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Human Rights

    April 21, 2017

    #FreeAJStaff support new #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign

    The three former Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt for more than 400 days have joined thousands of other journalists, artists and activists in an Amnesty International campaign to demand the release of more than 120 journalists jailed in Turkey in the wake of last summer’s failed coup.

    Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed added their voices to the Free Turkey Media campaign which will culminate in a global day of action on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.

    “In the purge that followed the failed coup, Turkey has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists. Many have been held for months and still have no idea of what they’ve been charged with,” said Gauri van Gulik Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    April 20, 2017

    The Qatari authorities must not buckle to demands from Saudi Arabia if they request the deportation of human rights activist Mohammad al-Otaibi back to the country, where he is at risk of being imprisoned and tortured or otherwise ill-treated, said Amnesty International, ahead of a hearing by a Saudi Arabian court scheduled for Tuesday 25 April.

    Mohammad al-Otaibi, a peaceful activist, and founder of a local human rights organization, is being tried in his absence before Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court on a list of ludicrous charges. There are serious fears that he could be deported at any time. He told Amnesty International that Saudi Arabia’s secret police, known as al-Mabahith, have been calling him and asking about his whereabouts.

    April 20, 2017

    (Beirut, 20 April 2017) – Authorities in the United Arab Emirates should immediately release Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights defender who is facing charges that violate his right to freedom of expression, a coalition of 18 human rights organizations said today, one month after his arrest.

    April 19, 2017

    The unending spiral of violence and repression during the protests in Venezuela is submerging the country in a crisis that will be hard to come back from, threatening the lives and security of the Venezuelan population, Amnesty International said following reports of at least two deaths and several people injured and detained during the protests around the country today.

    The Venezuelan authorities confirmed that Paola Ramírez, 23 years old, and Carlos Moreno, 17 years old, were shot dead in San Cristóbal, Táchira and Caracas respectively.

    “Stepping out into the street when protests are taking place in Venezuela should not be a death sentence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The tragic combination of growing violence, uncontrolled repression, and lack of action on the part of the authorities to guarantee freedom of expression and justice is a toxic mix that does nothing more than perpetuate violence.”

    April 19, 2017

    A set of legislative amendments approved by the Egyptian parliament last week in the name of security will sanction mass arbitrary arrests, enable indefinite detention without charge or trial and will severely undermine fair trial guarantees, Amnesty International said in a statement published today. The amendments were rushed through parliament after last week’s deadly bombings of three Coptic churches in Egypt that left 44 people dead and more than 100 injured.

    “If adopted, the proposed legislative amendments would pose an even greater threat to civil liberties by weakening the few remaining protections in the criminal justice system. The amendments give the security forces carte blanche to commit grave violations in the name of combatting terrorism. They would also sanction mass arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention as well as giving courts powers to flout fair trial rights,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 18, 2017

    The UN must prioritize human rights monitoring for the situation in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps across the border in Tindouf, Algeria, Amnesty International urged ahead of a Security Council vote next week on 27 April to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping presence in the area.

    The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) does not currently have a mandate to document or report on the human rights situation despite the fact that abuses continue to be committed by both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement, which administers Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, southern Algeria.

    April 17, 2017

    NEW YORK – The Supreme Court will not hear a case brought by more than two dozen families who have been ordered deported without having their full cases heard by an immigration judge. The families fled horrific violence and human rights abuses in Central America. Many of the families have been held for more than a year in immigration detention facilities, most recently in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The denial by the Supreme Court could result in the families being deported imminently.

    “These families cannot be sent back to certain danger. The United States has an international obligation to grant asylum seekers a fair hearing. They must not be deported, or detained any longer, and must have their full cases heard by an immigration judge,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Families fleeing danger who pose no threat to anyone else should not be treated like criminals. They deserve justice.”

     

    April 15, 2017

    NEW YORK – An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked six executions from taking place after the company that manufactured the drugs to be used in the executions filed a complaint that the drug was not meant to be used for lethal injection.

    A state Supreme Court judge had previously halted the execution of a seventh man earlier in the day, and an eighth execution was put on hold earlier. Arkansas had originally scheduled eight executions in the span of 10 days because their lethal injection supply was set to expire at the end of the month.

    “The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions. We continue to call on Governor Hutchinson to use his executive authority to permanently stop this assembly line of death,” said James Clark, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA. “The fight will not be over until this cruel and inhumane punishment is abolished once and for all.”

    April 13, 2017

    The sentencing of a lawyer to 10 years in prison for a Facebook post exposes the abuse of Egypt’s new counterterrorism law to silence government critics, said Amnesty International.

    On 12 April a court in Alexandria sentenced lawyer Mohamed Ramadan to 10 years in prison, followed by five years under house arrest and a five year ban on using the internet. He was convicted on a series of vaguely worded national security charges including insulting the President, misusing social media platforms and incitement to violence under the country’s draconian counterterrorism law.

    “It is utterly shocking that the Egyptian authorities have imposed such a heavy sentence against someone who was exercising his right to freedom of expression. Posting a comment on Facebook is not a criminal offence – no one should face imprisonment for expressing their views, even if others consider their comments offensive,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 13, 2017

    Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017, the human rights organization announced today.

    The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, on May 27.

    Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada will be six individuals representing the strength and diversity of the movement, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous families and communities. They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating those who have shown exceptional leadership and courage in championing human rights,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    April 10, 2017

    Emergency measures included in a declaration of a state of emergency by President Abdelfattah al-Sissi in the aftermath of three deplorable church bombings in Egypt will do little to resolve the root causes of sectarian attacks against Copts in Egypt and are likely to lead to a further deterioration in human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    The Islamic State armed group (IS) claimed responsibility for the synchronized bombings in Tanta and another two in Alexandria which targeted Palm Sunday church services and left at least 44 dead.

    “The deadly church attacks demonstrate an appalling disregard for human life and must be utterly condemned. Nothing can justify a horrifying attack on ordinary citizens attending a place of worship,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is the duty of the Egyptian authorities to protect the lives and safety of its population, but the solution is not to continue and intensify curtailing what little freedoms remain in Egypt. Addressing sectarian violence requires genuine political will to end impunity and provide protection.

    April 05, 2017
    The brutal torture of two journalists who were abducted en route to Jebel Marra, in Sudan’s Darfur region, is not only a grave affront to press freedom, but also proof that the Sudanese authorities have something to hide in the embattled region, said Amnesty International today ahead of the airing of a film detailing their harrowing six-week ordeal.   Phil Cox, a British national, and Daoud Hari, a Darfuri translator and author, had been commissioned by the UK’s Channel4 TV to investigate reports by Amnesty International that Sudanese security forces had used chemical weapons against civilians in Jebel Marra between January and August 2016.  
    April 05, 2017
    Any absence of human rights from the agenda of the first meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, due to take place in Florida on Thursday and Friday, would risk emboldening governments across the globe to pursue divisive, toxic and dehumanizing politics, Amnesty International said today.   “As two of the most powerful leaders in the world today, what President Trump and President Xi say and do on human rights reverberates far beyond their two borders. This meeting comes as both presidents are rolling back human rights protections, impacting millions of people in China, the US and across the globe. From refugees turned away at the US border to human rights lawyers languishing in Chinese prisons, the consequences of their contempt for human rights are devastating,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.  
    March 30, 2017

    Following a preliminary injunction against the Muslim ban in Hawaii, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, had the following reaction:

    “The courts have once again clearly rejected the Muslim ban. Like the previous travel ban, the new order is indefensibly discriminatory. Rather than make people safer, the order has caused thousands of people to live in fear and uncertainty. President Trump must abandon this failed agenda and immediately revoke the ban.”

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    For media requests, please contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations: jkuehn@amnesty.ca // 613-744-7667 x 236

    March 30, 2017

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will reportedly lift human rights conditions on an arms sale to Bahrain, despite that country’s record of oppression against dissidents and participation in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition that has bombed thousands of civilians in Yemen. Yemen is one of the six Muslim-majority countries included in Trump’s revised travel ban executive order.

    Sunjeev Bery, an advocacy director with Amnesty International USA, made the following statement in response:

    “While getting weapons from the USA, Bahrain’s government is silencing critics at home and participating in a military coalition that is bombing civilians in Yemen. This deal sends a dangerous signal to Bahrain and all other countries that engage in serious human rights violations. It is particularly galling to arm these governments while simultaneously barring those fleeing violence entrance to the USA. These deals place the USA at risk of being complicit in war crimes, and discourage other countries, like Saudi Arabia, from addressing their own human rights records.”

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