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Human Rights

    February 03, 2017

    In a landmark judicial review case on 7, 8 and 10 February, the UK High Court will determine the legality of the UK government’s arms transfers to Saudi Arabia amid the current armed conflict in Yemen.

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rights Watch (UK) and Oxfam will make submissions to the Court, in a legal challenge brought by Campaign against Arms Trade (CAAT).

    “The UK government’s repeated refusal to halt arms transfers beggars belief, given the extensive and credible reporting showing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s ongoing serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes,” said James Lynch, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    “It is a sad state of affairs that NGOs have to go to court in an effort to force the UK government to do the right thing for the people of Yemen. 

    February 02, 2017

    With Prof. Homa Hoodfar, Mohamed Fahmy and other ex-prisoners of conscience.

    Friday, February 3, 2017, 6:30 to 8:30 PM

    University of Toronto Earth Sciences Building Auditorium,

    5 Bancroft Avenue, Toronto

    Launching a campaign for the release of Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident unjustly locked in Iranian prisons for over 8 years. 

    Saeed Malekpour is an Iranian-born computer programmer who immigrated to Victoria B.C. and was arrested while on a trip to Iran in 2008. Initially sentenced to death on charges of “spreading corruption on earth,” he is now condemned to life in prison and has already served over eight years, and endured torture and solitary confinement. Malekpour’s indictment was based on confessions obtained under torture and he has been deprived of a fair trial. 

    February 02, 2017

    In an Open Letter released today, Amnesty International is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to raise critical human rights concerns during his first meeting with United States President Trump. No date has yet been confirmed for the first official meeting, which is expected to take place in the very near future.

    “Our message to Prime Minister Trudeau is clear.  It has already become abundantly clear that under President Trump’s leadership the United States has embarked on a deeply troubling course which undermines and violates universal human rights.  That cannot and will not be okay in the relationship between our governments, and would have direct consequences with respect to areas where cooperation between our countries is essential,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English Branch.

    February 01, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ authorization of the construction of 3,000 further illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank today - the fourth such announcement within weeks - highlights their shocking willingness to flout international law, said Amnesty International. 

    In the weeks prior to this the Israeli authorities announced plans to build 3,219 more homes in the occupied West Bank including 719 homes in East Jerusalem. All the announcements have come since the inauguration of US President Donald J. Trump, a staunch ally of Israel’s current government.

    “Since the start of 2017 the Israeli authorities have made clear that they plan to accelerate the construction of illegal settlement homes and seize further Palestinian territory in flagrant violation of international law,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The flurry of recent announcements signals that the Israeli government, emboldened by the Trump administration, feels no need to hide its brazen violations of the rights of the occupied Palestinian population.

    January 31, 2017
    Extrajudicial executions may amount to crimes against humanity Police plant evidence, take under-the-table cash and fabricate reports Paid killers on police payroll

    Acting on instructions from the very top of government, the Philippines police have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    Amnesty International’s investigation, “If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs” details how the police have systematically targeted mostly poor and defenceless people across the country while planting “evidence”, recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports.

    January 30, 2017

    By Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International

    The gloves are off. With today’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” President Donald J. Trump has declared war on Muslim refugees around the world.    

    With the stroke of a pen, the President has – among other actions – banned Syrian refugees from the USA and has also effectively prevented anyone (including refugees) from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the USA. These seven countries have two main things in common: they are predominantly Muslim, and they are the countries from where the majority of people seeking asylum from serious human rights violations like persecution or torture are trying to escape.

    Were it not so disturbing and dangerous, this Executive Order would be pathetic in its absurdity.

    January 30, 2017

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s and the police’s announcements that they are suspending anti-drug operations, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said:

    “Even as the police have vowed to shut their operations down, President Duterte has pledged to continue his so-called ‘war on drugs’. These contradictory statements offer little hope that the wave of extrajudicial executions that has claimed more than a thousand lives a month will end.

    “It is no secret that corruption is rife among the police. As our report, out tomorrow, shows, the people who are tasked with upholding law and order have planted ‘evidence’, robbed victims’ homes and falsified reports. But the ultimate responsibility for the police’s actions lies at the very top of government. The problem is not a few bad policemen but the government’s deadly anti-drug policy.”

    Background

    January 30, 2017

    Following last night’s deadly shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Québec City, Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnesty International Canada-Francophone, said: 

    “Amnesty International strongly condemns this act targeting Muslims, demonstrating a total disregard for life and a religion-based hatred.

    “We send our condolences to the families of the victims and the wider community of this mosque. It is crucial that the police investigation be conducted promptly and justice delivered. The Muslim community in the province of Québec needs to be assured that it has access to security, like all citizens.

    “Hate speech and Islamophobia are unacceptable and nurture violence. Let us show together, especially at the highest political level, that solidarity prevails and that respect for the rights of all people to live in security without discrimination is of the utmost importance to us.”

    Background

    January 23, 2017

    In response to the news today that the Bahraini authorities have postponed the verdict in the case of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Regional office in Beirut said:

    “The Bahraini authorities must stop playing games with Nabeel Rajab’s freedom. He has been arrested and released repeatedly over the past five years and has been banned from leaving the country. By postponing his trial for a sixth time today they are cruelly stringing him along as punishment for his peaceful activism. Their refusal to release him from custody in December despite a court order suggests this is part of a deliberate strategy to harass him.

    “Instead of flouting his rights to freedom of expression and depriving him of his liberty they should end this campaign of harassment, immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all the charges against him.”

    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.

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