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International Justice

    July 06, 2011

    An Angolan human rights activist arbitrarily detained without charge in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than two weeks must be released immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    Agostinho Chicaia, an environmentalist and former president of the banned Angolan human rights organization Mpalabanda, was arrested in Kinshasa on 20 June, apparently in connection with an attack on the Togolese football team last year.

    The Congolese authorities have told Amnesty International that they are detaining him on an international arrest warrant for 25 individuals wanted on terrorism offences by the Angolan government.

    “Agostinho Chicaia has been arbitrarily detained for more than two weeks now without charge. The Congolese immigration police have told us that they will release him if instructed to do so by the Angolan authorities. The authorities in Angola must intervene immediately to ensure his release, “said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s Angola researcher.

    July 05, 2011

    The Netherlands was responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslims during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a local appeals court in The Hague has ruled today.

    The case is the first time that an individual government has been held to account for the conduct of its peacekeeping troops carrying out a UN mandate.

    The court ruled that on 10 July 1995 Dutch troops serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica allowed the three to leave a “safe area”, effectively handing them over to Bosnian Serb forces, who went on to kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the genocide.  

    “Up to now, states have behaved as if their peacekeepers operate with absolute immunity. This decision establishes that no international peacekeeper can avoid responsibility for crimes under international law,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy.

    The civil suit against the Dutch government was brought by relatives of three men killed in the Srebrenica genocide.

    June 30, 2011

    An independent commission set up by the King of Bahrain to investigate alleged human rights abuses during recent protests in the country is a significant step forward but must lead to justice for the victims, Amnesty International said today.
    An independent commission set up by the King of Bahrain to investigate alleged human rights abuses during recent protests in the country is a significant step forward but must lead to justice for the victims, Amnesty International said today.

    The five member investigation panel comprises individuals of internationally-recognized independence, integrity and expertise. It is expected to report on its findings in October.

    June 27, 2011

    Nigerian armed groups must stop attacking civilians, Amnesty International said today, after as many as 30 people were killed in a bomb attack blamed on the religious sect Boko Haram.

    Motorcyclists hurled bombs into a beer garden killing up to 30 people in Maiduguri, Borno State, in the northeast of the country on Sunday, before shooting into the crowd. Several people were injured in a fresh bombing on Monday, also believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram.

    The attacks are the latest in a series of bombings targeting civilians blamed on Boko Haram, an armed group which seeks to establish Sharia law in parts of Nigeria.

    “These killings are senseless and outrageous. Direct attacks on civilians are prohibited under international law and show a complete disregard for the right to life,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    June 27, 2011

    The head of Egypt’s military intelligence has promised Amnesty International that the army will no longer carry out forced ‘virginity tests’ after defending their use, during a meeting with the organisation in Cairo on Sunday.

    Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), discussed the issue with Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty months after the organization publicized allegations of the forced ‘tests’.  

    Major General al-Sisi said that ‘virginity tests’ had been carried out on female detainees in March to "protect" the army against possible allegations of rape, but that such forced tests would not be carried out again. He also added that army would avoid detaining women in the future.  

    He noted that women seeking to work for the army are required to undertake ‘virginity tests’.
     

    "The Major General’s comments must translate into unequivocal instructions to army staff that women are never forced to undergo this treatment again in Egypt,” said Amnesty International.
     

    June 27, 2011

    Colonel M’uammar al-Gaddafi and other senior Libyan government figures must be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for alleged serious human rights crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    ICC judges today approved warrants for the arrest of al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and military intelligence chief Abdallah al-Sanussi for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

    “Justice must be delivered to the victims of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed in Libya during and following the brutal repression of pro-reform protests earlier this year,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. 

    “Al-Gaddafi and others who are accused of orchestrating this bloody crackdown must be held to account.”

    Al-Gaddafi is accused of ordering a wave of killings and enforced disappearances of suspected critics of the government after protests against his rule began in February in Benghazi, inspired by mass protests across the Middle East and North Africa.

    June 26, 2011


    Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty today met Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Head of the Military Intelligence Department and member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and Deputy Prime Minister Yehia El Gamal at the end of his weeklong visit to Egypt.
     

    Amnesty International welcomed positive steps such as the release of administrative detainees and called for an end to emergency legislation, military trials for civilians, and all forms of abuses in policing operations and detention, including forced virginity tests.

    Amnesty International also stressed the need for ensuring accountability for abuses.


    Major General al-Sisi explained the need to change the culture of the security forces and gave assurances that instructions had been given not to use violence against demonstrators and to protect detainees against ill-treatment. He said virginity tests were carried out to protect the army against possible allegations of rape and added that the army does not intend to detain women again. Amnesty Ínternational opposes forced virginity tests under all circumstances.
     

    June 25, 2011

    Associates of Ai Weiwei who had been subjected to enforced disappearance along with the Chinese artist since April have been released, according to media reports today.

    Wen Tao, Hu Mingfen and Liu Zhenggang were reportedly freed late on Thursday or early Friday, following the release of Ai and his cousin earlier in the week. Their families had never been informed of their whereabouts or legal status.

    “While these releases are an important step and good news for those freed, it is essential that the international community remain focusedon the many other lesser known individuals whose situation remains a serious cause for concern,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    Ai Weiwei and his business associates were just a few of least 130 activists, lawyers, bloggers and low level ‘netizens’ who have been detained, forcibly disappeared, harassed and imprisoned within their homes since February.

    Other activists who remain in detention include Tang Jingling, a Guangdong based lawyer who has been missing since 22 February, reportedly under residential surveillance for "inciting subversion".

    June 25, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities must earn the trust of the people by abolishing repressive laws and ending abusive practices, the Secretary General of Amnesty International said today in Cairo.

    Speaking after his week-long visit to Egypt, his first official trip to the Middle East and North Africa, Salil Shetty called on the Egyptian authorities, including the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to use the post-Mubarak transition period to carry out urgent reforms and lift new repressive steps such as the law banning strikes and the use of military trials against civilians.

    “This is an incredible moment of opportunity for the Egyptian authorities to show they have made a clean break with past abuses,” said Salil Shetty. “And there have been some important encouraging steps, including the release of administrative detainees, the dissolution of the old State Security Investigation Services and the commitment for Egypt to become a party to the International Criminal Court.”

    June 23, 2011

    Romania’s poorest and most disadvantaged citizens cannot access adequate housing because of the country’s legal system, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today.

    Mind the legal gap: Roma and the right to housing in Romania documents the stories of Roma individuals and communities across the country and highlights the need for human rights reforms to laws governing housing.

    “Widespread intolerance and prejudice against Roma combined with the lack of adequate housing laws have given local officials carte blanche to openly discriminate against them,” said Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Romania.

    “The human right to adequate housing is not recognized or adequately protected in Romanian law. This can affect every citizen of Romania, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized,” added Barbora Cernusakova.

    June 23, 2011

    Three of artist Ai Weiwei’s associates are still missing, presumed in secret detention, despite the conditional release of Ai and his cousin into house arrest, Amnesty International said today. 

    The Chinese authorities have refused to provide any information about the whereabouts of Wen Tao, Hu Mingfen and Liu Zhenggang since they went missing in early April, the same week that their employer and associate Ai Weiwei was detained without charge. 

    The desperate families of the missing three even attempted to persuade police to open kidnapping investigations to locate them, after months of silence from the authorities.

    “The longer these three are missing, the more we fear for their safety, especially given that Ai Weiwei himself has already been released on bail,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific. 

    June 23, 2011

    New mass rapes by members of the Congolese army in the Democratic Republic of Congo are the result of the government’s failure to bring human rights abusers to justice, Amnesty International said today.  

    New reports have emerged that fighters of a former armed group integrated into the Congolese army, deserted from an army training camp and raped possibly up to 100 women, in an attack in the village of Nyakiele near the town of Fizi in the east of the country, on the night of 11 June.

    Members of this armed group were previously implicated in mass rape in the same area in January 2011.  

    “The inability of the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring to justice members of its own army and armed groups for crimes under international law, has fostered a culture of impunity, leading to attack after attack against civilians,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.

    According to local sources, a senior officer of the Congolese army, Colonel Kifaru Niragiye, had learnt he was to be demoted after a training course at Kananda military training centre in South Kivu.  

    June 23, 2011

    A proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Côte d’Ivoire must be expanded to cover serious human rights violations committed since 2002, Amnesty International said today.

    ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested an investigation today into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after a disputed presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2010. The ICC judges have yet to open the investigation.

    “It’s a positive step for the ICC to focus on serious human rights abuses in Côte d’Ivoire, but limiting it to the recent post-election violence would deny justice to hundreds of women who suffered rape and other sexual violence since 2002,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Program Director.

    For nearly a decade, Amnesty International has extensively documented systematic violations by security forces and armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire.

    In particular, widespread rape and other sexual violence against women and girls amount to crimes against humanity. Endemic impunity has meant that the perpetrators of these crimes on both sides of the conflict have not been brought to account. 

    June 22, 2011

    Ai Weiwei’s release on bail by the Chinese government must not ease the international outcry about other activists detained during this year’s ‘Jasmine’ crackdown, Amnesty International said today. 

    According to Chinese state media, Ai Weiwei was released "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.” 

    The renowned artist had been detained without charge since 3 April.

    Ai Weiwei’s  release coincides with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to UK and Germany, countries where Ai has strong professional ties and public support.

    “His release on bail can be seen as a tokenistic move by the government to deflect mounting criticism.” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific.

    “It is vital that the international outcry over Ai Weiwei be extended to those activists still languishing in secret detention or charged with inciting subversion.”

    June 22, 2011

    The Venezuelan government must not commit human rights abuses in quelling violent prison riots, Amnesty International said today, after 19 prisoners died in clashes between armed inmates and National Guard troops.

    The authorities have a duty to maintain control of its prisons and ensure prisoners are not put at risk.

    Groups of armed prisoners at El Rodeo II prison in Guatire, 40 km from the capital Caracas, have been engaged in a stand-off with security forces for several days. Members of the National Guard went into the prison on 17 June to disarm prisoners following clashes that broke out between rival gangs on 12 June at the adjacent El Rodeo I prison.

    “Yet another explosion of violence in a Venezuelan prison points to the appalling prison conditions that have persisted in the country for many years and the failure of the authorities to adequately address the situation,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Americas Division.

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