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    March 24, 2017

    The killing of the third journalist in a month in Mexico raises new alarms about the state of free expression in the country, said Amnesty International. 

    Miroslava Breach, a reporter for La Jornada and el Norte de Juarez, was shot dead while she was in her car outside her home in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Miroslava was known for reporting on issues including organised crime and drug trafficking. 

    “In Mexico a ‘war’ is raging against journalists. The country has turned into a no-go zone for anyone brave enough to talk about issues including the increasing power of organised crime and the collusion of these groups with the authorities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Journalism should not be a life threatening profession. Instead of looking the other way and ignoring this bloodshed, the Mexican authorities must take concrete measures to protect journalists and anyone daring to talk about the country’s ills. This crime should be urgently investigated and those responsible, brought to justice.”

    March 24, 2017

    Ahead of the sixtieth anniversary of the Rome Treaty, Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office has called for Europe to uphold its founding principles of the protection and promotion of human rights:

     “At this key juncture in its history, it is vital that leaders recall and recommit to the EU’s founding spirit of protecting human dignity even in dark times. As they celebrate the past and plot the way for the future, a strong joint stance on the importance of human rights is imperative.

    “The EU’s response to the challenges of the global refugee crisis, countering terrorism and to the global crackdown on human rights defenders have left many questioning its commitment to human rights in practice. At this cross roads, EU leaders must recall its founding principles and commit to upholding them. Reeling in those member states that are flagrantly violating their EU Treaty obligations on human rights would be an obvious and good place to start”.

     

     

    March 24, 2017

    Belarusian authorities must ensure that rallies planned in the capital Minsk and elsewhere on Freedom Day, 25 March, are allowed to go ahead unhindered by excessive use of police force or arbitrary detentions of peaceful protesters such as those witnessed in recent weeks, Amnesty International said.

    This year’s turnout is expected to be the largest in years, fueled by public discontent over a punitive bill against the jobless and a notable drop in living standards in Belarus.

    “Belarusian authorities must honour their international obligations and finally come to recognize peaceful protest as a fundamental right. In practice this means refraining from banning public rallies, using force against peaceful protesters or otherwise persecuting them,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Public officials must stop depicting dissenters as a ‘fifth column’, and instead ensure the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for all.”

    March 24, 2017

    In response to the attack in Westminster, London, earlier this week, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: 

    “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible attack in Westminster.

    “This reprehensible attack at the heart of our democracy and on innocent people was a grave breach of human rights.

    “In difficult times such as these, it is important to remain kind and compassionate to one another.

    “Our common humanity must not be undermined by those who seek to divide us. We must stand together against hatred.”

    March 24, 2017

    Responding to today’s International Criminal Court (ICC) order awarding reparations to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Germain Katanga case, Solomon Sacco, Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Adviser said:

    “Today's decision by the ICC is an important step towards addressing the horrific suffering of the victims of the atrocities committed by Germain Katanga including murder, destruction of property and pillaging.”

    “Providing full and effective reparation will help the victims of these war crimes and crimes against humanity to rebuild their lives. But we must not forgot that there are hundreds of thousands of other victims of similar crimes in the DRC, and whom the ICC will not be able to assist.”

    “Today’s decision should be a catalyst to end this impunity and demand that the DRC government ensures justice, truth and reparation for all victims across the country.”

    Background:

    March 24, 2017

    An internationally mandated fact-finding mission to look at human rights violations in Myanmar is welcome, urgently needed and long overdue, Amnesty International said today.

    “The announcement of an independent international fact-finding mission to look into human rights violations in Myanmar is long overdue. After the Myanmar government’s failure to establish a credible investigation into the security forces’ crimes against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, there is an urgent need for a team of international experts examine alleged violations there, in Kachin and in northern Shan State,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The Myanmar government should welcome the fact-finding mission and assist it in every possible way with its work. The world has a right to know the full truth of events after Amnesty International and the UN both found that human rights violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity.”

    Background

    March 23, 2017

    The security forces killed one person and seriously injured at least two others as they opened fire on protesting students in the city of Bo today, Amnesty International said.

    “This bloodshed and loss of young life is a tragedy and suggests a heavy handed response by the security forces to a student protest,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    “We urge the police to refrain from committing human rights violations and instead allow the students to safely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

    “The authorities must conduct an independent investigation to shed light on the circumstances of this killing and all injuries and, if there is sufficient evidence, ensure accountability through fair trials.”

    March 23, 2017

    The USA and UK are fuelling serious violations that have caused devastating civilian suffering through multibillion-dollar arms transfers to Saudi Arabia that vastly overshadow their humanitarian efforts, said Amnesty International.

    Since the conflict began two years ago in March 2015, the US and UK have together transferred more than US$5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia which is leading the military coalition in Yemen. This is more than 10 times the estimated US$450 million that the US State Department and the UK’s Department for International Development have spent or budgeted to spend in aid to Yemen over the past two years.

    “Two years of conflict have forced three million people to flee their homes, shattered the lives of thousands of civilians and left Yemen facing a humanitarian disaster with more than 18 million in desperate need of assistance. Yet despite the millions of dollars’ worth of international assistance allocated to the country, many states have contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people by continuing to supply billions of dollars’ worth of arms,” said Lynn Maalouf Deputy Director for

    March 22, 2017

    British national Violette Uwamahoro, the pregnant wife of a political opposition activist living in exile, who was arrested by Rwandan authorities and held incommunicado, will make her first appearance in court at a bail hearing in the capital Kigali tomorrow, said Amnesty International.

    Violette Uwamahoro, who lives in the UK with her two children, disappeared in Kigali on 14 February. She had returned to the country to attend her father’s funeral. She had just called a family member to let them know she was arriving at the city’s main bus station when her phone went dead.

    Rwandan government officials initially denied knowledge of her whereabouts, before the police confirmed on 3 March that she was in their custody.

    “Violette Uwamahoro was illegally held without access to lawyers or her family for more than two weeks. This is an unacceptable breach of Rwandan and international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region.

    March 22, 2017

    Pakistan’s lawmakers must immediately reverse their decision to reinstate military courts, Amnesty International said today.

    Two months after their original mandate of two years lapsed, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill to reinstate military courts that violate international law, strip defendants of key rights, and operate in notorious secrecy.

    “Military courts have no business trying civilians. There is no fair process involved where trials are held in secrecy, there is no right to appeal, and judges may be unqualified to preside in judgment,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Adviser on South Asia.

    “By surrendering the judicial system to the military, Pakistan’s lawmakers have failed in their duty to support an independent civilian judiciary. They are recklessly abandoning people to a court system that has in the last two years produced coerced confessions, unfair trials and executions.”

    Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about the charges or evidence against the suspects, or the sentences given, is made available in the public domain.

    March 22, 2017

    A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said Amnesty International.

    Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday 20 March, his wife told Amnesty International. 

    He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people.”  His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

    March 20, 2017

    The Bahraini authorities have once again displayed their ruthless determination to silence activists and crush all signs of dissent by charging prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif with “inciting hatred against the regime” in a series of tweets, said Amnesty International.

    Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of secular opposition party, the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was summoned for questioning this morning by the prosecution unit for terrorist crimes. He was released shortly afterwards but only after being informed that he was being charged with “incitement to hatred against the regime” over a series of tweets. One of the tweets included an Amnesty International social media graphic featuring 20 individuals who have been imprisoned in violation of their human rights since the 2011 uprising.

    “Once again Ebrahim Sharif is being unjustly punished simply for exercizing his right to freedom of expression. The charge against him is ludicrous and must be dropped immediately,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s office in Beirut.

    March 20, 2017

    Following the arrest of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor at 3:15AM local time after a lengthy room-by-room search of his apartment, Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, said:

    “Amnesty International is appalled and dismayed at this surprise overnight raid resulting in the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, a courageous and prominent human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.

    “We believe Ahmed Mansoor was detained for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, and we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

    At around midnight, 10 male and two female uniformed security officials stormed the family’s apartment and carried out a lengthy room-by-room search, including of the children’s bedroom. They confiscated electronic devices and took Ahmed Mansoor away at around 3:15AM local time. They did not inform his wife where he was being taken.

    March 17, 2017

    Myanmar’s authorities must immediately act on the urgent calls made in an interim report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

    “The authorities must immediately act on the Rakhine Commission’s recommendations to grant humanitarian access, end the media blackout in northern Rakhine State, and ensure the perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    On 16 March 2017, the Commission published its interim report, with recommendations to the Myanmar government on “improving the welfare of all people in Rakhine state”. The report’s authors said their recommendations must be met with “urgent action” by the Myanmar authorities.

    “Unfortunately, the commission’s recommendations do not far enough to address the increasingly dire situation on the ground. There is much more the authorities can and should do, including lifting restrictions on freedom of movement for the Rohingya and other Muslims,” said Champa Patel. 

    March 17, 2017

    The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s governing body must continue to scrutinize Qatar’s record on migrant labour abuse, Amnesty International said, ahead of a crucial 21 March decision on a complaint brought by trade unions against the Gulf state.

    Last week the government stated it had “repealed” its controversial sponsorship law, including the requirement that migrant workers obtain an exit permit from their employers to leave the country. Amnesty International does not accept this claim and considers that there are not currently sufficient grounds to close the complaint against Qatar. The organization is calling for the ILO’s complaint process to continue, in line with a draft decision issued ahead of Tuesday’s session.

    “This is a critical juncture for migrant workers in Qatar. The government has made some public commitments in response to ILO pressure, but its claims that it has abolished the sponsorship system simply do not add up,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

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