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Human Rights Abuses

    May 30, 2016

    In a shocking attack on the right to freedom of expression Bahrain’s authorities today upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh  ‘Ali Salman and increased his prison sentence from four to nine years for giving speeches in which he criticized the government, said Amnesty International.

    “Sheikh ‘Ali Salman’s conviction is clearly politically motivated and is designed to send a message to others that even legitimate and peaceful demands for reform will not go unpunished. He is a prisoner of conscience and should never have been put on trial in the first place. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2016

    The sentencing of a former Argentinean military leader for his role in hundreds of enforced disappearances in the context of a region-wide intelligence operation must open the door to further investigations to bring all those responsible to justice, said Amnesty International.

    Former de facto President Reynaldo Bignone was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a court in Buenos Aires. Fourteen other military officers were also sentenced to prison terms.

    “This is a day for celebration in South America. This historic ruling sends the important message that justice will always prevail,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Today’s ruling must be the first step towards real justice for the many victims of this Machiavellian operation, which left a long trail of suffering and horror throughout Latin America. Governments in countries who had a direct or indirect role in aiding Operation Condor must left no stone unturned to ensure all those responsible face justice so these terrible crimes never happen again.”

    May 26, 2016

    Dozens of detainees held in dire conditions in poorly ventilated metal shipping containers, fed only once or twice a week and given insufficient drinking water are at risk of death, warned Amnesty International today. 

    According to information obtained by the organisation, these conditions have apparently resulted in the deaths of multiple detainees at the Gorom detention site, located about 20km south of the capital Juba. Soldiers also periodically take them out of the containers and beat them.

    “Detainees are suffering in appalling conditions and their overall treatment is nothing short of torture,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “This egregious disregard for human life and dignity must stop and for that to happen, the detention site should be immediately shut down until conditions are brought into compliance with human rights standards.”

    May 20, 2016

    The Kazakhstani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release almost three dozen activists after dramatic wave of arrests, apparently aimed at blocking peaceful demonstrations from going ahead this weekend, Amnesty International said.

    At least 34 activists have been arrested across the country over the past three days, many of them for the “crime” of publicly stating their intention to participate in the peaceful protests, planned for 21 May, or for posting information about them on Facebook and other social media.

    “To prosecute people merely for intending to exercise their human right to peaceful assembly is beyond belief,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “It is scandalous that dozens of Kazakhstani citizens should be rounded up simply for sharing the details of a peaceful protest, or for saying that they wish to take part in it. The Kazakhstani authorities must release these people immediately and respect their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.”

    May 18, 2016

     

    The Malaysian government’s plans to revoke or refuse to issue passports to critics is yet another demonstration of increasing intolerance in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Datuk Sakib Kusmi, the Immigration Department’s Director-General, is quoted as saying that critics of the government could be denied the right to travel for three years.

    “A travel ban on critics will mark a dangerous escalation in the government’s ongoing crackdown on dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. “The right to freedom of speech is a key human right which the Malaysian people deserve to enjoy just like any other people.”

    May 17, 2016

    Released  00:01 GMT Wednesday 18 May 2016

    The Huthi armed group, supported by state security forces, has carried out a wave of arrests of its opponents, arbitrarily seizing critics at gunpoint and subjecting some to enforced disappearance as part of a chilling campaign to quash dissent in areas of Yemen under its control, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Where is my father? Detention and disappearance in Huthi-controlled Yemen, which is based on 60 cases of detention examined in detail by the organization, reveals a pattern of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances in Sana’a, Ibb, Ta’iz and Hodeidah between December 2014 and March 2016. Those targeted include political opposition figures, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and others. Many have been held incommunicado for prolonged periods, suffered torture and other ill-treatment and been denied access to a lawyer or their family.

    May 17, 2016

    Today’s multiple bombings in Baghdad, in which media agencies have reported the deaths of at least 63 people and injuries to at least 90 others, are the latest in a horrific spike in deadly attacks that have hit the country over the past week, Amnesty International said today.

    “The spike in deadly bomb attacks across Baghdad, in predominantly Shia areas, will outrage anyone who places value on human life,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The bloody toll from these attacks, which is predominantly civilian, has been growing steadily over the past seven days.”

    “Today’s sickening attacks, carried out in daytime, in areas well known to be frequented by civilians such as busy markets, display a total disregard for the lives of civilians and the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.”

    May 13, 2016

    Accountability for human rights violations and abuses should be an indispensable part of the regional response to Boko Haram, Amnesty International said today.

    As world leaders meet today for the Regional Security Summit in Abuja to discuss the collective effort to defeat Boko Haram and reconstruct the Lake Chad region, Amnesty International calls on them to ensure that justice remains a priority and to increase efforts to protect civilians.

    “Whether they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram, or of the security forces who were supposed to protect them, the conflict’s thousands of victims deserve justice,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    “Despite repeated promises, governments affected by the conflict have not adequately investigated evidence of crimes under international law and human rights abuses and violations nor taken steps to prosecute and bring to trial the suspected perpetrators. Now is the time to put those promises into action.”

    May 11, 2016

    The Ugandan authorities must halt the shameful assault on human rights that has cast a stain on the country’s electoral and post-electoral period, said Amnesty International today, on the eve of President Yoweri Museveni inauguration for a fifth five-year term.

    “President Museveni’s inauguration comes amidst a crackdown on the rights to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The arbitrary detention of political opposition leaders and their supporters, the recent ban on live media coverage of opposition activities and the violent disruption of peaceful opposition gatherings in the lead up to and since election day not only violate Uganda’s own Constitution, but also fly in the face of its regional and international human rights obligations.”

    Read more:

    Uganda: Violations against opposition party impeding its efforts to contest election outcome (26 February 2016)

    May 10, 2016

    If President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is serious about introducing change in the Philippines, he must turn his back on the history of human rights violations and end the prevailing culture of impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    Rodrigo Duterte, the former Mayor of Davao city, is set to become the newly-elected President of the Philippines after leading the voting in the 9 May 2016 election. Duterte’s principal rivals have conceded defeat.

    “If Rodrigo Duterte is serious about bringing change to the Philippines, he should address the dire human rights situation in the country and put an end to extrajudicial executions, unlawful arrests, secret detention as well as torture and other ill-treatment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South East Asia.

    During the course of the presidential election campaign, Duterte has issued a series of inflammatory statements that, if enacted, would contravene the Philippines’ international human rights obligations, including his promise to reduce crime rates by shooting suspected criminals.

    May 05, 2016

    The daily security threats that plague the lives of Iraqi civilians must not open the door to more human rights violations, Amnesty International warned today at the end of a six-day trip to Baghdad and Erbil headed by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    Both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to investigate a string of abuses by their respective militias and security forces.

    “The atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS) armed group do not give a free pass to Shi’a militias and Kurdish Peshmerga to go on the rampage in blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Salil Shetty.

    “The Iraqi authorities and their international backers should ensure human rights are not sacrificed in the fight against IS. Even during conflict there are rules that must be observed - the protection of civilians is paramount.”

    May 03, 2016

    More than 1,000 detainees, including some as young as 15, are being held without charge in horrendous conditions at makeshift holding centres in Anbar governorate, west of Baghdad, said Amnesty International today.

    A delegation led by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, gained access on 30 April to a centre run by Anbar’s counter-terrorism agency (Mukafahat al-Irhab) in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, where 683 male detainees are held without charge.

    The detainees are cramped into several rooms within a complex of disused warehouses being used as a detention and interrogation facility.

    “The detainees are squeezed into a space of less than one square metre each, sitting in a crouching position day and night, unable to stretch or lie down to sleep and are rarely allowed outside for fresh air,” said Salil Shetty.

    “It was a truly shocking sight – hundreds of human beings packed together like sardines in a tin and held in inhumane and degrading conditions for months on end.”

    April 29, 2016

    The government of North Korea must immediately disclose all details in the court case of U.S. citizen Kim Dong-chul, who was sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour for “spying,” in what appears to be yet another politically motivated decision, said Amnesty International today.

    Kim, a 62-year-old who was born in South Korea, is the latest foreigner to be sentenced to hard labour.

    “The timing of this sentence, amid increasing international tension, calls into question the motivation behind the proceedings. The judicial system is notoriously political, and foreign nationals in particular are very unlikely to receive a fair trial in the country, but few other details have been made public,” said Arnold Fang, East Asia Researcher of Amnesty International.

    “This entire trial has been shrouded in secrecy, and the North Korean authorities must present the evidence for these alleged crimes and make court proceedings fully transparent, so that the international community can see whether a fair trial took place. Otherwise, questions about these convictions will continue.”

    April 29, 2016

    A court ruling that allows the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to continue to keep 16 soldiers detained raises further serious concerns about their ability to have a fair trial, Amnesty International said today, following a decision announced by the Lesotho Court of Appeal. 

    The Appeals Court turned down a request by the soldiers to be placed under “open arrest”, a form of military bail, after they challenged their ongoing detention under “closed arrest” since May and June 2015.

    The High Court had previously ordered that the men be released on “open arrest” but the LDF, who are detaining the men in Maseru Maximum Security Prison, did not comply with the ruling. Today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals thereby overruled the earlier High Court decision. 

    “Today’s decision by the Lesotho Court of Appeal to deny bail to 16 soldiers who have been held in maximum security since June last year raises serious questions about the Lesotho’s justice system,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 26, 2016

    Released 27 April 2016 at 00:01 Brazil time (03:01 GMT)

    Residents in many of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are living in terror after at least 11 people have been killed in police shootings since the beginning of the month, Amnesty International warned ahead of the 100-day countdown to the Olympic Games.

    In the city of Rio alone, at least 307 people were killed by the police last year, accounting for one in every five homicides in the city. Meanwhile the authorities have failed to hold those responsible to account and have increasingly taken a hard-line approach against mainly peaceful street protests.

    “Despite the promised legacy of a safe city for hosting the Olympic Games, killings by the police have been steadily increasing over the past few years in Rio. Many have been severely injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and even firearms used by police forces during protests,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil. 

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