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Human Rights

    March 16, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Following a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, executive director at Amnesty International USA had the following reaction:

    “As long as this hateful policy remains, it will continue to be fought in courts while thousands of people and families are trapped in uncertainty. Congress can end this by passing legislation that effectively nullifies the ban. This decision against the ban tells us what we already know: this is anti-Muslim bigotry falsely packaged as security. Hatred won’t make us safe. The ban must be repealed now.”

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    March 13, 2017

    Photographic evidence and witness testimony gathered by Amnesty International at the scene suggest that Palestinian security forces used excessive force to violently suppress a peaceful protest outside of the Ramallah District Court in the West Bank on 12 March 2017.

    Ten minutes after the protest against the prosecution of six Palestinian men, including slain activist Basil al-Araj, began outside the courthouse in al-Bireh area, Amnesty International researchers witnessed heavily armed security forces arriving, carrying batons and shields. They immediately began to charge towards the protesters, violently striking them with the wooden batons, using pepper spray and firing tear gas into the crowd. At least 21 people (13 men and eight women) were injured, including four journalists covering the event. Seventeen were hospitalized.

    March 10, 2017

    On the occasion of World Day Against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2017, ProtonMail and Amnesty International join forces to show how internet restrictions affect people around the world.

    As the world’s largest encrypted email provider, ProtonMail is the privacy tool of choice for journalists, activists and privacy conscious everyday users. Today when logging into their inboxes, ProtonMail’s two million users from 150 countries will see Amnesty International’s latest findings on cyber censorship.

    Amnesty International has documented 55 countries where people were arrested for peaceful expression online.

    March 10, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling finding Joram Mwesigye, a senior Ugandan police officer, guilty of assaulting journalist Andrew Lwanga in January 2015, Abdullahi Halakhe, Amnesty International’s East Africa Researcher, said:

    “Today’s ruling is a rare victory for freedom of the press in Uganda. It sends a clear message that attacks on journalists must never be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances. It will hopefully assure people working in the media that the courts are watching; willing and ready to uphold their rights.

    “Press freedom has become increasingly restricted in Uganda with numerous attacks on media outlets seen as critical of the government in the past year. Today’s court decision offers a chink of light in an otherwise bleak outlook and demonstrates that the judiciary is prepared to defend freedom of expression.”

    Background

    March 10, 2017

    The Malawian authorities must step up action to protect people with albinism who are being targeted for ritual murders, Amnesty International said today, following another attack in the country’s capital Lilongwe.

    Last night four men attempted to drill through the wall of the home of Gilbert Daire, former president of the Association of the People with Albinism, as he slept. They fled the scene after his neighbours intervened.

    “This brazen attack happened in the middle of the country’s busiest city, and sends a chilling message about the lack protection, safety and security of all people with albinism,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “In the past two years we have seen an alarming surge in attacks on people with albinism. We have documented dozens of individuals being hunted down like animals for their body parts, but these brazen attacks seem to continue unabated. Malawian authorities must end this cycle of impunity of perpetrators of these crimes.”

    March 10, 2017

    Azeri human rights activists, journalists and political dissidents have been the targets of a fraudulent and sustained ‘spear phishing’ campaign using emails and Facebook chat, apparently aimed at gaining access to their personal information and private communications, said Amnesty International in a new report launched today.

    The investigation reveals that the attacks, which can compromise passwords and contacts, have been directed at various government critics for the past 13 months. Victims told Amnesty International they believed the Azerbaijani authorities are behind the attacks.

    “Our research reveals that a targeted and coordinated cyber campaign is being waged against critical voices in Azerbaijan, many of whom are long-time victims of government repression,” said Claudio Guarnieri, Senior Technologist at Amnesty International.

    “The malware used has been designed with the express intention of gathering as much private information as possible about a target. Given the profiles of those targeted, it is not hard to see why victims believe the authorities are responsible.”

    March 09, 2017

    Amnesty International has corroborated new evidence the Saudi Arabia-led coalition recently fired Brazilian-manufactured rockets containing banned cluster munitions striking three residential areas and surrounding farmland in the middle of Sa’da city, injuring two civilians and causing material damage.

    The attack, which took place at 10.30pm on 15 February 2017, is the third confirmed use of Brazilian-manufactured cluster munitions documented by Amnesty International in the last 16 months.

    “The Saudi Arabia-led coalition absurdly justifies its use of cluster munitions by claiming it is in line with international law, despite concrete evidence of the human cost to civilians caught up in the conflict,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at the Beirut regional office.

    March 07, 2017

    The Indonesian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release three people convicted under the country’s blasphemy laws for peacefully practicing their beliefs, Amnesty International said today.

    Ahmad Mussadeq, Mahful Muis Tumanurung, and Andri Cahya are three members of a now disbanded religious minority group known as Gafatar who were sentenced for blasphemy by the East Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

    “The sentences show how Indonesia’s vague, coercive and discriminatory blasphemy laws are being used to punish people for peacefully exercising minority beliefs,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “These individuals must be released immediately and unconditionally, and the blasphemy law, which flies in the face of Indonesia’s human rights obligations, should be repealed.”

    March 07, 2017

    Nepal’s authorities must promptly investigate the security forces who opened fire on a crowd of protestors in Saptari district in the Tarai, Nepal’s southern plains, killing three people and injuring 16, Amnesty International said today.

    “This was an unlawful use of lethal force. There must be a prompt, effective and impartial investigation, and those responsible must be held accountable,” said Aura Freeman, Amnesty International’s Nepal campaigner.

    On Monday, supporters of the Samyukta Loktrantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) gathered to protest against an election rally of the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party. The SLMM, an alliance of Madhes based parties, are boycotting the election as no changes have been made to the constitution. There were clashes between protesters and the security forces policing the rally. Some of the protesters allegedly threw stones and other objects at the security forces, who  then fired tear gas grenades and used firearms against them. According to a government official, police had first tried to disperse the protesters with batons and tear gas before firing their guns.

    March 07, 2017

    The forced displacement of 300 people from a community in North West Colombia by a paramilitary group is tragic evidence that the armed conflict is far from over, said Amnesty International.

    Over the weekend, some 200 armed men identified as members of paramilitary group the Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC) entered the town of Peña Azul, Alto Baudó, Chocó, in North Western Colombia.

    Witnesses claim the paramilitaries entered the town looking for members of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army ELN (Ejército Nacional de Liberación) and effectively forced 399 people (128 families) to flee out of fear for their lives. The whereabouts of eight families of these families still remains unknown.

    March 07, 2017

    Member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must demand a proper investigation into alleged chemical attacks by Sudanese government forces in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, said Amnesty International today, as the OPCW’s Executive Council begins its four-day meeting in The Hague.

    In a shocking report published in September 2016, Amnesty International revealed credible evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons, against civilians, including very young children, from January to August 2016.

    “These brutal attacks left an estimated 200 to 250 people dead and scores more with horrific injuries, and the OPCW must fully and independently investigate them. Failure by member states to trigger the investigation would be a monumental and shameful abdication of duty,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    March 03, 2017

    DUBLIN, 3 March 2017 - Amnesty International has called on the Irish government to ensure that the Commission of Investigation into ‘Mother and Baby Homes’ fully investigates alleged human rights abuses, following the discovery of ‘significant’ quantities of human remains in Tuam, Co. Galway.  The organisation had broadly welcomed the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into allegations of serious human rights abuses at ‘Mother and Baby’ homes around Ireland, though it cautioned that the Commission needed to conduct an effective and comprehensive investigation that is fully compliant with Ireland’s human rights obligations.

    March 02, 2017

    Sara Beltran Hernandez, a 26-year-old mother who fled violence in El Salvador and has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Texas for 15 months, has granted bond. She is expected be released this evening to be with her family and to seek treatment for a brain tumor.

    Amnesty International had campaigned for her release and mobilized its 1.2 million members across the country to flood ICE with phone calls asking for Sara to be freed.

    “Sara and her family are overjoyed that she will finally be able to be with her loved ones and receive medical care after being unjustly detained for over 400 days,” said Eric Ferrero of Amnesty International USA.

    “Sara never should have been held for so long in the first place, let alone with a medical issue. It is unconscionable to treat people fleeing violence and danger as if they are criminals. Applying for asylum should not mean giving up one’s human rights in the process.”

    February 28, 2017

    Russia and China have again abused their veto power at the United Nations Security Council today, following a vote on a draft resolution that would have helped ensure accountability for the use and production of chemical weapons by all parties to the conflict in Syria, said Amnesty International.

    “By vetoing this resolution Russia and China have displayed a callous disregard for the lives of millions of Syrians. Both states are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention– there is simply no excuse for their vetoes today,” said Sherine Tadros, head of UN office in New York for Amnesty International.

    “For six years Russia, with the support of China, has blocked Security Council decisions that would have punitive consequences for the Syrian government. This behavior prevents justice and emboldens all parties to the conflict in Syria to act with indifference to international law. The message coming from the international community is that when it comes to Syria, there are no red lines.” 

    February 28, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ administrative detention of Muhammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist is unjust and cruel, said Amnesty International after a military judge approved an order confirming his detention for three months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

    Muhammed al-Qiq, who was placed in solitary confinement following his arrest, has been on hunger strike since 6 February in protest at his detention. According to his lawyer his health has deteriorated in recent weeks and he is in need of specialized medical care. Israel uses administrative detention to jail Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial based on secret evidence.

    “Today’s decision to approve the administrative detention of Muhammed al-Qiq is an affront to justice. Israel’s administrative detention which is predominately used to detain Palestinians without charge or trial is arbitrary and abusive. The Israeli authorities must end this practice, which itself can amount to cruel and inhuman treatment, once and for all,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. 

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