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Human Rights Abuses

    October 31, 2016

    The fierce offensive on western Aleppo city launched by armed opposition groups on 28 October has been marked by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas that cannot be justified as a way to break the relentless siege that has sparked a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo, Amnesty International said.

    Up to 48 people including 17 children have been killed in civilian areas of government-controlled western Aleppo since the offensive began, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. 

    “The goal of breaking the siege on eastern Aleppo does not give armed opposition groups a license to flout the rules of international humanitarian law by bombarding civilian neighbourhoods in government-held areas without distinction,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 28, 2016

    The South Korean government must withdraw proposed rules that would increase the penalty for doctors who perform illegal abortions, said Amnesty International, ahead of mass demonstrations planned by women’s rights groups on 29 October.

    On 23 September, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a revision of a rule on “inappropriate medical practices” that could increase the penalty for doctors performing illegal abortions from the current one-month suspension of business to a possible maximum of 12 months.

    “This proposal, if enacted, would only perpetuate the existing criminalization of abortion in South Korea and is an obvious regression in the fight for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights. Decisions about their bodies and health should be made by the women and girls’ themselves, in consultation with their doctors, and not by politicians or officials,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    October 28, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for an prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the conduct of Myanmar’s security forces in the restive Rakhine state for human rights violations committed during ongoing security operations in the region.

    The organization has received numerous reports that Myanmar’s security forces operating in the state – home to most of the country’s oppressed Rohingya minority – are alleged to be involved in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, destroying people’s homes and crimes involving sexual violence amongst other violations. Ongoing restrictions on access to northern Rakhine State has made it extremely difficult to independently verify such claims.

    October 28, 2016

    The use of white phosphorus around the city of Mosul could pose a deadly risk to civilians fleeing the fighting in the coming days and weeks, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization received credible witness and photographic evidence of white phosphorus projectiles exploding in the air over an area north of the village of Karemlesh, about 20 kilometres east of Mosul. White phosphorus is an incendiary substance which burns at extremely high temperatures upon exposure to air.

    “White phosphorus can cause horrific injuries, burning deep into the muscle and bone. It is possible that some of it will only partially burn and could then reignite weeks after being deployed,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    “This means that civilians who flee the fighting around Mosul or residents returning to check on their homes in Karemlesh in the coming days or weeks would be at risk of serious harm even though there may be few visible warning signs.”

    October 27, 2016

    Military operations to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are endangering civilians who are being caught in the crossfire or in some cases being used as human shields by IS fighters, said Amnesty International from northern Iraq.

    The organization’s research team met with civilians displaced from their homes in villages north of Mosul in recent days who are now in Zelikan and Khazer camps, in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and conducted phone interviews with people still trapped under IS control, gathering fresh evidence pointing to civilian deaths and injuries during in recent days.

    “With more than a million people believed to be still trapped in Mosul and its outskirts, the risks to civilians are sky high. IS’s utter disregard for the safety of civilians and their apparently deliberate use of human shields is putting people trapped in areas of active conflict at even greater risk, as Iraqi forces advance,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional Office.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to reports that a flotilla of Russian warships destined for Syria is considering refuelling at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, Samah Hadid, Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, said:

    “Neither Spain nor any other country should refuel or provide any other logistical support to Russian warships en route to Syria, given the substantial risk that these ships will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to the news that nearly 30 civilians, including children, in the Firoz Koh district of Afghanistan’s Ghor province, were abducted and killed by an armed group suspected of links to the so-called Islamic State, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    “The abduction and killing of nearly 30 civilians, including children, is a horrendous crime. There can be no justification whatsoever for targeting and killing civilians under any circumstances.

    “The victims and their families deserve justice. The Afghan authorities must carry out an independent, impartial, and effective investigation into these killings. And the perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.”

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    October 24, 2016
    South Sudan: Deliberate killings by government troops as UN forces fail to protect civilians   South Sudanese government forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in Juba, the country’s capital, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today.   “South Sudanese government troops killed men from the Nuer ethnic group, raped women and girls, and carried out a massive campaign of pillage,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.   “These attacks by government forces are further proof of the urgent need to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, with the aim of stopping the flow of weapons, and establish an effective mechanism to monitor compliance. States should not be profiting off weapons that are being used to kill civilians.”  
    October 19, 2016

    The UN General Assembly (UNGA) must step in to fill the void left by the UN Security Council members’ catastrophic failure to end relentless attacks targeting the civilian population in eastern Aleppo city, said Amnesty International ahead of a UNGA meeting later today.

    The organization has released new satellite imagery illustrating the scale of destruction, as well as testimony from civilians trapped in the city, providing evidence that Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have callously attacked residential homes, medical facilities, schools, markets and mosques as part of a deliberate military strategy to empty the city of its inhabitants and seize control. In some cases there is evidence that Russian-made cluster munitions were used in attacks.

    October 18, 2016

    Heavy-handed measures by the Ethiopian government will only escalate a deepening crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 800 protesters since protests began in November 2015, said Amnesty International today after the government issued a directive imposing wide-ranging restrictions as part of a state of emergency.

    The directive authorizes arrests without warrants, as well as rehabilitation measures. When such measures have been used in the past, they have led to arbitrary detention of protesters at remote military facilities without access to their families and lawyers.

    “These emergency measures are extremely severe and so broad that they threaten basic human rights that must not be curtailed even under a state of emergency,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    October 17, 2016
    Paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq have committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, by torturing, arbitrarily detaining, forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executing thousands of civilians who have escaped areas controlled by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International in a new report published today.   The report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces exposes the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk of mass violations as the military operation to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul gets underway.   The report is based on interviews with more than 470 former detainees, witnesses and relatives of those killed, disappeared or detained, as well as officials, activists, humanitarian workers and others.  
    October 17, 2016

    Every effort must be made to protect civilians from the onslaught of war and potential revenge attacks in Mosul, said Amnesty International today as the operation to recapture the city from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State gets under way.

    Tomorrow, 18 October 2016, Amnesty International will launch a major new report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces which documents serious human rights violations - including war crimes committed by Iraqi militias and government forces against displaced civilians during past military operations. The report warns against a repeat of such violations on an even greater scale in the Mosul offensive.

    “Iraqi authorities must take concrete steps to ensure there is no repeat of the gross violations witnessed in Falluja and other parts of Iraq during confrontations between government forces and the Islamic State armed group,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    October 13, 2016

    Continued fighting in South Sudan must not derail justice for crimes committed during the deadly conflict that began in December 2013, said Amnesty International and FIDH in a joint briefing published today.

    The organizations are calling on the African Union (AU) Commission and the South Sudan government to urgently establish the proposed Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS).

    “Thousands have been killed, women raped, entire villages destroyed, and humanitarian personnel attacked. But as world attention has focused on ending the fighting, accountability for violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity has been put on the back burner,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    “Justice must not be delayed any further. Fresh violations should give added impetus to efforts to form the Hybrid Court.”

    October 11, 2016

    Member states of the international body responsible for monitoring the use of chemical weapons must trigger an investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, revealed by Amnesty International last month.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council will start a three-day meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in the Hague today. Many of the members who will be present at the meeting, including France and other EU member states, have expressed their alarm over the chemical weapons allegations.

    “Expressing concern and consternation will not suffice, we need to see concrete steps towards an independent investigation. We have credible evidence of horrific injuries, and estimates of up to 250 deaths, caused by dozens of suspected chemical weapons attacks against civilian populations over the past nine months,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

    October 10, 2016

    Reports about the resumption of humanitarian aid to 75,000 refugees stranded in a remote, arid area along the Jordanian-Syrian border called “the berm” are a long-awaited glimmer of hope that should be followed by a sustainable, long-term solution, Amnesty International said today.

    The news comes as the UN and the Jordanian authorities continue negotiations to open a humanitarian lifeline to the Syrians who have been stranded there since the Jordanian authorities sealed the border following an armed attack in June. Since then the refugees have endured hellish conditions with no aid except one delivery, made by crane in August.

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