including children, remain in political prison camps and other forms of detention where forced hard labour, torture and other ill treatment is systemic.

    March 21, 2013

    The Turkish authorities must act on today’s announcement of ceasefire by the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdulah Ocalan, Amnesty International said today.  

    “The Turkish authorities must seize the opportunity created by PKK chief Abdulah Ocalan’s call for a truce and work for a lasting peace based on justice for victims of human rights abuses committed by both sides during  the decades of conflict,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    “The road to peace will throw up challenges but an atmosphere of openness and free exchange of opinion will provide the surest foundation for the negotiations the Turkish authorities have been having with the PKK in recent months.”

    “Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an end of the violence, an impartial investigation into human rights violations and for the promotion of the economic social and cultural rights of the Kurdish minority.”

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