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    September 28, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities must drop all charges against Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and human rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and at least 23 other defendants, who could face up to four years in prison simply for criticizing the country’s flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.

    A Cairo criminal court is due to hand down its verdict in the case against a total of 25 defendants, on Saturday 30 September. At least 24 of the defendants including Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egyptian politician Amr Hamzawy, and former Member of Parliament Essam Sultan, have been charged with defamation for their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian judiciary as biased and a puppet in the hands of the state.

    “This trial is an attempt to silence criticism of a judiciary that has itself become a source of human rights violations. ‘Insulting’ public institutions or officials is not a criminal offence under international law, and no one should stand trial - let alone face imprisonment - for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    September 27, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Ilmi Umerov, a prominent critic of the Russian occupation and leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is the latest encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms on the peninsula, and must be immediately quashed, said Amnesty International. Ilmi Umerov was sentenced by a de facto court in Crimea this morning to two years in a penal colony.

    Last week, the same court handed Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena a two and a half year suspended prison sentence. Both men stood accused of threatening territorial integrity of the Russian Federation on account of their public opposition to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.

    “The sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, who is 60 and has Parkinson’s disease, marks yet another stage in the de facto government’s lengthy persecution of him. His imprisonment follows a series of politically-motivated trials, arbitrary arrests and intimidation against critics of Russian authorities in Crimea. It is a clear violation of freedom of expression,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    September 27, 2017

    Victims of Stadium Crimes Awaiting Trial



    (Conakry, September 27, 2017) – Guinea should move ahead to deliver justice, truth, and reparation for the grave crimes committed on September 28, 2009, at a Conakry stadium, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the September 28 Massacre said today in advance of the massacre’s eighth anniversary. On that day, security forces massacred more than 150 peaceful protesters, and more than 100 women were raped. Hundreds of injuries and widespread looting were also documented.



    An investigation into the crimes by a panel of Guinean investigating judges, opened in February 2010, has yet to be completed – eight years after the crimes were committed.



    “The judges investigating the September 28, 2009 massacre have made impressive progress,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “But the investigation needs to be completed so that those responsible for the stadium massacre can be tried without further delay.”



    September 27, 2017

    The Ugandan authorities must stop threatening to close media outlets simply for doing their job, said Amnesty International today after the country’s media regulator vowed to close down media houses for broadcasting live.

    The threats come the day after a brawl between MPs in Uganda’s parliament was broadcast live by media outlets in the country.

    “It is unacceptable that Uganda’s media regulator is threatening to close down media houses simply for doing their job and broadcasting live news events. Ugandans have a right to know what their elected representatives are doing, a right the authorities must facilitate rather than hinder,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These threats, harassment and intimidation are an attempt to gag the media, and have no place in any society that respects human rights. The media must be left alone to independently inform and educate the public, including on the ongoing debates about the proposed constitutional amendment.”

    September 26, 2017

    (Kinshasa, September 26, 2017) – Democratic Republic of Congo authorities should immediately and unconditionally release nine Congolese human rights and pro-democracy activists wrongfully detained for their participation in peaceful activities, 45 Congolese and international human rights organizations said today. Four activists were arrested on July 14 and 15, 2017 in Mbuji-Mayi and five others on July 31 in Lubumbashi.



    “The Congolese authorities have thrown activists in jail for joining peaceful protests calling for elections and for Congo’s constitution to be respected,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should release them immediately and ensure that all Congolese have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their political views.”



    September 25, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a revision of President Trump’s travel ban to now include restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, Naureen Shah, senior campaigns director for Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:

    “Since this ban was implemented 10 months ago, we’ve seen families torn apart and whole nations of people demonized for the crimes of a few. The order was a catastrophe not just for those seeking safety but for those who simply want to travel, work, or study in the United States. Today’s action neither relieves this tension nor keeps anyone safe.

    “Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet another version of government-sanctioned discrimination. It is senseless and cruel to ban whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence that the U.S. government wishes to keep out. This must not be normalized.”

    September 25, 2017

    Research released by Amnesty International today reveals how a shell company in the heart of London’s West End acted as an intermediary in huge prospective arms deals to war-torn South Sudan and other countries, thanks to regulatory gaps which are making the UK a hotspot for companies involved in illicit arms transfers.

    Commercial documents name S-Profit Ltd, a tiny UK-registered company, as the ‘supplier’ in a 2014 deal to provide at least US$46m worth of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to the South Sudanese government. The report, From London to Juba: a UK-registered company’s role in one of the largest arms deals to South Sudan, also reveals that the UK government has been aware of similar practices taking place on British soil for more than eight years, without taking effective regulatory action.

    September 22, 2017

    Myanmar: Video and satellite evidence show new fires still torching Rohingya villages

    Amnesty International has assessed three new videos taken inside Rakhine State as recently as Friday afternoon showing large plumes of smoke rising from Rohingya villages, one of which was already deserted, as well as satellite imagery with smoke visible over burnt-out structures.

    Local sources in northern Rakhine State claim the fires were started by members of the Myanmar security forces and local vigilante mobs.

    September 22, 2017

    Amnesty International has serious fair trial concerns in the case of opposition MP, Faris Maumoon, who faces a hearing on Monday on charges stemming from his attempt to move a vote of no-confidence in the Speaker of Parliament.

    Faris Maumoon was arrested by the Maldivian authorities on 18 July 2017, amid charges that he attempted to bribe parliamentarians into supporting a vote of no-confidence against Abdullah Maseeh, the Speaker of Parliament and a key ally of Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen. Maumoon’s home was raided and property taken, including documents, over the course of four hours.

    “The Maldives has long denied members of the political opposition a fair trial. There have been convictions on trumped-up charges, for all sorts of alleged offences from trespassing to terrorism. There are serious concerns that Faris Maumoon will suffer the same fate. He must be given a fair trial in line with international standards,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    September 22, 2017

    21 September 2017, Ottawa – On July 28, 2017, the French investigative judge issued a notice about the end of investigations in Dr. Hassan Diab’s case, the Canadian citizen and sociology professor who was extradited to France in November 2014. However, the decision has been delayed as the prosecutor is yet to submit written arguments.



    September 21, 2017

    The bomb that destroyed a residential building in Yemen's capital last month, killing 16 civilians and injuring 17 more - including five-year-old Buthaina whose photograph went viral in the aftermath of the strike - was made in the USA, Amnesty International reveals today.

    Amnesty International’s arms expert analysed remnants of the weapon found it bore clear markings that matched US-made components commonly used in laser-guided air-dropped bombs.

    The 25 August air strike hit a cluster of houses in Sana’a, severely damaging three of them, and killing seven children including all five of Buthaina’s brothers and sisters. Eight other children were injured, amongst them was two-year-old Sam Bassim al-Hamdani, who lost both his parents.

    “We can now conclusively say that the bomb that killed Buthaina’s parents and siblings, and other civilians, was made in the USA,” said Lynn Maalouf, Research director for the Middle East at Amnesty International.

    September 21, 2017

    The Ugandan authorities must end their absurd attempts to silence people opposed to scrapping the presidential age limit, said Amnesty International today, as a motion on the controversial proposal was brought to parliament.

    Earlier today the mayor of the country’s capital, Kampala, was arrested by the police and bundled into a pick-up truck outside his home on suspicion that he was headed to a protest against the proposed change.

    Some opposition MPs were blocked from accessing parliament to participate in the debate, which has now been postponed. Demonstrations against the change were also banned.

    “It is ironic and absurd that as the bill is tabled in parliament, the government is blocking citizens from debating the issue,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “All Ugandans must be allowed to freely express their views for or against issues of national importance to them. The actions the government is taking in this case amount to criminalizing dissent and contravene both Ugandan and international law.”

    September 21, 2017

    The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution passed today aimed at holding the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) accountable for war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq falls short of what is needed to stamp out a dangerous culture of impunity and could fuel further abuses, said Amnesty International.

    The unanimously adopted resolution, tabled by the United Kingdom, establishes an "Investigative Team" of experts to support the Iraqi government in collecting, preserving and analyzing evidence of serious crimes. However, the resolution crucially fails to include any provisions to ensure accountability for crimes committed by Iraqi forces and others responsible for grave violations of international law, including war crimes, during the conflict.

    “Initiatives that can help ensure justice for victims of atrocities by IS members in Iraq are of course welcome news. But, this flawed resolution sends a dangerous message to all the other parties to the conflict who have also committed serious violations and crimes that they are above justice,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of the UN Office in New York for Amnesty International.

    September 19, 2017

    September 19, 2017 — Today, 40 organizations and individuals from across Canadian civil society issued a joint letter to government that lays out overarching concerns with Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters. Bill C-59 makes some meaningful and necessary improvements to Canada’s national security regime, but it fails to reverse the legacy of its unpopular predecessor, Bill C-51, and introduces serious new problems. It specifically falls short in mitigating the discriminatory impact national security activities continue to have on vulnerable minorities, which has in the past included conduct that contributed to the torture of Canadians. 

    The signatories all share the concern that — despite the message clearly delivered by Canadians during the federal government’s extensive public consultation on national security — the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter are still not where they belong, at the core of Canada’s national security framework.

    September 19, 2017

    Reacting to today’s speech by Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto leader, on the crisis in Rakhine State, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State. At times, her speech amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming.

    “There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. While it was positive to hear Aung San Suu Kyi condemn human rights violations in Rakhine state, she is still silent about the role of the security forces in this.

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