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Human Rights

    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.

    February 20, 2014

    Representatives from Amnesty International’s Secretariat this week made their first visit to Viet Nam in decades.

    A four-person delegation spent three days in Viet Nam’s capital Hanoi, building on an individual visit for the organization last year by Amnesty International USA’s Deputy Executive Director.

    They met with a range of stakeholders, including senior government and Communist Party officials, National Assembly members, experts from research institutes, representatives of non-governmental organizations and foreign diplomats.

    “We are pleased that the Vietnamese authorities have allowed representatives from the International Secretariat of Amnesty International to enter the country for the first time in decades. We had frank and open discussions on a number of human rights concerns,” said Isabelle Arradon, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Program, who led the delegation.

    “This is a positive step, and we look forward to further constructive engagement with the Viet Nam government.”

    February 10, 2014

    Hundreds of thousands of people around the world came together to call for justice in Amnesty International’s most successful ever letter-writing campaign, the organization said today.

    In December 2013, more than 2.3 million letters, emails, SMS messages, faxes and tweets were sent in the “Write for Rights” campaign, beating last year’s record of 1.9 million actions.

    Messages pressuring authorities led to the release of two prisoners of conscience: the Cambodian housing rights activist Yorm Bopha and the Russian peaceful protester Vladimir Akimenkov. Click here to learn more about their release and other good news stories.

    “It shows that when ordinary people stand together and send a clear message demanding governments fulfil their duty to protect and uphold people’s human rights we can achieve fantastic results,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “It was a truly global moment as hundreds of thousands of our members and supporters came together with one voice to take action against oppression and injustice.”

    November 08, 2013

    Expert analysis of new satellite imagery Amnesty International has obtained from the Central African Republic (CAR) reveals the shocking aftermath of recent human rights abuses amid spiralling violence by armed groups and security forces.  

    The images – some taken since the beginning of November – include evidence of 485 homes being torched in Bouca as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) near the massing near the town of Bossangoa as people flee the ongoing violence.
     
    “These new images offer a glimpse of physical scarring to homes and civic life visible from space, but the true scale of the human impact of the crisis cannot be captured by satellite,” said Aster van Kregten, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The national authorities and international community must act, as a matter of utmost urgency, to rein in the armed groups responsible for the widespread human rights abuses – which may amount to crimes against humanity – that have seized Central African Republic.”

    September 19, 2013

    In presenting a deeply disappointing report today at the UN Human Rights Council, outlining Canada’s response to a review of the country’s human rights record carried out in April 2013, the Canadian government has squandered a valuable opportunity to move forward in addressing important national human rights concerns and to demonstrate human rights leadership on the world stage.

    Canada was reviewed under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process on April 26 and 30.  Other countries, including many of Canada’s closest allies, highlighted a wide range of concerns and made recommendations to Canada regarding steps to improve human rights protection in the country.

    June 15, 2013

    The decision to grant Judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora conditional release is a positive step, but clearly insufficient, Amnesty International said today.

    "More than three years after being detained, no reliable evidence has been presented against Judge Afiuni. Once more, we demand that the charges against her be dropped," said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Program Director.

    "The preventive measures attached to her release are worrying, since they constitute a serious limitation on her freedom of expression and movement.”

    Yesterday, the 17th Caracas tribunal judge, Marilda Ríos, granted Afiuni conditional freedom. She will have to appear in court every 15 days and she is not allowed to travel abroad, to give statements to national and international media, or write on social networks. The trial against her continues.

    Amnesty International has repeatedly stated that the detention of judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora is a case of unwarranted political interference by the executive branch.

    June 05, 2013

    On 1 June, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) received the latest draft of the country’s Constitution and is expected to vote on it soon.

    Amnesty International has reviewed the latest version amended following discussions among political parties and found that – while there are some improvements over the drafts circulated in August and December 2012 and April 2013 – the text still undermines tenets of international human rights law. It includes restrictions of some basic rights such as the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and to freedom of movement, as well as providing insufficient guarantees for the independence of the judiciary and to protect against torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

    If the entire draft Constitution is not approved by two thirds of the NCA, it will eventually be put to a national referendum.

    Amnesty International has published an analysis of the latest draft and has experts available for comment.

    May 10, 2013

    World leaders must reject an aid-based model of development and instead pursue an approach that puts human rights and justice at its core, 18 non-governmental organizations urged ahead of a High-Level Panel report to the UN on the future of sustainable development.

    The call from Amnesty International, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and 15 other organizations worldwide comes as a high-level panel of experts reviews the final draft of a report it will submit to the UN Secretary General at the end of May, laying the groundwork for action once the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.

    Any new model must ensure that people are empowered and enabled to hold their governments and other entities to account for their conduct when human rights are ignored or abused, the organizations said.

    April 24, 2013

    The Pakistani authorities must investigate the wave of attacks and threats on political candidates and election workers, Amnesty International said in an open letter released before the country goes to the polls for general elections on 11 May.

    The organization also called on all political parties, and candidates to commit to specific measures for improving the country’s human rights situation during their election campaigns.

    “This has been a particularly deadly election period marked by an alarming surge in attacks and intimidation of political activists and election officials,” Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher, said.

    Campaigning ahead of Pakistan’s upcoming general elections has been marred by human rights abuses. At least 37 people have been killed and 183 injured in attacks on election officials and political party representatives and supporters countrywide.

    March 25, 2013

    Civilians in the Central African Republic, including members of President Bozizé’s government still in the country, must be protected, Amnesty International said after rebels seized the capital, Bangui. 

    Seleka, a loose coalition of five rebel groups, stormed the presidential palace, claiming Bozizé had failed to honour a power-sharing peace agreement in January. Bozizé has since fled the country.

    The latest phase of the rebellion began on Thursday and escalated over the weekend, when 13 South African soldiers were shot dead trying to protect the capital.

    Amid reports of looting by armed gangs, Amnesty International called for the Seleka coalition to ensure the protection and respect of human rights in the country.

    “We are extremely concerned by the insecurity in the Central African Republic right now,” said Paule Rigaud, Africa program Deputy Director, “and we fear that human rights abuses are being committed in Bangui. The Seleka leadership must make it clear to its forces that human rights violations will not be tolerated and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.”

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