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    August 27, 2016

    The transfer of a former opposition mayor to prison from house arrest at 3am this morning without any notice is a vile maneuver by the Venezuelan authorities to silence any critics amidst a growing political and humanitarian crisis in the country, Amnesty International said.

    “Authorities in Venezuela seem to be willing to stop at nothing in their quest to prevent anyone from criticizing them, particularly as the political and humanitarian situation in the country continues to deteriorate,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Daniel Omar Ceballos Morales, former mayor of the city of San Cristóbal and leader of the opposition party Popular Will, was sentenced to 12 months in prison in 2014 after failing to follow an order to stop opposition protesters from erecting barricades in the city.

    In August 2015 he was put under house arrest for health reasons. He is now awaiting trial on charges including rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime in relation to the violent protests that took place across the country in 2014.

    August 15, 2016
    Lonmin only built three show houses in Marikana since 2006 Mine workers still live in “truly appalling” conditions Company’s excuses expose bad planning, false reports to shareholders Company admits 13,500 mine workers do not have formal accommodation

    British platinum mining giant Lonmin Plc is still failing to deliver adequate housing for its workforce in Marikana, in spite of the resounding wake-up call it received in the wake of the killing of 34 striking mine workers in 2012, Amnesty International revealed today in a new report.

    August 12, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for Russia, the USA and the United Nations to arrange the humanitarian evacuation of a badly-injured ten-year-old girl from the Syrian town of Madaya, which is besieged by Syrian government forces.

    The girl, Ghina Ahmad Wadi, was shot in the leg by a sniper on 2 August at the Abdel Majed checkpoint when she was on her way to buy medicine for her mother. She was shot in her left thigh, causing a complex bone fracture and a severing of a nerve. Her eight-year-old sister who was with her was also injured.

    Madaya is controlled by Syrian government forces in alliance with Hezbollah fighters, and Ghina’s family have appealed to the Syrian authorities to allow her to be evacuated to a hospital in Damascus or in Lebanon - a request which has been denied, including in the past week.

    A doctor working at a field hospital in Madaya has told Amnesty that the girl urgently needs surgery that is not available in Madaya, which has been under a tight government siege since July last year. Instead, Ghina has only been provided with sedatives - including morphine - which ease her extreme pain for only ten to 15 minutes at a time.

    August 08, 2016

    In response to remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova that the International Paralympic Committee’s ban of Russia’s Paralympic team over doping concerns was a “betrayal of [international] human rights standards,” Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Programme Director Europe & Central Asia at Amnesty International said: 

    “The Foreign Ministry spokesperson is right that human rights should never be betrayed. But human rights begin at home, and on this front her government is a top contender for the Gold Medal for Hypocrisy.

    “With a government that bombs Syrian hospitals, locks people up for criticizing the authorities, tortures detainees, silences the LGBT-community through the ‘propaganda’ law, and smears independent organizations as ‘foreign agents’, who is really betraying human rights in Russia?” 

     

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    August 06, 2016

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to today’s release of the Presidential Policy Guidance—a document setting out U.S. standards that appears to apply to some drone and other air strikes overseas— Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:

    “While this policy guidance appears to set an important precedent for protecting civilians and limiting killings, it is impossible to assess whether and how it’s been followed. The Obama Administration has still never provided basic information needed to assess the drone program, including the names and identities of people killed in the strikes.

    “The Obama administration’s disclosures are welcome but they only tell part of the story, and obscure disturbing practices. We still know extremely little about the standards that would govern signature strikes and so-called rescuer strikes, which have involved potentially unlawful killings.

    August 04, 2016

    Open Letter from Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada to Tony Loparco, Director of the Special Investigations Unit and Charles Bordeleau, Chief of Ottawa Police Service, regarding the case of Abdirahman Abdi.

     

    August 2, 2016

    Dear Mr. Loparco and Chief Bordeleau,

    Amnesty International is writing this Open Letter to you regarding the case of Abdirahman Abdi.  Mr. Abdi is a 37 year-old Somali-Canadian man who died on July 24th following an altercation and alleged beating at the hands of two Ottawa Police officers.  It has been widely reported that Mr. Abdi was well known to suffer from serious mental health problems.

    We recognize that the case is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit and the Ottawa Police Service’s Professional Standards Section.  It is vital that those investigations be thorough, transparent and impartial.

    August 01, 2016
    The National Security Council Act that comes into force today empowers the Malaysian authorities to trample over human rights and act with impunity, Amnesty International said today. “With this new law, the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive powers,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. The new law will grant the Malaysian authorities the power to carry out warrantless arrests, search and seize property, and impose curfews at will. One provision, Section 18, allows the Prime Minister to arbitrarily designate any area in the country a “security area,” if he deems it a potential source of “harm.” “There is good reason to fear that the Act will be yet another tool in the hands of the government to crack down on peaceful protests under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict. The special status given to “security areas” could worsen Malaysia’s track record of custodial deaths and police brutality.
    July 29, 2016

    The decision to grant reparation to thousands of victims in the case against former Chadian president Hissène Habré marks a significant moment in their long and determined quest for justice, Amnesty International said today. 

    “Today’s decision is a significant step in enabling the victims of crimes in the case against Hissène Habré to move on with their lives,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International Senior Legal Advisor Africa.  

    “It is also a victory for the victims of human rights violations all over the world as it demonstrates the urgent need for reparation even when decades have passed since the crimes were committed.”

    The Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar today granted the civil party victims of rape and sexual violence in the case 20 million FCFA each (33,880 USD), the civil party victims of arbitrary detention, torture, prisoners of war and survivors in the case 15 million FCFA each (25,410 USD) and the indirect victims 10 million FCFA each (16,935 USD). The EAC rejected the civil parties’ request for collective reparations.

    July 28, 2016

    A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labour, said Amnesty International.

    “Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to findings ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years. Authorities in Venezuela must focus on requesting and  getting much needed humanitarian aid to the millions in need across the country and develop a workable long term plan to tackle the crisis.”

    July 28, 2016

    Following the announcement that charges will be dropped against the three remaining officers to face trial in the death of Freddie Gray, Amnesty International USA called for the strengthening of laws governing lethal force by police in Maryland and across the country.

    “In Maryland and every state in the nation, statutes regarding when law enforcement officers can use lethal force fall woefully short of international standards,” said Rachel Ward, managing director of the research unit of Amnesty International USA. “These standards state, simply, that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when faced with the imminent threat of death or serious injury. As it stands, lethal force laws are so broad that accountability will continue to be elusive.”

    “Until widespread reform of lethal force laws happen, families will not be able to have faith that anyone will be held accountable for their loved ones’ deaths.”

    July 27, 2016

    Forty body bags, representing the number of people killed by the police in May 2016 in Rio de Janeiro were displayed in front of the Local Organizing Committee for the Rio 2016 Olympics by Amnesty International’s activists in a peaceful protest.

    The activists also delivered a petition signed by 120,000 people from more than 15 countries demanding public security policies that respect human rights during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

    July 26, 2016

    Responding to the news on 26 July 2016 that three leading human rights defenders in Thailand -- including a current and former chair of Amnesty International Thailand --  have been formally charged with “computer crimes” and “criminal defamation” for publishing a report on torture committed by the country’s security forces, Amnesty International said:

    “The Thai authorities must immediately drop all charges against Somchai Homla-or, Anchana Heemmina, and Porpen Khongkaconkiet. It is not a crime to investigate human rights violations. The true injustice is that these three brave human rights activists are being punished for reporting on torture, while the soldiers who perpetrated these horrendous acts are being shielded from accountability,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations

    613-744-7667, ext 236

    July 21, 2016

    President Erdogan’s announcement of the imposition of a state of emergency must not pave the way for a roll-back in human rights or be used as a pretext to further clamp down on freedom of expression and protections against arbitrary detention and torture, said Amnesty International today.

    Following a meeting of the National Security Council and the Turkish cabinet late Wednesday night, President Erdogan announced that the government will impose a state of emergency for at least three months.

    “In the wake of the violence surrounding the attempted coup, taking measures prioritising public security is understandable. But emergency measures must respect Turkey’s obligations under international law, should not discard hard won freedoms and human rights safeguards, and must not become permanent,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    July 20, 2016

    As the sweeping crackdown in Turkey following a failed coup continues, Amnesty International fears that purges are being extended to censor media houses and journalists, including those critical of government policy.

    “We are witnessing a crackdown of exceptional proportions in Turkey at the moment. While it is understandable, and legitimate, that the government wishes to investigate and punish those responsible for this bloody coup attempt, they must abide by the rule of law and respect freedom of expression,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    “Turkey’s people are still reeling from the shocking events of the weekend and it is vital that press freedom and the unhindered circulation of information are protected, rather than stiffled.”

    July 18, 2016

    Human rights in Turkey are in peril following a bloody coup attempt on Friday 15 July, which resulted in the deaths of at least 208 people and almost 8,000 arrests, Amnesty International said today. Several government officials have suggested reinstating the death penalty as punishment for those found responsible for the failed coup, and the organization is now investigating reports that detainees in Ankara and Istanbul have been subjected to a series of abuses, including ill-treatment in custody and being denied access to lawyers.

    “The sheer number of arrests and suspensions since Friday is alarming and we are monitoring the situation very closely. The coup attempt unleashed appalling violence and those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses must be brought to justice, but cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

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