Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Human Rights Defenders

    May 24, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on opposition activists ahead of the upcoming 2018 presidential elections, arresting at least 36 people in 17 cities from five opposition parties and political youth groups, said Amnesty International today. Many were arrested in connection with comments they posted online about the elections.

    Among who have faced arrest is the former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali who was detained yesterday and released today on bail. He will now face trial on Monday for “violating public morals”. If convicted he faces a one year prison sentence or a fine. He would also be barred from running for the presidency. In February he acknowledged that he was considering a renewed presidential bid for 2018 elections.

    May 24, 2017

    The Israeli authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Qatamesh, a 67-year-old Palestinian academic, writer and political analyst who has been arbitrarily detained under a three month administrative detention order, said Amnesty International.

    Ahmed Qatamesh was seized during a pre-dawn raid on his home on 14 May 2017. Three days later a military commander signed an administrative order to detain him for three months despite the fact that he has not been charged with a criminal offence. An Israeli military court is due to confirm the detention soon. Under Israel’s administrative detention policies, Palestinians are routinely detained indefinitely on security grounds, without charge or trial, using renewable detention orders of up to six months.

    May 19, 2017
    Journalists in Mexico protested this May 16 against the killing of one of their colleagues and called on the government to take action.

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    The tragic news of the brutal murder of Javier Valdez Cárdenas, a Mexican journalist renowned for his fearless reporting of the drug war wreaking havoc across Mexico, has sent shockwaves through the country.

    His journalism was particularly well-known in his home town of Culiacán, in Sinaloa. There, thousands of people are virtual hostages of a war between ruthless drug cartels and a government that is at best, unable to protect its people and, at worse, in collusion with those it claims to be fighting against.

    Javier was gunned down by unidentified men near the office of Riodoce, the weekly newspaper he founded and one of the few in the state still reporting on the wave of deaths sweeping through the area.

    May 17, 2017

    By Guadalupe Marengo, Head of Global Human Rights Defenders Programme, Amnesty International

    May 17, 2017

    Amnesty International calls for investigation into ‘war crime’ leaks and stronger  whistleblower protection

    “It seems to me that transparency in government is a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring and protecting the freedom and dignity of all people.” – Chelsea Manning

    Chelsea Manning’s long overdue scheduled release from a US military prison today finally ends her punishment for exposing classified information, including of possible war crimes committed by the US military, Amnesty International said.

    May 15, 2017
    Amnesty International launches new global campaign to stop the wave of attacks against those defending human rights 281 people killed in 2016 for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015 Human rights defenders facing unparalleled global assault amid demonizing rhetoric, clampdowns on civil society and rampant use of surveillance

    >>Act Now

    Community leaders, lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders across the world are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, intimidation and violence, warned Amnesty International today as it launched a new global campaign demanding an end to the onslaught of attacks against brave individuals standing up to injustice.

    “What we are witnessing today is a full-frontal assault by governments, armed groups, corporations and others with power on the very right to defend human rights. Human rights defenders bear the brunt of this global attack,” said Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    May 14, 2017

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

    In early April, the courageous journalists at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred men suspected of being gay had been abducted, tortured, and some killed in a coordinated government campaign in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Men who are released from detention are not safe; they may face honour killings by family members. In response, Chechen officials denied the existence of gay men in Chechnya, and denied they had ordered ‘preventative mopping up’ of people considered to be undesirable.

    People worldwide were outraged. How could this be happening? What could be done to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities in Chechnya from discrimination and violence? What were we doing and could we do more?

    May 01, 2017

    By Ta*, an LGBT activist in Bangladesh

     

    “I might not come any longer. I’m afraid. You had to flee from one place to another out of fear of being slaughtered by the extremists. If something like that happens again, I don’t have the strength or ability to do things like you.” I have received many messages like this from fellow LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) activists in Bangladesh over the past year. On 25 April 2016, Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were killed mercilessly by extremists for promoting LGBT rights in Bangladesh – nothing has been the same since.

    April 27, 2017
    The arrest of nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists is the latest sign the authorities are intent on punishing dissenting voices about the future political status of the city, Amnesty International said. Police arrested the nine people involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement on Thursday morning. They are reported to face charges of public disorder and unlawful assembly for their involvement in a largely peaceful protest last November against a central government ruling on Hong Kong’s Basic Law.   "The repeated use of vague charges against prominent figures in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement reeks of an orchestrated and retaliatory campaign by the authorities to punish those that advocate for democracy in Hong Kong,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.   “The Hong Kong government should be protecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly but instead it appears intent on intimidating people who are challenging the authorities. Arrests and prosecutions aimed at shutting down participation in peaceful protests must stop.”  
    April 03, 2017

    The King of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment today that paves the way for military trials of civilians, in yet another example of Bahrain’s efforts to dismantle access to justice and fair trial, said Amnesty International.

    “This constitutional amendment is a disaster for the future of fair trials and justice in Bahrain. It is part of a broader pattern where the government uses the courts to crackdown on all forms of opposition at the expense of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut.

    “Instead of moving to correct its shameful history of unfair trials and impunity for violations, authorities in Bahrain have decided to further undermine faith in the independence and fairness of the courts and of the justice system as a whole.”   

    Amnesty International is alarmed by the vaguely worded amendment which could be used to try, before a military court, any critic deemed to be a threat to Bahrain’s national security or its “independence, sovereignty or integrity”, including – as has been the case in the past – peaceful activists prosecuted on trumped-up charges.

    March 21, 2017

    By Ahmed Elzobier, Sudan Researcher at Amnesty International

    Three Sudanese human rights defenders were released from jail on 6 March after paying a fine of 50,000 Sudanese Pounds (about 7,700 US dollars) each.

    Khalafalla Al-Afif Mukhtar, Midhat A. Hamdan and Mustafa Adam had been sentenced to one year in jail and a fine, but were released after nine months on time served after paying the exorbitant fines.  The crimes they were found guilty of? Two of them were convicted of dissemination of false information and one for espionage.

    All three are members of TRACKS, a human rights organization that provides training on a range of themes including human rights and information technology to civil society in Sudan.

    Over the last two years, TRACKS’ offices have been raided twice, on 26 March 2015 and 29 February 2016. On 22 May 2016, NISS officials detained several of its staff and members and charged them with a number of offences including crimes against the state.

    February 08, 2017

    The Zimbabwean authorities must drop all politically motivated charges against human rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire and stop using the criminal justice system to harass and intimidate him for his activism, Amnesty International and Civicus said today after the Harare High Court granted him bail and ordered his release on 9 February.

    Upon his return to Zimbabwe last week, he was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national Flag of Zimbabwe” in connection with protests he led in 2016 over corruption and economic decline.

    “Pastor Evan Mawarire is being subjected to political persecution through the courts for exercising his freedom of expression. His continued persecution has a chilling effect on peaceful activism in Zimbabwe,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The release of Pastor Evan Mawarire on bail is not enough, the politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn. The state cannot continue to harass and intimidate him simply for standing up for human rights.”

    January 26, 2017

    Nigel Rodley’s outstanding achievement, earning him a place in history, was to be an architect of the process leading to the international treaty which establishes acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as crimes under international law. He was also a kind and modest man who cared intensely about individuals’ human rights and whose commitment, humanity and sincerity inspired the deep respect and lasting affection of his colleagues.

    In his position as Amnesty International’s legal adviser, Nigel developed the long-range plan for Amnesty’s continuing campaign against torture, beginning with its submission to a 1975 UN Congress in Geneva on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, where representatives of more than a hundred states took part. That Congress formulated a Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1975.

    December 08, 2016

    The arrest of award-winning Sudanese human rights activist Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is further proof of the government’s intolerance of independent voices, said Amnesty International after his employer confirmed today that state agents arrested him in Khartoum on 7 December.

    He was arrested by National Intelligence Security Service agents at the University of Khartoum, where he works as an engineering professor, and taken to an undisclosed location, where he is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    He has not been informed of the reasons for his arrest or charged with any offence.

    “Mudawi’s arbitrary arrest underscores the government’s desperate attempts to extinguish the last embers of dissent in the country. This wanton repression and disregard for human rights must come to an end,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    November 27, 2016

    “The arrest of Zunar is an outrage. The charge of sedition against him must be dropped immediately and he must be unconditionally released from detention. What we are seeing is the choking of dissent in Malaysia, where repressive laws are being used to silence and punish peaceful voices under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Zunar’s arrest comes as Maria Chin Abdullah, the chair of the Bersih movement, unjustifiably remains in solitary confinement. She was arrested under repressive national security laws on 18 November, a day before thousands of activists took to the streets to peacefully demand electoral reforms and an end to corruption. Maria Chin Abdullah and all other prisoners of conscience should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    Background

    Pages

    Subscribe to Human Rights Defenders
    rights