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International Justice

    September 07, 2011

    The Sri Lankan government’s inquiry into the country’s civil war is fundamentally flawed and provides no accountability for atrocities, according to a new Amnesty International report. 

    When will they get justice? exposes the shortcomings of the inquiry, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). These include its failure to properly pursue allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity levelled against both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

    “The Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation. Officials described it as a credible accountability mechanism, able to deliver justice and promote reconciliation. In reality it's flawed at every level: in mandate, composition and practice,” said Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi.

    The LLRC was established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2010, after he made a joint commitment to an accountability process in Sri Lanka alongside UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    September 02, 2011

    Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) should ensure that its military court respects basic fair trial standards and immediately halt executions, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The TFG should also prohibit trials of civilians in the military court, the organizations said. The transitional government’s international partners should firmly object to these serious human rights violations at the upcoming consultative meeting in Mogadishu.

    August 31, 2011

    A 14-year-old boy was killed during a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain’s central town of Sitra today, where dozens of demonstrators took part in anti-government protests marking the feast of ‘Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

    ‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh died from a head injury after being hit by a tear gas canister thrown by riot police, a local human rights group said.

    “This tragic death occurred during a peaceful protest where police appear to have used excessive force against people demonstrating against the government,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The police have a duty to uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to throw heavy gas canisters at children. The authorities must investigate ‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh’s death immediately in a thorough, independent and impartial manner, and those responsible must be held to account,” he added.

    August 31, 2011

    The conviction of seven high-ranking former officials in Bolivia for their role in dozens of deaths during anti-government protests in 2003 is an important step for justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Bolivia’s Supreme Court in Sucre yesterday sentenced five former senior military officers and two former ministers for their part in the events known as “Black October,” which left 67 people dead and more than 400 injured during protests in El Alto, near La Paz, in late 2003.

    The clashes included soldiers opening fire on unarmed crowds during demonstrations sparked by opposition to a proposed pipeline to export natural gas through neighbouring Chile.

    ”These convictions are an important victory for the families of those killed and injured who have waited nearly eight years to see justice delivered after the tragic events know as  ‘Black October,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    The five military officers have received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years, while the two former ministers were sentenced to three years.

    August 30, 2011

     Authorities in Pakistan must urgently end the widespread practice of enforced disappearance and ensure anyone detained has full access to lawyers and the courts, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    “The Pakistan government has made little progress in resolving hundreds of cases of alleged disappearance, while new incidents are being reported around the country,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

    The briefing, The Bitterest of Agonies: End enforced disappearances in Pakistan, published on the International Day of the Disappeared, highlights the plight of hundreds of people who have been arbitrarily detained and held in secret facilities in Pakistan since late 2001, when the country became a key ally in the US-led “war on terror”.

    The whereabouts of all of these victims remains unknown.

    People accused of involvement in terrorism and political opponents of the Pakistani government – such as members of Pakistan’s Sindhi and Baloch nationalist groups – are among the groups increasingly subjected to enforced disappearance.

    August 29, 2011

    Key prison records and other documentation are at risk of being lost as sites remain unsecure and documents destroyed or taken away in Libya, Amnesty International warned today.
     

    The Transitional National Council (NTC) authorities must protect such evidence where it is found or collect it in a central repository for safe-keeping. They should also appeal to those individuals who have taken any such documents to return them to the authorities as soon as possible.


    "Prison records and other physical evidence may be critical for any forthcoming trials for crimes committed under the rule of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.


    "In addition, they could help shedding light on the fate of the many prisoners who have ‘disappeared’ in Libyan prisons in the last few decades, including many thousands taken prisoner by pro-al-Gaddafi forces since the beginning of the uprising.”
     

    When Amnesty International visited Abu Salim Prison on 28 August, it found documents scattered on the ground in the courtyard of the prison, and in bags stored inside at least two rooms.

    August 26, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Brazilian authorities to revoke a law that prevents the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for hundreds of cases of human rights violations.

    The 1979 Amnesty Law, which came into effect on 28 August that year, prevents those responsible for the widespread practice of torture, extra-legal executions, enforced disappearances and rape committed during the 1964-1985 military government from being tried for those crimes.

    “This law is a scandal and doing nothing but preventing justice,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International. “By upholding a law that allows crimes such as torture and murder to go unpunished, Brazil is falling behind other countries in the region that have made serious efforts to deal with these issues.”

    “The fact that crimes including torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and rape committed in the past were allowed to go unpunished has denied victims and their families the right to truth, justice and reparation.”

    August 25, 2011

    Peru’s new Congress has passed a law that will for the first time make it mandatory to seek Indigenous Peoples’ consent before development projects are allowed to go ahead on their ancestral lands.

    The Consultation with Indigenous Peoples Law, which was unanimously approved on Tuesday, requires government consultations with Indigenous Peoples before companies can begin projects like digging mines, drilling for oil or building dams. Indigenous Peoples must also be consulted before Congress can approve any proposed law that could affect their rights.

    Leading Indigenous Peoples’ organizations were involved in negotiating the law and have fought for its passage since 2009. Although Congress approved an agreed version of the bill last year, former President Alan García vetoed it.

    “This law, which respects the main consensus reached with the Indigenous Peoples’ organizations during the previous legislature, opens a welcome new chapter in the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and the Peruvian authorities,” said Susan Lee, Americas Program Director at Amnesty International.

    August 24, 2011

    The Bangladesh authorities must honour their pledge to stop extrajudicial executions by a special police force accused of involvement in hundreds of killings, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    Crimes unseen: Extrajudicial executions in Bangladesh also documents how the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) justify these killings as accidental or as a result of officers acting in self-defence, although in reality many victims are killed following their arrest.

    “Hardly a week goes by in Bangladesh without someone being shot by RAB with the authorities saying they were killed or injured in ‘crossfire’ or a ‘gun-fight’. However the authorities choose to describe such incidents, the fact remains that they are suspected unlawful killings,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    August 24, 2011

    The arrest of a former senior Russian police official in connection with the murder of journalist and human rights defender Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 is a major step forward, Amnesty International said today.

    Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of organizing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya on 7 October 2006 in Moscow. He had previously been named as a key witness in her case.

    Rustam Makhmudov, who was arrested in Chechnya in May 2011, has been charged with her murder. He is the brother of two of the three men acquitted of murdering Anna Politikovskaya in February 2009, following which the Russian Supreme Court sent the case back for further investigation.  

    For over a decade, Anna Politkovskaya spoke out against human rights violations in Chechnya and the North Caucasus in general.

    August 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged all sides in Libya to protect the rights of civilians and safeguard them from attack as forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) continued to battle for control of the capital, Tripoli.

    NTC forces said earlier that they had captured some of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's sons, including Saif al-Islam who, like his father, was recently indicted for alleged crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    "These are momentous but extremely dangerous days for the people of Libya. All forces must respect the rights of civilians and ensure that the fighting in Tripoli and elsewhere does not result in reprisals," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.

    "NTC forces must make sure that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi is treated humanely and handed over safely to the ICC without delay to face trial, as should Colonel al-Gaddafi be if he is captured or surrenders."

    Forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi are involved in heavy fighting with NTC forces around the Colonel's compound in Tripoli.

    August 22, 2011

    Hundreds of families in Angola’s southern city of Lubango could be left destitute, as authorities prepare to demolish their homes on Thursday to build a new road.

    Local authorities have offered to relocate some 750 families in the Arco Iris area to an isolated area outside the city centre without access to public transport, schools and medical services, water, electricity or sanitation.

    The Lubango city administrator wrote to the residents of Arco Iris on 29 June, ordering them to leave the area within 30 days.

    “Pushing people out of their homes at such short notice and forcing them to live in a remote area without basic amenities is cruel and unnecessary. It is also in violation of international law, which requires that all other feasible alternatives to eviction are explored together with the local communities,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    "Once again, the Angolan authorities are uprooting families without providing adequate alternative housing. They have got to put a stop to the planned forced eviction of the Arco Iris families.

    August 21, 2011

    The Iranian authorities must release two US citizens following a deeply flawed trial, Amnesty International said today,  after the men were sentenced to eight years in prison by a Tehran court on charges of “espionage” and” illegally entry”.

    Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were arrested while hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area in July 2009, were each given three years for allegedly entering Iran illegally and five years for spying, according to Iran’s state media.

    “The conduct of this trial has quite simply made a mockery of justice. There does not appear to be any substance to the allegations that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are spies,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director.

    “The way this case has been handled from the outset strongly suggests that they are being held as a bargaining chip to allow Iran to obtain unspecified concessions from the US government,” he added.

    No evidence to suggest Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were conducting espionage is known to have been presented in court.

    August 19, 2011

    Côte d’Ivoire’s new government must ensure that the compensation paid out by the oil-trading corporate group Trafigura reaches the thousands of victims affected by a toxic waste dumping in 2006, Amnesty International said today, on the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

    Trafigura has paid US$260 million in a number of payouts but much of the money remains unaccounted for and thousands of victims have not received anything.

    “It is unacceptable that so many people who were affected by the dumping have not received the compensation money they are entitled to,” said Benedetta Lacey, Amnesty International’s special advisor on corporate accountability.

    “These payouts have been dogged by repeated delays and a lack of transparency. President Ouattara’s government must act decisively to show that corruption and misappropriation of funds will not be tolerated.”

    The dumping of toxic waste five years ago, in 2006, affected more than 100,000 people in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital.

    August 17, 2011

    For more than nine years, two Indigenous women in Mexico have taken on the military and the authorities to demand justice after they were raped by soldiers in the southern state of Guerrero in 2002.

    Despite a lengthy investigation and Inter-American Court rulings in favour of Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú last August, their attackers have remained at large, seemingly shielded by Mexico’s military justice system. Meanwhile the women and their families have faced threats as the legal battle continued.

    But on 12 August, Fernández and Rosendo were given some hope that the soldiers who raped them might finally be brought to justice.

    The investigations into their cases have now been moved to civilian courts, after Mexico’s Military Prosecutor’s office recognized it lacks the jurisdiction to prosecute cases where members of the armed forces are accused of committing human rights violations.

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