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Human Rights Abuses

    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.

    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.”

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