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Enforced Disappearances

    April 29, 2014

    The failure of an official investigation to uncover hard evidence of Finland’s alleged role in the US-led programmes of rendition and secret detention a decade ago is deeply disappointing, said Amnesty International today.

    While the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s investigation found no evidence that Finnish officials had any knowledge of rendition flights by the CIA in Finland, it “could not give any guarantees” as some flight information was not included in the probe because it is simply no longer available.

    “The Finnish investigation is a classic example of too little, too late. Victims of CIA renditions and secret detention operations must have access to an effective remedy. While the Ombudsman worked hard to uncover the truth, the Finnish process is incomplete and inconclusive, leaving potential victims with no access to justice,” said Susanna Mehtonen, Legal Adviser at Amnesty International Finland.
     
    Had the Finnish government responded to the Council of Europe’s inquiries in 2005 about CIA rendition operations, the relevant information would have been accessible.

    December 04, 2013

    Authorities in Mali must urgently identify the 21 bodies found in a mass grave last night, believed to belong to soldiers abducted in May 2012, Amnesty International said.

    “Ever since the soldiers were abducted from the Kati Military Camp, their loved ones have been desperate to know what has happened to them. Authorities in Mali must now do everything in their power to give the families the full truth,” said Gaĕtan Mootoo, Mali researcher at Amnesty International, who met with some of the relatives of the soldiers last week.

    “Unfortunately, the initial reports seem to confirm our fears that the 21 soldiers could have been executed,” added Gaĕtan Mootoo. “Amnesty International extends its deepest sympathies to all the families concerned.”

    The mass grave was discovered following the arrest of General Amadou Haya Sanogo who led a military coup in Mali in March 2012. Several of his soldiers were also detained.

    They were charged with kidnapping, murder and assassination in connection with the disappearance of 21 ‘red beret’ soldiers suspected of supporting a counter-coup against General Sanogo.

    November 05, 2013

    The Spanish government’s lack of action when it comes to disappearances is shameful. The government’s appalling failure to investigate Franco-era crimes is compounded by its failure to protect people from being victims of disappearances today.

    The Spanish authorities’ refusal to address the legacy of Franco era disappearances is a betrayal of justice, Amnesty International said ahead of a key UN meeting that will take up the issue.

    Proposed reforms to Spain’s Criminal Code fall far short of what is required under international law on enforced disappearances.

    “The Spanish government’s lack of action when it comes to disappearances is shameful,” said Ignacio Jovtis, Amnesty International’s Spain Researcher.

    The Spanish authorities also continue to refuse to investigate the tens of thousands of killings and disappearances during the Spanish Civil War and under the rule of Francisco Franco (1936-1975).

    October 23, 2013

    Elements of Mali’s military appear to be carrying out a purge and extrajudicial killings of soldiers who took part in a mutiny last month in a barracks outside the capital Bamako, Amnesty International said today based on its research.

    The bodies of four soldiers were discovered earlier this month near the capital and several others, including a Colonel, remain unaccounted for. These apparent extrajudicial executions and disappearances raise fears that soldiers loyal to General Amadou Haya Sanogo, who staged a coup in March 2012, are purging their ranks to quell dissent.

    “This is the latest shocking example of how a small group of soldiers who appear to consider themselves above the law continue to cling onto power in Mali,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International's researcher on West Africa.

    September 13, 2013

    The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano must reject a former CIA agent’s plea to be pardoned for a crime he committed in the country as part of the US-led rendition programme, Amnesty International said.

    Robert Seldon Lady – who is now believed to be back in the USA – wrote to the Italian leader on Wednesday to request a pardon. An Italian court previously convicted him in absentia, sentencing him to nine years in prison for his role in the abduction of Abu Omar from Milan in 2003.

    “This is someone who admits to taking part in a kidnapping operation that resulted in a man being sent to prison in Egypt, where he was tortured. Robert Seldon Lady has evaded justice for a decade, and letting him off the hook now would send a very dangerous message that there is no accountability for crimes that led to enforced disappearance and torture,” said Julia Hall, expert on counter-terrorism and human rights at Amnesty International.

    August 30, 2013

    Enforced disappearances in the Americas are not only an inheritance of the dark past of the authoritarian governments of the 1970s and 80s, but also an appalling ongoing practice, Amnesty International said as it marked the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

    “In Colombia and in Mexico, the authorities aren’t facing up to a serious ongoing problem of enforced disappearances,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director.

    “Both countries’ governments are failing to effectively investigate these cases and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice. This impunity only fuels new enforced disappearances, as the perpetrators believe there are no consequences for their actions.
     
    Meanwhile in other countries in the region – including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti – thousands of people are still missing decades after internal conflicts and political repression.

    June 12, 2013

    A five-year investigation into Poland’s involvement in the US-led rendition and secret detention programs must be completed immediately, with those responsible for human rights violations brought to justice in fair trials, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    The Polish government is accused of colluding with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to establish a secret prison at Stare Kiejkuty, 180 km north of Warsaw, where suspects were subjected to enforced disappearance and tortured between 2002 and 2005.

    The investigation of the CIA 'black site' has dragged on since 2008 and has been conducted largely under cover of secrecy. The Polish prosecutors have thus far declined to disclose almost any information related to the investigation or make its findings public.

    June 04, 2013

    Disappearances in Mexico have become commonplace because federal and state authorities have tolerated and refused to clamp down on them, Amnesty International said as it launched a new briefing today.

    The recent commitments by senior government officials to end disappearances and locate the victims are important, but will mean nothing to the relatives if they do not produce tangible results to end impunity and clarify the whereabouts of victims.

    Confronting a nightmare: Disappearances in Mexico highlights the country’s ongoing pattern of disappearances amid the government’s efforts to rein in organized criminal groups. These often include enforced disappearances – carried out by public officials.

    The federal government has recognized that at least 26,000 people were reported disappeared or missing over the last six years. Last week the Interior Minister suggested the real number was much lower, despite the lack of full investigations.

    June 04, 2013

    A mother’s tireless efforts to search for her missing son tell a tale of horror and hope in Mexico

    by Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada's campaigner on Latin America

     

    More than two years have passed since I met Yolanda but I have never forgotten her or the harrowing story she told me.

    Yolanda’s son Dan Jeremeel, an insurance agent living in northern Mexico and the father of four young children, disappeared in December 2008.  He left the house according to his normal routine. But he never returned. He was never seen again.

    June 03, 2013

    The new report Confronting a Nightmare - Disappearances in Mexico launched on June 4th, 2013, in Mexico City. The report addresses:

    Current situation of disappearances and enforced disappearances in the context of a rise in violent crime and human rights violations in the last few years Who are committing the crimes Who the victims are and the impact on families Risk for Human Right Defenders and relatives Impunity for virtually all cases What the Mexican government is doing on this What must be done For more information, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter Communications - Media Officer Amnesty International Canada 416-363-9933 ext 332
    January 22, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release, as well as respect for the lives and personal safety, of five mining workers taken hostage last Friday, reportedly by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group.

    The five workers, including two Peruvians, one Canadian and two Colombians, were taken captive in the northern department (province) of Bolívar.

    Amnesty International condemns hostage-taking, which is a serious breach of international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime.

    The organization is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the five men and any other civilians being held by the parties to the Colombian armed conflict.

    Amnesty International also calls on the authorities to identify those responsible for this and other cases of kidnapping and hostage-taking and ensure that they are brought to justice.

    For further information, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332 email: bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    December 18, 2012

    Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto must implement immediate and concrete measures to tackle some of the country’s most pressing human rights issues, including abuses in the context of the public security crisis, said Amnesty International in an open letter.

    According to Amnesty International’s research, human rights violations such as enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions and lack of access to justice became routine during the previous administration.

    “Peña Nieto’s positive discourse regarding human rights, including commitments to move ahead with the General Victim’s Law and reform of laws criminalizing enforced disappearances, are welcome but promises and good intentions are not enough to eradicate and prevent human rights violations,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Adviser at Amnesty International.

    “A very good first step President Peña Nieto can take as as commander in chief of the armed forces is to instruct them to respect human rights or face the consequences. ”

    December 14, 2012

    Today’s conviction of the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is welcome progress, but prosecutors must not rest until those who masterminded the assassination are brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.  

    Former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov was found guilty and sentenced today to 11 years in a high security penal colony.  

    The trial of five other accomplices who worked with Pavliutchenkov to observe and assassinate Politkovskaya is expected to begin in March next year.  

    “While we welcome today’s verdict and the long-awaited prosecutions of Anna Politskovskaya’s killers, this case can never truly be closed until those who ordered her murder are named and brought to justice,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    A journalist and human rights defender known for her critical reports from Chechnya, Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in the elevator of her building on 7 October 2006.  

    November 08, 2012

    “[I will] crush the throat of your son […] return him back to you like Ghayath Mattar”. Threat reportedly said by the leader of the raid on Muhammad Yassin Al Hamwi’s apartment.  (Syrian activist Ghayath Mattar died in custody four days after his arrest on September 6, 2011.)

    On September 23, 2011, more than 20 uniformed and plain-clothed members of security forces believed to be Air Force Intelligence arrived at the apartment of 65-year-old Muhammad Yassin Al Hamwi (also known as Abu Haytham) looking for his 22-year-old son Muhammad Muhammad Al Hamwi who was visiting friends elsewhere in the building.

    The security forces arrested Muhammad Yassin Al Hamwi, confiscated digital equipment and other items from the apartment and destroyed property. They then proceeded to arrest Muhammad Muhammad Al Hamwi along with two other men he had been visiting: 34-year-old Ahmad Kuraitem and 22-year-old Shaker al-Masri. All four men remain detained incommunicado at an unknown location.

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