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International Justice

    March 21, 2013

    It's time for states across the Americas to confirm their commitment to human rights, Amnesty International said today one day ahead of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) on 22 March.

    In particular the assembly should support the work of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, as represented by Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

    “International independent monitoring of human rights country-by-country is essential for the region,” declared Renzo Pomi, Amnesty International Representative at the United Nations and the OAS. “The work done so far both by the Court and the Commision is a proof of that need”.

    “The IACHR has decisively contributed to the consolidation of democracy in the continent and to the rights and guarantees that the majority of the people of the Americas are now able to enjoy,” said Pomi.

    March 18, 2013

    The trial of Guatemala’s ex-president General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of military intelligence Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez -due to start on Tuesday 19 March – marks a long-awaited opportunity for justice for the victims of crimes against humanity committed against Guatemala’s Mayan communities, Amnesty International said today.

    In 1999, a UN-backed truth commission found that during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996) some 200,000 people - over 80% of whom were of Mayan descent - were killed or disappeared, and that genocide had occurred.

    Montt and Sánchez, are to be tried as the intellectual authors of the killings of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department.

    “This moment is truly historic because it is the first time that a former head of state in Central America is to be put on trial for crimes under international law,” said Guadalupe Marengo, director of Amnesty International’s Americas Programme.

    February 06, 2013

    Former Haitian leader Jean-Claude Duvalier must not be allowed to evade justice for his alleged responsibility for crimes against humanity committed during his time in office and the victims must receive reparations, Amnesty International said as a Court was due to hear an appeal on the case against the former President known as "Baby Doc".

    During the hearing, the Court will assess a request by victims’ families and survivors of torture, illegal executions and enforced disappearances during Duvalier’s time in power (1971-1986) to overturn a previous decision not to investigate the former leader’s alleged responsibility for the crimes.

    In January 2012, the investigating judge assigned to the case decided to try the former leader only for embezzlement of public funds, claiming the crimes against humanity for which he was accused had expired under a statute of limitations in Haitian law.

    February 01, 2013

    The trial of 24 Sahrawi civilians before a military court in Morocco is flawed from the outset Amnesty International said today as it called for the defendants to be tried in a civilian court and for an investigation into their torture allegations.

    All of the group, which includes several activists, are on trial in Rabat today in relation to violence during and after the dismantling of the Gdim Izik protest camp near Laayoune, Western Sahara in November 2010, when 11 members of the security forces and two Sahrawis were killed.

    Most of the defendants have said that they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated at different stages of their two-year pre-trial detention. Some are said to have been coerced into signing statements.

    "The trial of civilians before a military court does not meet internationally recognized standards for a fair trial. The 24 accused must be brought before a civilian court with all the human rights guarantees that go along with it, and in no event must anyone be sentenced to death," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa.

    January 30, 2013

    Violence in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan elections which claimed 1,300 lives shows just how vital it is Kenyan police are properly prepared ahead of polls this March, Amnesty International said in a new report, Police Reform in Kenya: “A Drop in the Ocean”.

    The report details how delays in implementing new laws on policing mean that many of the same police structures in place during 2007-8 post-election violence will responsible for security for
    the 4 March vote.

    “With five weeks to go to the elections the Kenyan authorities must show the political will and take urgent measures to prevent human rights abuses during the election period.” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Program Director. 

    One government official told Amnesty International that new laws and equipment introduced since 2008 are just a “drop in the ocean”.

    The report documents continued human rights violations by the police, despite ongoing reform, including arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment.

    January 26, 2013

    Since its inception in 2002, the African Union (AU) has become a central player in Africa in the areas of conflict resolution, peace and security, international justice and the general promotion and protection of human rights.

    On the eve of a meeting of AU Heads of State on 27 and 28 January in Addis Ababa, Amnesty International is urging the AU to give particular attention to the protection of human rights in conflict situations in Africa, including the protection of civilians in Mali, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    Mali:  Since the beginning of the armed conflict in northern Mali in January 2012, Amnesty International has documented crimes under international law committed by all the parties to the conflict. Tuareg and Islamist armed opposition groups have committed human rights abuses, including torture and killings of captured Malian soldiers, rape of women and girls and recruitment of child soldiers.

    January 22, 2013

    A prosecutor in the Dominican Republic has filed charges against five policemen and a naval officer for the murder of two men in 2009, in what Amnesty International called a key case that points to the pressing need for radical police reform in the Caribbean country.

    On 19 January the Prosecutor’s office in north-western Montecristi province filed the charges against the officers for their responsibility for killing William de Jesús Checo and Cecilio Díaz, who were shot dead on 10 October 2009.

    Amnesty International has campaigned for justice for the men’s killings, and raised the case in a meeting with the Prosecutor General late last year.

    “After more than three years, the decision to formally charge these police officers and move on with legal proceedings is a major advance, and we hope the investigation and prosecution will look into how high up the police chain of command the responsibility lies for these killings,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Adviser to Amnesty International.

    January 10, 2013

    The investigation into the gunning down of three Kurdish women activists in Paris must be prompt and thorough, Amnesty International said.

    Sakine Cansýz, a founder of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fidan Dogan and Leyla Söylemez were found shot dead at the “Kurdistan Information Office” on the evening of 9 January.

    “There must be justice for these apparently political killings – no stone must be left unturned in the investigation by the French authorities,” said John Dalhuisen,Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “The Turkish authorities must cooperate fully in the investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

    The killings come at time when the Government of Turkey and the PKK have begun peace negotiations.

    “Both sides must ensure that the killings do not derail negotiations aimed at ending the decades long conflict and ongoing human rights abuses,” said Dalhuisen.

    December 19, 2012

    The detention of a 16-year-old Bahraini boy in an adult prison has been extended for a further week despite the Bahraini authorities’ failure to bring any charges against him, which Amnesty International said violates international standards of justice.

    On 11 December, police raided the family home of Mohammad Mohammad ‘Abdulnabi ‘Abdulwasi in Sitra – an island east of the capital Manama – and arrested him, despite failing to produce a warrant. Family members present at the time allege that riot police broke the main door and took money and other possessions with them.

    Since his arrest, the 16-year-old has not been allowed to see his family or a lawyer, and his unlawful detention in Dry Dock Prison – a facility for adults – has been extended until 26 December.

    “It is absolutely shocking that Bahraini authorities broke into this boy’s house, detained him unlawfully and are still holding him in an adult prison, despite never bringing any charges against him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    December 18, 2012

    Legal loopholes in Vanuatu, Sierra Leone and Ghana make all three countries potential safe havens for fugitives suspected of war crime and crimes against humanity, and urgently need to be closed, Amnesty International said.

    In three reports released today as part of its No Safe Haven series, Amnesty International examines in detail how these countries have potentially left their doors open to those suspected of crimes under international law.

    “There is a real risk that suspected war criminals will find safe haven in these countries and escape prosecution for some of the most serious offences known to humanity,” said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser for Amnesty International.

    “All three countries must take immediate and concrete steps to ensure they do not unwittingly provide refuge to these suspects.”

    None of the three countries have provisions in their domestic legislation to enable the authorities, using the rule of universal jurisdiction, to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of committing crimes under international law abroad.

    December 18, 2012

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague today acquitted Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, who had been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    The National Integration Front (FNI) armed group under Ngudjolo Chui’s command has been accused of rape, sexual slavery and other serious crimes under international law during a February 2003 attack against the village of Bogoro in the eastern DRC’s Ituri region.

    “This ruling undoubtedly will disappoint many victims, but it should only strengthen demands for justice in the DRC where impunity is pervasive and thousands of suspects have never been investigated or prosecuted by the ICC or national courts,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Programme.

    “With the completion of Ngudjolo Chui’s trial, attention should turn to the horrific abuses that are still being committed with almost complete impunity in eastern DRC today, including killings, rape and sexual violence in North Kivu province.

    November 29, 2012

    The acquittal of three high-ranking members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after a retrial on war crimes charges has prompted Amnesty International to reiterate its call for justice for all of the victims in the 1998-9 Kosovo war, and their relatives.

    Ex-prime minister and former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Brahimaj, his uncle, and a fellow KLA commander, and deputy commander Idriz Balaj, were found not guilty  of a joint criminal enterprise to mistreat Kosovo Serbs, Roma and Egyptians, and Albanians perceived to be collaborators with the Serbian authorities, or otherwise not supporters of the KLA.

    They were also acquitted on all counts relating to individual criminal responsibility for the murder, cruel treatment and torture, as war crimes, of members of minority communities, and Albanians perceived to be collaborators, at a KLA compound at Jablanica/Jablanicë.

    November 07, 2012

    The Bahraini authorities today stripped 31 opposition figures of their Bahraini nationality in a move described by Amnesty International as “frightening and chilling”.

    A Ministry of Interior statement indicated that the group, including politicians, activists and religious figures, had their nationality revoked because they had caused “damage to state security”.

    The ruling means that those members of the group who only held Bahraini nationality are now stateless.

    “The authorities have provided the vaguest of reasons for the deprivation of nationality, which appears to have been taken on the basis of the victims’ political views,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Most worryingly, the authorities are making some in the group stateless. This, as well as any arbitrary deprivation of nationality, is prohibited under international law.

    “We urgently call on the Bahraini authorities to rescind this frightening and chilling decision.”

    October 25, 2012

    Members of the Thai security forces who are responsible for the deaths of 85 protesters eight years ago today at Tak Bai in southern Thailand must be brought to justice, Amnesty International said.

    It was on 25 October 2004 that security forces opened fire on protesters demonstrating outside Tak Bai police station in the southern province of Narathiwat.

    Seven were shot dead, and a further 78 were crushed or suffocated to death in army vans transporting them to a military detention camp.

    “It is shameful that no one has been brought to justice for these deaths, and that there is virtual impunity for other serious human rights violations in the ongoing internal armed conflict in the south,” said Isabelle Arradon, Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia Program.

    “Unfortunately, this case highlights the serious problem of state impunity that currently prevails in the south and throughout the country.”

    October 25, 2012

    All peaceful activists and other prisoners of conscience detained in Syria must be set free, Amnesty International said today after a mass amnesty was granted ahead of the Eid al-Adha religious festival. 

    On Tuesday, President Bashar al-Assad announced a general amnesty, reducing or eliminating prison terms for most crimes.

    But as the amnesty did not cover anyone who had not yet been charged, it excluded many people currently held merely for exercising their basic rights such as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, or for providing medical treatment or humanitarian assistance. It also excluded anyone who had been charged or convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2 July, which has in some cases has been used to imprison peaceful activists.

    “This is the sixth amnesty decree to be issued since last year. Yet hundreds of peaceful activists, aid workers, lawyers, doctors and journalists will again be excluded – ironically in part because in many cases they are being held for prolonged periods without charge,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

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