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Human Rights

    September 07, 2017

    The decision to charge Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro using a controversial Electronic Crimes Law marks a dramatic escalation in the Palestinian authorities’ onslaught against freedom of expression, said Amnesty International today.

    Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, a peaceful group that documents violations and organizes protests against Israeli policies in Hebron, was arrested on 4 September for posting comments on Facebook critical of the Palestinian authorities. In a closed hearing today the Hebron district court extended his detention for four days and charged him with disturbing “public order” under the recently adopted Electronic Crimes Law, as well as “causing strife” and “insulting the higher authorities” under the 1960 Jordanian Penal code which is still enforced in the West Bank.

    August 30, 2017
    Nathan VanderKlippe

    By Nathan VanderKlippe

    Amnesty note: On August 23 Nathan VanderKlippe called Amnesty in Toronto to contact a member of the Uighur Society in Canada. A few minutes later he was arrested.

    Late in the evening of Aug. 23, I drove a rented car to Elishku township in Yarkand County. Within 15 minutes of arrival, police began to arrive. Local villagers, I believe, had reported my presence. I was escorted to a local government office, where I was questioned by the local party secretary, police chief, officials from the propaganda department and local waiban, as well as agents from the Ministry of State Security. When police demanded to look through my photographs, I called my contact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who after a lengthy phone call said the local officials would only heed his intervention if he sent a formal document. As it was midnight by this time, this was not a feasible option. My MFA contact, however, said the local officials had agreed to only look at and not delete photographs. I showed them my pictures. They did not delete any, largely because there were none to delete.

    August 14, 2017
      The Kenyan authorities must investigate reports that police shot dead demonstrators protesting against the outcome of the presidential election last night, said Amnesty International today as protesters started gathering again in opposition strongholds. As celebrations began in pro-government areas after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the presidential election, supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga poured onto the streets in parts of Nairobi and Kisumu to protest the outcome.   “The Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) must immediately launch an independent and effective investigation into reported killings and where there is credible evidence of crimes, those responsible must be brought to justice,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.   “Everyone has a right to peaceful protest and they must not be hurt, injured or killed for exercising that right.”  
    July 31, 2017
      Reacting to the murder of Chris Msando, head of information technology at Kenya’s independent election monitoring body, Amnesty International’s Kenya researcher, Abdullahi Halakhe said:   “This gruesome murder, just a week before hotly contested elections, should sound alarm bells for the Kenyan government and highlight the need for them to up their game in terms of ensuring the safety of key officials at this tense time.   “Next week’s vote will be extremely close and there is a very real danger that the situation will erupt if the authorities do not ensure that the Kenyan people are able to cast their votes free from intimidation, threats and violence.   “Chris Msando’s death must be urgently investigated and those found responsible brought to justice.”    
    July 31, 2017
      ·         Amnesty International launches new campaign to defend human rights in Brazil ·         Proposed changes would reduce legal protections for children, women, LGBTI individuals and Indigenous Peoples ·         ‘Human Rights Are Not For Sale’ campaign launches with public stunt outside National Congress on 31 July   Amnesty International today launches a new campaign to fight back against a raft of changes currently being discussed by Congress which could reduce legal protections for marginalized groups, impose a total ban on abortion, put an end to sex education, and ease gun licensing laws.   “Human rights are under critical attack in Brazil and in response Amnesty International is stepping up to the front line,” said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International Brazil’s Executive Director.  
    July 24, 2017
      The Philippine government must ensure that human rights are protected during its campaign against militants in Mindanao, as martial law remains in place, Amnesty International said today.   President Rodrigo Duterte today extended martial law in the southern island of Mindanao first imposed on 23 May 2016, for a further six months, to 31 December 2017. Since 23 May, Philippines armed forces have battled against the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State, in Marawi City, the capital of Lanao Del Sur province in northern Mindanao. The extension followed a vote by lawmakers at a special joint session in Congress.   “Ongoing martial law in Mindanao must not mean that human rights take a back seat at a time when people need crucial protections more than ever. The Philippines armed forces must show the utmost restraint to ensure that civilians are safeguarded during operations in Marawi” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  
    July 19, 2017
      Following the news that the European Union has threatened to trigger Article 7 against Poland if currently tabled judicial reforms are passed into law, Iverna McGowan Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office said:   “Triggering Article 7 would be an unprecedented move, and the strong message sent by the EU today that it is close to making that step is a welcome demonstration of the seriousness with which it’s taking the assault on judicial independence in Poland.   “The Law and Justice Party’s ongoing efforts to dismantle Poland’s system of checks and balances is at a critical phase. The prosecution service and the Constitutional Tribunal of the country’s justice system is already under the political control of the government. Successful passage of these current reforms would amount to a wholesale political takeover of the judiciary. The consequences of this for the future integrity of Polish justice are far reaching and deeply concerning.’’  
    July 07, 2017
    Two decades of attacks on the political opposition, independent media and human rights defenders have created a climate of fear in Rwanda ahead of next month’s election, Amnesty International warned in a new report today. The organization is urging the government to prevent harassment of opposition candidates and their supporters ahead of the August poll, but also to initiate far-reaching reforms that will open up political space before the 2024 elections, allowing genuine debate and diverse opinions to be freely expressed. “Since the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front took power 23 years ago, Rwandans have faced huge, and often deadly, obstacles to participating in public life and voicing criticism of government policy. The climate in which the upcoming elections take place is the culmination of years of repression,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
    June 15, 2017

    Ahead of the appeal against a 10-year sentence handed down to a Syrian man for committing an “act of terror” during clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border, an Amnesty International team is in court and available for interviews.

    The man, a permanent resident of Cyprus who can only be identified as Ahmed H., was convicted in November. Ahmed admitted to throwing three objects at the Hungarian police during the clashes.

    “The conviction of Ahmed H was a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions against a man who was helping his family flee Syria,” said Todor Gardos, Amnesty International’s Hungary researcher.

    “This absurd verdict reflects the febrile atmosphere in Hungary where anti-terror powers have been ramped up amid a crackdown on the rights of migrants. Ahmed’s actions cannot credibly constitute an act of terrorism and his conviction should bequashed.”

    Follow Amnesty International’s researchers@todorgardos and @demeteraaronfor updates.

    June 12, 2017

    Following the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’sruling against President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, released the following statement:

    “It’s always been crystal clear that this policy is discriminatory and cruel at its core. Rather than keeping anyone safe, this ban demonizes millions of innocent people and creates anxiety and instability for people who want to visit a relative, work, study, return to the country they call home, or just travel without fear. The Trump Administration must drop all defenses of this bigoted ban. If they won’t drop their appeals, Congress must step in and nullify this order once and for all.”



     

    June 12, 2017

    A crackdown on peaceful protests across Russia in which hundreds of people were arrested and numerous others beaten by police demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for fundamental human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    “The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, though you wouldn’t know it from the alarming scenes today. After trying to intimidate protesters into abstaining from these demonstrations with blackmail and harassment, the authorities in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere have punished hundreds of those who turned up with beatings and arrests,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities’ stranglehold on freedom of expression grows tighter by the day. Peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, not a privilege to be bestowed or refused on a whim. We are calling for all peaceful protesters swept up in these arrests to be immediately freed, and the right to hold peaceful rallies fully and genuinely respected.”

    May 30, 2017
    Activists, leaders and experts from across Canada will discuss human rights, diversity and reconciliation at a free, all-day event on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017. Tareq Hadad, Syrian refugee and founder of Peace by Chocolate to deliver Keynote address

    The University of Calgary and Amnesty International are pleased to host a national human rights conference in Calgary on June 3rd, 2017. Prominent speakers, leaders and activists will address the conference theme of “Living Together: Understanding Human Rights and Diversity and Working Towards Reconciliation.” Admission is free and open to the public.

    May 25, 2017

    Iran has demonstrated its utter disregard for children’s rights by executing a man arrested for a crime committed while he was 16 years old in a brazen violation of international human rights law, said Amnesty International.

    The man, who has been identified in state media only by the name “Asqar”, was sentenced to death by public hanging nearly 30 years ago. He was executed at Karaj’s Central Prison near Tehran on 23 May 2017.

    “With this execution, the Iranian authorities’ repeated claims to the UN and EU that they are moving away from the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders ring horrifically hollow. It is absolutely appalling that two decades after it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to display such a chilling disregard for children’s rights,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    May 24, 2017

    The US Army failed to keep tabs on more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait according to a now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) audit, obtained by Amnesty International following Freedom of Information requests.

    The government audit, from September 2016, reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment pouring into Kuwait and Iraq to provision the Iraqi Army.

    “This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous - system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher.

    “It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq, including the armed group calling itself the Islamic State.”

    May 23, 2017

    Responding to the terror attack at the Manchester Arena last night, Kerry Moscogiuri, Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International UK said:

    “Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms this cowardly act that has taken the lives of so many innocent people.

    “The thoughts of everyone at Amnesty are with all those affected by this horrific attack on children, young people and parents enjoying a night out at a concert.

    “The response to this kind of attack must always be more love, just like we've seen from the people of Manchester coming together to offer lifts, tea and places to stay to concert-goers and those looking for their loved ones.

    “Politicians and the media must ensure their language and actions do not stoke hatred and division, and use all their influence to stress that we have more in common than that which divides us.”

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