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International Justice

    May 26, 2011


    The arrest of alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic is a major step towards justice, Amnesty International said today as the Bosnian Serb former general was flown to The Hague to face trial on genocide charges.

    Ratko Mladic was indicted by International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1995 including his alleged role in the killing of around 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica.

    He is also accused of responsibility for the shelling and sniping of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, which resulted in the death and injury of thousands of civilians.

    Charges against the former Bosnian Serb general also include complicity in genocide, persecutions, extermination and murder, deportation and inhumane acts, unlawfully inflicting terror upon civilians, murder, cruel treatment, attacks on civilians and the taking of hostages.

    Mladic was arrested in Vojvodina, a northern province of Serbia in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    May 26, 2011

    Amnesty International has obtained video footage that points to a “shoot to kill” policy being used by the Syrian security forces to quell reform protests.

    The footage, smuggled out of Syria by contacts of Amnesty International, shows protesters shot and beaten by security forces, soldiers conducting a night raid on the ‘Omari mosque in Dera’a and a mass funeral in Izraa.

    “These extraordinary images were taken by Syrians who have risked their lives to document the callous attempts of the authorities to terrorize the pro-reform movement from going out onto the streets,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Faced with this and other compelling evidence of rampant abuses, President Bashar al-Assad must stop the Syrian security forces shooting unarmed protesters and ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their treatment of fellow Syrians.”

    The video includes scenes of:

    May 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to prosecute all those responsible for the killings of anti-government protesters, after it was announced that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are to stand trial.

    The three, along with Mubarak's ally Hussein Salem have been charged with "premeditated murder of some participants in the peaceful protests of the January 2011 revolution," Egypt's public prosecutor said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

    "The families of those killed during protest violence have a right to justice as do all those who were seriously injured or subjected to arbitrary detention or torture, including at the hands of the military," said Amnesty International

    "That Mr. Mubarak and his sons are to stand trial is a very welcome step but all those found responsible for the killings and other human rights violations, such as torture, must face prosecution and must be held accountable."

    May 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has declared Russian businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev prisoners of conscience after the two men’s convictions on money laundering were today upheld by a Moscow court.

    The Moscow City Court reduced the sentences of the two men from 13 ½ years’ imprisonment to 12 but failed to address any of the serious procedural violations that have marred the criminal proceedings from the outset of the investigation.

    “Whatever the rights and wrongs of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev’s first convictions there can no longer be any doubt that their second trial was deeply flawed and politically motivated,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “For several years now these two men have been trapped in a judicial vortex that answers to political not legal considerations.  Today’s verdict makes it clear that Russia’s lower courts are unable, or unwilling, to deliver justice in their cases.”

    “The Supreme Court offers the last possible hope for justice. Their convictions must be overturned and the two men released on the expiry of their current sentences”.

    May 23, 2011

    New European Union sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should prompt the UN and Arab League to take tougher action against Syria over its violent crackdown against protesters, Amnesty International said today.  

    The European Union today imposed fresh sanctions on Syria, including personal asset freezes and travel bans on President al-Assad and other senior government figures.  

    “We welcome the measures that the EU and the US government have now taken against President al-Assad and those around him, but the danger is that this will prove to be too little too late,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The UN Security Council must now take more determined action on Syria and follow the precedent it set when Colonel al-Gaddafi’s government began attacking its own people in Libya.”

    “This is precisely what the Syrian government has been doing for weeks and it is high time that the Security Council also referred Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”

    May 20, 2011

    Uruguay has missed a historic opportunity in the pursuit of justice for victims of human rights abuses committed during military rule by failing to overturn a controversial law that blocked prosecution of security officials accused of violations, Amnesty International said today.

    Uruguayan politicians were today unable to reach an agreement to annul the effects of the 1986 Expiry Law, a move that Amnesty International and Uruguayan human rights activists and relatives of the victims have repeatedly called for.  
     
    “This would have been a huge step forward for the victims of egregious human rights abuses committed during Uruguay’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director of the Americas programme at Amnesty International.

    “Uruguay has a moral and legal obligation to provide justice to those who suffered from torture and other abuses – not to protect their torturers from investigation and trial.”

    May 19, 2011

    The US President must use his speech on the Middle East to commit to the pursuit of a more even-handed approach to Arab states, one which has the protection and promotion of human rights at its heart, Amnesty International said today.

    Barack Obama is set to make the speech, his first major address following the wave of mass protests that has swept the Middle East and North Africa, later today.

    “The US President must make clear that the US has learnt from the mistakes of the past when it supported governments such as those in Egypt and Tunisia whose claim to provide ‘political stability’ was based on widescale repression and abuse of human rights,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director

    “The US administration has rightly condemned the gross abuses that have been committed by Colonel al-Gaddafi's forces in Libya and the Assad government in Syria, and continuing repression in Iran.”

    May 19, 2011

    The Jammu and Kashmir authorities must immediately release or charge a teenage anti-government protester who was rearrested this week after spending three months in administrative detention, Amnesty International said.

    Murtaza Manzoor, 17, was briefly released from prison on Wednesday after the High Court found that his administrative detention was unlawful. He was immediately rearrested by police.

    Amnesty International said it is likely that a repeat administrative detention order for Murtaza Manzoor will be passed, allowing police to detain him without charge or trial for up to two years.

    "The police in Jammu and Kashmir are playing a game with the judiciary. Courts order a person's release only for the police to wait outside prison to re-arrest them. This farce should stop," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    "Murtaza Manzoor must be released immediately, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence. If so, he should be remanded in custody by an independent court and his rights as a child should be recognized. The authorities must not order his repeat administrative detention."

    May 19, 2011

    The US military must allow a fully independent, civilian-led investigation into the death of a detainee at the US Naval Base at Guantánamo in Cuba, Amnesty International said today.

    US military authorities said that guards at the detention centre yesterday found the body of Inayatollah, a 37-year-old Afghan national. He was “unresponsive and not breathing” after what the guards concluded was an “apparent suicide.”

    A Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) investigation has been initiated to determine the circumstances and cause of his death. 

    “Previous investigations carried out by this service into detainee deaths have lacked independence and transparency,” said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director.

    According to the Pentagon, Inayatollah was transferred to Guantánamo in September 2007, one of the last detainee arrivals at the base. In a 2007 press release announcing his transfer, the military authorities stated that he had been taken to the Naval Base because of his “high placement in al Qaeda”. He was held without charge or trial at Guantánamo for nearly four years.

    May 18, 2011

    The Omani authorities must say where and why they are holding some six people arrested during a recent peaceful protest in the capital Muscat, Amnesty International said today, as more than two dozen others faced trial on protest-related charges.

    Fifteen people were arrested by Omani security forces on 14 May during a protest in Muscat calling for the release of others detained two days earlier in pro-reform protests.

    Prominent female lawyer Basma al-Kiyumi was released on 16 May, and on 17 May some eight other activists were released, among them Muhammad al-Habssi and Ibrahim Sa’id al-Hajri. It is not known where the remaining six – including Nabhan al-Hanashi – are, or if any charges have been brought against them

    “The authorities in Oman must immediately provide details on the whereabouts of all protesters being held and either charge them with a recognizable criminal offence or release them,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director.

    “If they are being detained solely for participating in a peaceful public protest they should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    May 18, 2011

     
    The trials of eight activists convicted over their involvement in pro-reform protests in Bahrain that began in February, were politically motivated and unfair, Amnesty International said today.

    A military court in Bahrain's capital city Manama has sentenced the eight activists, in two separate cases, to between one and four years imprisonment for "participating in illegal demonstrations and inciting hatred against the regime" during popular protests in February and March.

    One of the activists, Fadhila Mubarak Ahmad, is the first woman protester to be convicted as a result of the recent unrest in Bahrain. She was sentenced to four years' imprisonment.

    "These trials and convictions represent yet further evidence of the extent to which the rights to freedom of speech and assembly are now being denied in Bahrain," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for Middle East and North Africa.

    May 17, 2011

    The Myanmar government’s reduction of prison terms must be swiftly followed by the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said today.

    The Myanmar government said on Monday it had reduced by one year the sentences of all current prisoners and commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment.

    “While the reductions are welcome news for political prisoners, they are astonishingly insufficient”, said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar researcher. “These actions fall well short of the comprehensive release of all prisoners of conscience desperately needed in Myanmar”.

    Amnesty International also called upon Myanmar to go beyond commuting death sentences and join the worldwide trend towards the complete abolition of the death penalty. 

    While no death row prisoner in Myanmar is known to have been executed since 1988, the death penalty is still in the statute books and death sentences continue to be imposed.

    May 17, 2011

    The Syrian authorities must carry out a prompt, impartial investigation into reports that a number of bodies were unearthed near the city of Dera’a and into how those deaths occurred, Amnesty International said today.

    Sources have told Amnesty International that local residents on the outskirts of the southern city of Dera’a yesterday found a shallow, unmarked grave containing the bodies of at least five people – said to be 'Abd al-Razaq Abazaid and his four sons, Samer, Samir, Suliman and Mohamed Abazaid.

    The circumstances of the deaths and the total number of corpses remain unclear – some reports allege more than two dozen bodies have been found.

    “If true, these reports of multiple corpses buried in a makeshift grave show an appalling disregard for humanity,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “The Syrian authorities must immediately carry out independent and impartial investigations into these reports and other killings related to the recent pro-reform protests.”

    May 16, 2011

    The International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant for Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi is a step towards justice for the victims of human rights violations in Libya, Amnesty International said today.

    Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Monday he was seeking warrants for Al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and military intelligence chief Abdallah al-Sanussi on two types of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution.  

    “The request for arrest warrants is a step forward for international justice and accountability in the region,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy. “

    “However, the international community that came together in such unprecedented agreement to refer Libya to the International Criminal Court, cannot allow justice to appear selective. By any standard, what is happening in Syria is just as bad as the situation was in Libya when the Security Council referred that country to the ICC.”  

    Amnesty International’s research in Libya since February points to the commission of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes.  

    May 13, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to not carry out a sentence ordering a man to be blinded by having acid dropped in both eyes as part of a retribution punishment.

    Majid Movahedi was sentenced to “retribution in kind” (qesas) in 2008 after he poured a bucket of acid over Ameneh Bahrami, who had rejected his marriage proposal several times.

    A Tehran court ordered that five drops of acid be placed in each of his eyes and the sentence is reportedly due to be carried out on 14 May.

    “It is unbelievable that the Iranian authorities would consider implementing such a punishment,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Regardless of how horrific the crime suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, being blinded with acid is a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture, and the Iranian authorities have a responsibility under international law to ensure it does not go ahead.”

    On 3 November 2004, Majid Movahedi poured a bucket of acid on Ameneh Bahrami's head as she was leaving work, after she had rejected his marriage proposal several times.

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