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Human Rights Abuses

    August 22, 2016

    The legacy of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been shattered with at least eight people killed in police operations in the city during the Games and peaceful protests heavily repressed, Amnesty International said.

    “Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “The Brazilian authorities missed a golden opportunity to follow on their promises to implement public security policies to make Rio a safe city for all. The only way to undo some of many wrongs that took place during the Games is to ensure all killings and other human rights violations by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

    Rise in killings by police

    In 2016, police killings in Rio increased month on month as the city prepared to welcome the world.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 35 people in April 2016, 40 in May and 49 in June – an average of more than one every single day.

    August 17, 2016

    The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Bahá’í religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith, Amnesty International said today.

    Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday.

    “The arbitrary arrests of Bahá’í people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    August 15, 2016

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial bombardment of a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Yemen is an atrocious attack that could amount to a war crime, Amnesty International said today.  The Abs Rural Hospital which was hit at around 3:30pm local time, has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began to support it in July 2015.

    “The bombardment of this hospital is a deplorable act that has cost civilian lives, including medical staff who are dedicated to helping sick and injured people under some of the most challenging conditions. Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which would amount to a war crime. The circumstances of this attack must be thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Today’s air strike appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life.”

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    August 12, 2016

    A series of apparently coordinated blasts at tourist spots in southern Thailand overnight are reprehensible acts of violence that must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    At least four people were killed in the blasts and dozens more were injured as four bombs exploded in the resort town of Hua Hin and several others in Phuket, a popular tourist destination, as well as in Trang province.

    “Nothing can justify intentionally carrying out indiscriminate attacks, which disregard the basic right to life. These acts of violence show utter contempt for human rights,” said Champa Patel, Senior Research Advisor for Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Those behind the attacks must be brought to justice through fair trials. Amnesty International calls on Thai authorities to ensure their response is in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

    ******

    August 11, 2016

    Responding to today’s High Court ruling that Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and two others were subject to enforced disappearance and later executed by police, Victor Odero, Amnesty International’s East Africa Campaigner said:

    “The court’s determination is a watershed moment in the history of justice in Kenya as it sheds the spotlight on the common but under-reported scourge of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.”

    “The ruling is a fitting tribute to Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwendwa and Joseph Muiruri, as well as hundreds of other Kenyans who have been executed or disappeared at the hands of the police, and a victory for everyone who protested and demanded justice for them.”

    The court also ruled that Willie Kimani should be recognised as a champion of justice.

    August 08, 2016

    An apparently pre-planned suicide attack, which killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 50 others in a hospital in Quetta, south-western Pakistan, today is the latest in a series of horrific attacks by armed groups targeting ordinary people in Pakistan, said Amnesty International.

    “This is an absolutely senseless targeting of dozens of people, including patients and mourners. It has led to a devastating loss of life, and is an example of the string of attacks in recent years in Pakistan on schools, hospitals and other ‘soft targets’, which must cease immediately,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for South Asia, South East Asia and Pacific Regional Offices.

    “A full, independent and transparent investigation must be carried out into how and why this bombing took place, and whoever is responsible should be brought to justice as soon as possible in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.”

    August 08, 2016

    At least 97 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region and in parts of Amhara over the weekend, according to credible sources who spoke to Amnesty International.

    Thousands of protesters turned out in Oromia and Amhara calling for political reform, justice and the rule of law. The worst bloodshed - which may amount to extrajudicial killings - took place in the northern city of Bahir Dar where at least 30 people were killed in one day.

    “The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These crimes must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.”

    August 05, 2016

    Thailand’s referendum on a draft constitution takes place this Sunday against a backdrop of pervasive human rights violations that have created a chilling climate, Amnesty International said today.

    In the context of the referendum, the authorities have arbitrarily arrested scores of people, have cancelled or disrupted peaceful assemblies and took off the air a television station in recent weeks, marking just the most recent undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

    “If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “What we are seeing are not temporary measures that create peace and order as the authorities have argued, but a constant criminalisation of peaceful dissent designed to silence views that the authorities do not like. Immediate and long overdue steps must be taken to lift restrictions and guarantee rights.”

    August 02, 2016

    Responding to a speech today by Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which he criticized Amnesty International’s findings that some people detained in connection with Turkey’s failed coup attempt had been beaten and tortured, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “From day one, Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned the appalling violence committed by those behind the 15 July failed coup attempt. The organization has called for the Turkish government to bring the coup plotters to justice.

    “At the same time Amnesty International has urged Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and the rights of all those detained. The government must release all detainees unless there is a reasonable suspicion that they have committed a recognisable criminal offence.

    “The serious human rights violations documented by an Amnesty International team on the ground in Turkey are alarming. These findings are based on detailed interviews with lawyers, doctors, family members and an eyewitness to torture in a detention facility.

    August 02, 2016

    A shocking 103% percent increase in police killings in Rio de Janeiro between April and June of 2016 and 2015 has shattered any chance of a positive legacy to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, said Amnesty International three days before the opening ceremony.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 49 people in June 2016, 40 in May and 35 in April – more than one every single day.

    Since 2009, when Rio won the bid to host the Olympic Games, police have killed more than 2,600 people in the city.

    July 29, 2016

    An aerial attack which struck and partially destroyed a maternity hospital in rural Idlib province, north-western Syria, this afternoon appears to be part of a despicable pattern of unlawful attacks deliberately targeting medical facilities, Amnesty International said.

    The number of casualties in today’s attack is not yet clear, but a spokesperson from Save the Children, which supports the hospital, told media there were at least two fatalities. It is unclear who carried out the attack, but it was in an area under the control of armed groups where Syrian and Russian armed forces had been launching airstrikes.

    July 28, 2016

    Unfettered and impartial humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of thousands of civilians in Aleppo city on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies, said Amnesty International today.  

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    July 28, 2016

    Amid a fresh outbreak of fighting in South Sudan, a new report by Amnesty International reveals the true horror suffered by civilians at the hands of government forces after the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

    “We are still running”: War crimes in Leer, South Sudan, details how South Sudanese government forces and allied militia hunted down and killed civilians, raped and abducted women, stole cattle and torched villages in opposition strongholds in Leer County, Unity State, between August and December 2015.

    “These war crimes and other abuses committed across the country are the result of ongoing impunity that continues to fuel conflict in South Sudan, as seen in recent weeks of renewed fighting,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    July 27, 2016

    The release yesterday of six youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo by way of presidential pardons will be seen as little more than an exercise in window dressing unless all prisoners of conscience and others detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights are freed, said Amnesty International.

    Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivyavugha, Justin Kambale Mutsongo, Melka Kamundu, John Anipenda and Ghislain Muhiwa were released from Munzenze Prison with less than a month left to serve on their six-month sentence imposed for charges of “attempting to incite disobedience.”

    “While it is good news that the six are finally free to reunite with their families, their release at the tail-end of an unjust prison term resulting from trumped up charges is nothing to celebrate. They should never have been jailed in the first place,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Great Lakes Campaigner.

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