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Human Rights

    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.

    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.

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