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Human Rights

    January 23, 2017

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    The next head of the African Union (AU) Commission must place human rights at the centre of the organization’s operations, said Amnesty International as leaders of the 54-member body prepare to elect a new chairperson at a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

    “The incoming chairperson must make the promotion and protection of human rights not just a convenient afterthought, but an essential and sustainable element of the African Union’s conflict prevention strategy.” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    The organization reiterates that ensuring accountability for gross human rights violations should be one of the priorities of the new chairperson of the AU Commission.

    "There has been some progress in the last two years, including the historic conviction of former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity. But more needs to be done,”

    January 23, 2017

    Amnesty International is pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage during 2017, the 150th year of Canadian Confederation.  Significantly, 2017 is also the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The call comes as the organization releases its annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2016 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings, particularly the failure to uphold the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who continue to suffer serious human rights violations in the shadow of Canada's colonial legacy.

    January 20, 2017

    The Cameroonian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release two civil society leaders arrested in the English-speaking part of the country, and lift the ban imposed on their organization, Amnesty International said today.

    On 17 January the Minister of Territorial Administration banned the activities of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC). The president of the CACSC, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, and its Secretary General, Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba, were arrested, sparking protests in the southwest city of Buea. 

    On the same day both Agbor-Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba had signed a statement calling for protest activities to be carried out without violence.

    “These two men have been arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. This flagrant disregard for basic rights risks inflaming an already tense situation in the English-speaking region of the country and is clearly an attempt to muzzle dissent,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa Researcher.

    January 20, 2017

    As Donald Trump takes the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States, Amnesty International is pressing him and his administration to protect human rights in the USA and abroad.  

    “As president, Donald Trump must abandon the hateful rhetoric that riddled his campaign and commit to protecting human rights for everyone,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

    In particular, Amnesty International is calling on Trump to protect those affected by armed conflict and crisis, and to uphold protections for human rights defenders.

    “We are in the middle of a global humanitarian crisis. There are more people fleeing violence and unrest than at any time since World War II,” said Huang. “The United States has long welcomed those seeking refuge; indeed it is a country that has been largely founded and built by immigrants and refugees.”

    January 19, 2017

    Ahead of the second reading of a bill to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence in the Russian State Duma, Anna Kirey, Deputy Director for Campaigns for Russia and Eurasia at Amnesty International, said:

    “This bill is a sickening attempt to trivialize domestic violence, which has long been viewed as a non-issue by the Russian government. Far too often victims find they cannot rely on the law for protection and their abusers are let off the hook, with only a tiny fraction imprisoned for their actions.

    “The authors of this legislation, chillingly dubbed the “slapping bill”, are betraying the victims of domestic violence and effectively giving their abusers a free pass. Claims that this will somehow protect families or preserve traditions are ludicrous – domestic violence destroys lives.

    “Recently proposed amendments that would preserve criminal liability in cases of violence against under age children, pregnant women and persons in a state of helplessness do nothing to soften the fundamentally discriminatory nature of this legislation.

    January 18, 2017

    Soldiers Arbitrarily Detained as Political Crisis Deepens

    (Dakar, January 18, 2017) –President Yahya Jammeh’s declared state of emergency in Gambia provides no justification for a crackdown on peaceful dissent around the January 19, 2017 deadline for the new government to take office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    Since January 15, security forces loyal to President Jammeh have arbitrarily detained at least five officers and enlisted men suspected of opposing Jammeh’s bid to remain in office. Since Jammeh rejected the December 1, 2016 election results on December 9, Gambian authorities have arbitrarily arrested opposition sympathizers and closed four independent radio stations.   The state of emergency raises fears of further repression against opposition supporters around the planned January 19 inauguration of president-elect Adama Barrow. Many Gambians have fled the country out of concerns for their security.

    January 16, 2017

    As political and business leaders gather at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, the heads of six of the world’s largest campaigning organizations have called on them to immediately and urgently repudiate narratives of fear, division and blame, and recommit themselves to working together towards a free, just, sustainable and equitable world.

    In a joint statement released days before Donald Trump is inaugurated as President of the United States, the leaders of Amnesty International, Avaaz, Greenpeace International, International Trade Union Confederation, Oxfam International, and Transparency International have strongly condemned the new climate of permissiveness for hate crimes and discrimination which has arisen in numerous countries. They stressed that those who peddle the politics of fear and scapegoating are offering the wrong remedies to social and economic grievances.

    An extract from the statement reads:

    January 03, 2017

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombings, that targeted civilians in the predominantly Shi’a neighborhood of Sadr city, Baghdad. In response, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.said:

    “The systematic targeting of civilians in busy neighborhoods during day time, shows the Islamic State’s appalling disregard for human life and an intent to harm and terrorize a civilian population. By claiming responsibility for these horrific attacks, the Islamic State is boasting of committing war crimes.

    “Such deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified and constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law. They must be stopped immediately and those behind the attacks must be brought to justice.”

    According to media reports, the multiple bombings left at least 35 people dead and more than sixty injured, with one targeting a busy market in the heart of Sadr city, another targeting the nearby car park of Al-Kindi hospital and the third exploding near the Jawader hospital.

    December 23, 2016

    Following the United Nations Security Council’s adoption of a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York, said:

    “At the close of a shameful year for the Security Council, where divisions repeatedly blocked the adoption of key resolutions to protect the most vulnerable, today’s decision to finally pass a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements is a welcome step.

    “This is the first time in almost four decades that such a resolution has been passed. During this time, settlements not only continued to be built, but at an accelerated pace.

    “The resolution includes a crucial demand that the Israeli authorities immediately halt all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such activities constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitute a war crime.

    December 23, 2016

    The United Nations Security Council’s failure to approve a 23 December, 2016, resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan and placed a travel ban and asset freeze on three senior South Sudanese leaders was deeply disappointing, seven non-governmental groups said today.

    The measure failed to gain the nine votes needed to pass, with seven in favour and eight abstentions.

    “South Sudanese civilians had a reasonable expectation that the Security Council would make good on its long-standing threat to impose an arms embargo and extend sanctions to some of the senior leaders who have been responsible for grave human rights abuses” said John Prendergast, founding director at the Enough Project.

    “I can only imagine their frustration with today’s vote.”

    Amnesty International, Control Arms, Enough Project, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Humanity United, Human Rights Watch and PAX issued the statement jointly.

    December 19, 2016

    Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

    “The Government is almost giving the impression that this information is a bolt from the blue – when the reality is that Amnesty and others have been reporting on Saudi Arabia’s use of UK cluster munitions in Yemen for months.

    “Back in May we revealed how the Saudi coalition had been using British-made cluster bombs in their attacks near Yemeni villages and farms in the north of the country.

    “Over the years, the UK has sold billions and billions of pounds’ worth of weapons – including cluster bombs – to Saudi Arabia, and it’s hardly a surprise they’re turning up in bombed-out villages in Yemen.

    “Thousands of Yemeni civilians have already been killed and injured by the Saudi coalition’s reckless and indiscriminate bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and factories.

    December 13, 2016

    As the National Assembly and the Senate vote on the renewal of the state of emergency today and tomorrow, Amnesty International is calling on parliamentarians to reject the extension of these disproportionate measures.

    After four extensions and more than a year under the state of emergency the risks and knock-on effects of these measures are becoming all too apparent.

    Not only is the effectiveness of the state of emergency seriously in question, but the consequences on those targeted under its provisions are very real. The rights of hundreds of men, women and children have been trampled, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized.

    While it is the duty of the authorities to take necessary measures to protect the population, it is also their responsibility to ensure that any derogation from international standards does not become the norm and to demonstrate the necessity for the renewal.

    December 12, 2016

    The federal government has come halfway in improving the country’s human rights record.  A year-end Report Card assessment by Amnesty International finds notable progress on half of the human rights recommendations included in the organization’s December 2015 Human Rights Agenda for Canada.  The government has, however, stumbled or failed when it comes to the other half. Protection of Indigenous rights are among the areas where the Trudeau government has faltered most notably, giving rise to increasing levels of concern.

    December 12, 2016

    NEW YORK – Responding to reports that President-elect Donald Trump’s intends to nominate Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State and John Bolton to serve as Deputy Secretary, Eric Ferrero, director of communications for Amnesty International USA released the following statement:

    “These reported nominations are deeply troubling and could undermine human rights in the US and abroad.As Secretary of State, Tillerson would be the U.S.’s chief diplomat and, as such, will be the face of Trump’s policy around the world. We know that Tillerson has been successful in safeguarding the interests of a massive oil company – will he be as invested in safeguarding human rights abroad?

    “In this role, Tillerson would have to exert pressure on governments worldwide to comply with human rights standards, including Russia. The Senate should question him vigorously about his relationship to a government with such a poor human rights record. The U.S. must have a Secretary of State that will hold all countries accountable for human rights violations – even countries that have profited from his business.

    December 12, 2016

    Changes to labour laws in Qatar barely scratch the surface and will continue to leave migrant workers, including those building stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup, at the mercy of exploitative bosses and at risk of forced labour, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    New name, old system? Qatar’s new employment law and abuse of migrant workers, details the failings of Qatar’s meagre labour reforms which the government has said will overhaul key aspects of the country’s sponsorship system. The briefing warns that the risk of forced labour and other abuses remains high for migrant workers, including those building World Cup stadiums, transport infrastructure and other key facilities like hotels.

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