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Human Rights

    June 27, 2016

    Human rights must be a top priority during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, said Amnesty International in an Open Letter to United States President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The letter was shared with the leaders in advance of the June 29th Summit, providing recommendations on the protection of human rights related to migrants and refugees, trade and investment, Indigenous peoples,  women and girls, national and public security, climate change, and human rights defenders. 

    June 23, 2016

    The agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, signed today in Cuba by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is an historic step in efforts towards signing a peace deal between the two sides, Amnesty International said today.

    However, the agreement will only come fully into force after a peace deal is signed, most likely in the next few months. Nevertheless, today’s announcement brings ever closer the prospect of an end to a 50-year-old conflict marked by crimes under international law and serious human rights violations and abuses and by the failure to bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility in such crimes.

    The agreement sets out the mechanisms by which the FARC will demobilize and disarm- to be completed within 180 days after the signing of a peace agreement – as well as the steps the authorities will take to guarantee the security of FARC combatants during their demobilization, including measures to combat paramilitary groups (referred to as criminal gangs by the government), which continue to operate despite their supposed demobilization a decade ago.

    June 10, 2016

    The Venezuelan authorities’ stubborn denial over the country’s current humanitarian crisis, coupled with their refusal to ask for international aid, are putting the lives and rights of millions of people at serious risk, Amnesty International said as it concluded a visit to the country.

    An Amnesty International delegation spoke to public officials, NGOs, human rights defenders, lawyers and survivors of human rights violations in Caracas, Guarenas and the state of Táchira, on the border with Colombia. People spoke of the chronic lack of essential food staples and medicines as the country faces one of the worst economic crises in decades.

    “Stubborn politics are seriously affecting millions of lives. The lethal combination of severe food and medicine shortages coupled with sky-high crime rates, persistent human rights violations and ill-conceived policies that focus on trying to keep people quiet instead of responding to their desperate calls for help are a recipe for an epic catastrophe,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 07, 2016

    A surge in killings of people with albinism, whose body parts are used in ritual practices, has exposed a systematic failure of policing in Malawi and left this vulnerable group living in fear, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    The report, “We are not animals to be hunted or sold”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi”, exposes how the wave of violent attacks against people with albinism have increased sharply over the last two years, with four people, including a baby, murdered in April 2016 alone.

    “The unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families who are living in a state of constant fear for their lives,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    May 05, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes the Swaziland Government’s preparedness to amend the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 (STA) as it had committed to do in March 2012 at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    Amnesty International has consistently called for the STA to be repealed or immediately amended, because it is an inherently flawed piece of legislation which is inconsistent with Swaziland’s obligations under international and regional human rights law as well as the Swaziland Constitution.

    In 2009, Amnesty International in association with the International Bar Association found several provisions of the STA to be incompatible with Swaziland’s human rights obligations. 

    While states have a duty to protect all those under its jurisdiction, including by taking measures to prevent and protect against attacks on civilians, there is also an absolute necessity to ensure that all anti-terrorism measures are implemented in accordance with international human rights law.  

    May 05, 2016

    Responding to Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Maj-Gen Jim Muhwezi’s ban on live broadcast media coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, Amnesty International issued the following quote.

    “The Ugandan government’s decision to ban live broadcast coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, although manifestly unlawful, fits the now depressingly familiar pattern of restricting freedom of expression in a bid to muzzle opposition voices,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The ban announced by Minister Muhwezi aims to restrict completely lawful activities and this is unacceptable. It has no basis in Ugandan law, and is in blatant violation of the myriad regional and international human rights standards to which Uganda is bound.”

    For further information contact 

    Aden Seaton or Sarah French 613-744-7667 ext 263

    December 10, 2015
     
        READ REPORT

    The change in government following the October 2015 federal election must now become the catalyst for a new approach and strengthened commitment to improving Canada’s domestic and international human rights record, Amnesty International said with the release of its 2016 Human Rights Agenda for Canada: Defending Rights for All today, International Human Rights Day.

    December 08, 2015

    The effort to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, the harrowing process of forced deportation to Somalia, the struggle for fresh water in Gaza and the battle against addition to sugar in Central America are all explored in four excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s twenty first annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.  

    In the national print category the winner this year is Stephanie Nolen for her feature article “If I send him, he may die. But if I keep him here, he will die.” about the attempt to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, published in The Globe and Mail on 29 August 2015. 

    October 02, 2015

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper;
    Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair;
    Justin Trudeau;
    Elizabeth May; and
    Gilles Duceppe

    Dear Prime Minister Harper, Mr. Mulclair, Mr. Trudeau, Ms. May, and Mr. Duceppe:

    We are writing to you regarding Canada’s human rights record in light of the July 2015 release of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations on the country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was the first time the Committee has examined Canada’s record in a decade. As in other reviews of Canada by UN bodies, including the Human Rights Council, these Concluding Observations raise numerous serious concerns about critical violations of human rights in this country.

    July 02, 2015

    A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.

    Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.

    "The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    June 18, 2015

    •        Amnesty International is partnering with edX, a global leader in online education founded by Harvard University and MIT, to deliver a new series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
    •        The free online courses will be designed by human rights and education experts from across Amnesty International
    •        They will provide a high quality, cutting-edge learning experience, capitalizing on the latest technology revolution in education, MOOCs
    •        This will be the first MOOC ever provided by Amnesty International

    Amnesty International and edX are partnering together to offer a brand new series of Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – the first of which will be made available to learners later this year, the organizations announced today.

    A MOOC is a massive open online course:

    It is massive in that it is not limited by the four walls of a school building; hundreds of thousands of people can take a MOOC at one time.

    January 09, 2015

    Sri Lanka’s new government must urgently address a legacy of pressing human rights issues left by the previous administration, Amnesty International said.

    Outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa today conceded defeat to the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who won the presidential poll with 51.3 per cent of the vote according to the official results.

    “Although the campaign was marked by intimidation and attacks primarily against opposition campaigners, it was heartening to see the election day passed largely without violence. This is to the credit of the thousands of courageous election observers who ensured that all Sri Lankans were able to enjoy their right to political participation without fear,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “The new government now has an opportunity to usher in a new era of genuine respect for human rights – it is one that must not be missed.”

    In a human rights agenda aimed at the presidential candidates, Amnesty International highlighted seven key issues the new administration must make a priority.

    September 05, 2014

    A landmark order by India’s Supreme Court directing the release of all undertrial prisoners who have spent more than half of the maximum punishment for the crime they are charged with in pre-trial detention should lead to long-term changes to the criminal justice system, Amnesty International India said today  

    “The Supreme Court’s order is inspiring and welcome,” said Divya Iyer, Research Manager at Amnesty International India. “Two out of three prisoners in India are undertrials. Excessive pre-trial detention violates detainees’ right to a fair and speedy trial, and leads to overcrowding in jails.”

    “Releasing eligible undertrials is however only the first step. Authorities need to also set upvarious mechanisms to prevent excessive pre-trial detention in the future. These include proper prison record management, informing undertrials about their rights, better co-ordination to ensure that undertrials attend their court hearings, and improved legal aid.”

    May 22, 2014

    Legislation restricting internationally recognized human rights is still in place in Zimbabwe, one year after the new Constitution was signed into law promising improved civil liberties for all, Amnesty International said today.

    “A year ago the people of Zimbabwe were celebrating a new Constitution which promised a much improved Declaration of Rights. Unfortunately, the government has since failed to amend or repeal all the laws rendered unconstitutional and continues to use these laws to repress people exercising their rights in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director of Southern Africa.

    Public order, security and criminal laws are being used to deny people their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, despite guarantees under the new Constitution.

    Amnesty International has documented numerous cases over the last year where meetings or activities have been barred and human rights defenders have been arrested and charged.

    In April alone nearly a dozen demonstrators and community activists were arrested for organizing and taking part in peaceful protests in Masvingo.

    March 19, 2014

    Mexico must put into action the promises it makes to the United Nations Human Rights Council tomorrow if it is to address the dire human rights situation in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Effective long-lasting measures have to be taken to address ongoing patterns of disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions as well as routine attacks on men and women defending human rights, journalists and migrants. Mexico must not fail again to uphold its commitments to the international community,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    Tomorrow Mexico will announce to Human Rights Council members which of their 176 recommendations it will adopt. In 2009, during its last appearance before this human rights body, Mexico said it would implement the majority of recommendations. However, it then failed to take action in many areas to prevent the human rights crisis, which continues to this day.

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