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Human Rights

    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.

    December 12, 2016

    President Jacob Zuma’s long-overdue announcement that the government is ready to pay compensation to the victims of the 2012 Marikana tragedy is an important development towards achieving justice for the victims and their families, Amnesty International said today.

    The President also announced that some members of the South African Police Service are facing criminal charges for their role in the killings of 44 people during the wage dispute between Lonmin mine and its striking employees in August 2012.  

    “While the compensation for the loss of life and livelihoods for the tragic events of that fateful week in August 2012 is a welcome step forward, four years was much too long for the survivors and their families to wait,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The government must act swiftly to finalize the payment and ensure effective remedies and justice for the 44 lives lost.”

    December 09, 2016

    Press Conference: Amnesty International issues 2016 Human Rights “Report Card” for Trudeau government

    On December 13, Amnesty International Canada will issue a human rights “report card” for the Trudeau government’s first full calendar year in power at a press conference in Ottawa.

    The end-of-year assessment measures Canada’s progress against the organization’s Human Rights Agenda for Canada, which Amnesty presented to the government in December 2015 in order to help guide its efforts toward the protection of human rights domestically and abroad.

    In its assessment, Amnesty outlines several areas where Canada has achieved significant human rights successes in 2016. It also addresses several areas of notable concern where the Trudeau government has failed to make adequate progress on human rights, or has made decisions which have taken Canada in the wrong direction with troubling human rights implications.  

    Speaking at the press conference will be:

    December 01, 2016

    Saudi Arabian human rights defender, Issa al-Hamid, who received a nine year prison term for his work promoting human rights, had his sentence increased today to 11 years in prison, followed by a travel ban of equal duration as well as a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (around 27,000 US Dollars) following an appeal.

    Responding to today’s court ruling by the counter-terror court in Riyadh, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office said:

    “Today’s ruling by the Saudi Arabian counter-terror court is yet another demonstration of the authorities’ continuous ruthless and relentless crackdown on human rights defenders. The appeal presented an important opportunity to correct a deeply flawed ruling. Instead, the authorities chose to proceed with their unabated persecution of human rights defenders by increasing an already unfounded sentence.

    November 30, 2016

    In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director who attended the court hearing said: 

    “This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of anti-terror laws and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”

    “A father, who was trying to help his elderly Syrian parents reach safety now faces 10 years in prison. Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling. Ahmed H’s terrorism verdict should be quashed on appeal."

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    November 25, 2016

    Ahead of the season finale of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director of Campaigns, Samah Hadid, said:

    “This weekend, as sports fans around the world turn their eyes to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which is hosting the season finale of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the country’s appalling human rights record continues to escape scrutiny.

    “Do spectators know that behind the glamorous façade, people are being arrested and tortured for voicing criticism of the government? Or that enforced disappearances go unchecked, with families often going months without knowledge of their loved ones’ whereabouts? Or that over 60 political prisoners remain behind bars following unfair trials?

    “The show of fast cars and celebrities is nothing more than a distraction from an ongoing human rights crisis. The UAE authorities should also be devoting their attention to releasing prisoners of conscience and by repealing harsh laws that criminalize peaceful freedom of expression.

    November 24, 2016
    By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    That which unites us is always greater than that which divides us. Yet, around the world, the forces of division seem to be gathering momentum. Walls rising up along borders, hatred and fear welling up within and between populations, repressive laws assailing basic freedoms.

    The US election campaign, the latest development in this deeply troubling trend, caused global shockwaves. After campaigning with a constant refrain of misogyny and xenophobia, Donald J. Trump will be the next US President. Since the election, the world has been coming to terms with this fact, though its implications have yet to be fathomed fully.

    For human rights activists in particular, who already find themselves embattled and “undesirable” in many countries, it raises the stakes immensely that the President-elect of one of the world’s most powerful nations put forward a political platform that championed hate, threatening to disavow many basic human rights protections.

    November 18, 2016

    The release of a prominent Venezuelan opposition leader unfairly imprisoned since 2014 as punishment for his human rights work must mark a profound shift in the government’s approach to dissent and freedom of speech, said Amnesty International.

    Rosmit Mantilla, Member of Parliament, human rights activist and prisoner of conscience was released after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention at the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service facilities in Caracas.

    “Rosmit’s long awaited release is great news for human rights in Venezuela. He should have never been made to spend a second behind bars. The Venezuelan authorities must now build on this positive step and release all imprisoned activists and political leaders whose only ‘crime’ was to disagree with the government,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Rosmit Mantilla is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular.

    November 10, 2016

    In response to the appointment of China's Vice Minister of Public Security, Meng Hongwei, to head global police agency Interpol, Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International commented:

    "The appointment of Meng Hongwei is alarming given China's long-standing practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad. It seems at odds with Interpol's mandate to work in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    "There now needs to be close scrutiny of the kind of notices that Interpol issues at the request of the Chinese government."

     

    November 09, 2016

    WASHINGTON – In response to the election of Donald Trump to the United States presidency, Amnesty International released the following statements. 

    Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: “President-elect Trump has provoked grave consternation at many points throughout his election campaign, and raised serious concerns about the strength of commitment we can expect to see from the United States towards human rights in the future. He must now put this behind him and both reaffirm and abide by the United States’ obligations on human rights, at home and abroad.”

    Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said: “In the lead up to this week’s election, the United States has witnessed disturbing and, at times, poisonous rhetoric from President-elect Trump and others. This rhetoric cannot and must not become government policy. The xenophobic, sexist and other hateful remarks made by Trump have no place in government. 

    November 07, 2016

    The Chinese government must immediately repeal a new cyber-security law that gives the authorities carte blanche to curb the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy, said Amnesty International.

    On Monday, China’s legislature passed the law which defines “cyber-security” in broad and vague terms, and requires internet companies to be complicit in censorship and share personal information of users with the authorities with virtually no safeguards.

    “The new cyber-security law tightens the authorities’ repressive grip on the internet. It goes further than ever before in codifying abusive practices, with a near total disregard for the rights to freedom of expression and privacy,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “This dangerous law commandeers internet companies to be de-facto agents of the state, by requiring them to censor and provide personal data to the authorities at a whim.”

    November 07, 2016

    In response to today’s announcement by the United Nations that it will investigate last week’s US-led airstrikes in Kunduz province, in which more than 30 civilians were killed, Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director said:

    “The horrific events in Kunduz last week are the latest in a growing list of incidents which have resulted in Afghan civilians being killed or injured in attacks that appear to have violated international humanitarian law

    “We hope that this UN investigation into the circumstances surrounding the bombing represents a step towards truth and justice for the victims and their families.

    “If the investigation ultimately does show that the attack violated international humanitarian law, it is critical that US/NATO forces are held accountable. If there is evidence of war crimes, those responsible must be prosecuted in fair trials.”

    Background:

    October 26, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed to Giyas Ibrahimov, a 22-year-old youth activist detained after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shocking assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Giyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute travesty of justice. He was arrested simply for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The authorities now want him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on these fabricated charges,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It is deeply disturbing to see the lengths to which Azerbaijani authorities will go to silence their critics. We are calling on them to quash this sentence based on trumped-up charges and immediately release Giyas Ibrahimov, and to carry out an independent investigation into the torture and other ill-treatment he has been subjected to.”

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