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    September 16, 2016

    In reaction to the High Court of Swaziland today declaring sections of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) unconstitutional, Amnesty International said.

    “The court ruling is a victory for human rights, especially for freedom of expression and association,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “For far too long, the Swazi authorities have used these oppressive laws to silence opponents of the government.”

    “Today’s landmark judgement, although a positive step forward, is a painful reminder of the injustices that have been meted out by the Swazi authorities through the use of these laws in the past.”

    Background

    Freedom of expression is protected in the Swazi Constitution, as well as in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – international instruments that Swaziland is a party to.

    Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act)

    September 14, 2016

    US President Barack Obama should place himself on the right side of history by pardoning whistleblower Edward Snowden, who faces the possibility of decades in prison for speaking out to defend human rights, said Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch and a host of other organizations and individuals as they launched a global petition today.

    Ahead of an upcoming Oliver Stone film about Snowden’s whistleblowing and exile in Russia in 2013, the campaign is calling for a presidential pardon for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor before President Obama leaves office.

    September 14, 2016

    As Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and attend the United Nations General Assembly, the international community must maintain pressure on Myanmar’s authorities to improve the country’s human rights record, Amnesty International said today.

    Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip to the US comes as the new civilian-led government enters its sixth month in office. In this time, it has taken some steps to address human rights but still faces challenges bequeathed by a half a century of military rule.

    “We have seen encouraging changes as Myanmar eases out from under the shadow of military rule. But there is still a lot more to do to ensure a decisive break with the country’s ugly past of human rights violations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “For almost a quarter of a century, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on human rights in Myanmar. It is important that the same happens this year. The gains made so far have to be consolidated and built upon, not left incomplete or eroded.”

    September 13, 2016

    As the latest session of the Human Rights Council Session opens today Amnesty International is calling on states not to support anything short of an independent, investigation into the conflict in Yemen. Last year states failed to support such a move, instead adopting a watered-down resolution spearheaded by Saudi Arabia supporting the newly established national commission as the mechanism to investigate violations. So far this commission’s working methods suggest it will struggle to either establish truth or facilitate justice.

    September 12, 2016

    Security forces are using arbitrary and excessive force in response to protests in Jammu and Kashmir, violating international standards and worsening the human rights crisis in the state, Amnesty International India said today.

    At least 78 people, including two security force personnel, have been killed in the state since 8 July, following protests and violent clashes after the killing of a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group. Some demonstrators have thrown stones and attacked police stations, government buildings and politicians’ homes. Security force personnel have fired live ammunition, tear gas and pellets from pump action shotguns.

    “Pellet-firing shotguns have injured and blinded peaceful protestors and bystanders,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India. “Children have been hit by pellets from these shotguns while sitting inside their homes.”

    “These weapons are inherently indiscriminate and always carry the risk of causing serious injury to people who are not engaging in violence. There is simply no proper way to use these weapons, and they should be prohibited.”

    September 02, 2016

    With widespread reports of the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s repressive regime is unlikely to change, said Amnesty International.

    “Islam Karimov’s death marks the end of an era in Uzbekistan, but almost certainly not of the pattern of grave human rights abuses. His successor is likely to come from Karimov’s closest circle, where dissenting minds have never been tolerated,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “During his 27-year long rule, rights and freedoms were profoundly disregarded, with any dissent brutally crushed, and torture and arbitrary detentions became integral to the country’s justice system. Hundreds died in the Andizhan massacre alone, and the perpetrators were never held to account. Many thousands have ended up in prisons following unfair trials. Any semblance of justice in the country will require deep political changes and a new, principled approach from Uzbekistan’s international partners, something which has been totally lacking in recent years.”

     

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    August 30, 2016

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario   K1A 0A2

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We write this Open Letter to you as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,[1]  urging that you make a determined effort to raise key human rights cases and recommendations at every opening during your upcoming visit to China. 

    This trip – your first as Prime Minister – comes at a critical time, as China faces serious human rights challenges throughout the country.  There has been a concerted, deepening clampdown on human rights lawyers and activists and intensified measures to curtail freedoms of expression, association and assembly.  These are worrying indications of a deteriorating climate for human rights protection in the country. 

    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?” 

     

    **********

    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.

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