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International Justice

    October 03, 2012

    The perpetrators of arson attacks on temples and Buddhist villages in the south of Bangladesh must be brought to justice and steps taken to ensure ethnic minorities are protected, Amnesty International said.

    More than 20 Buddhist temples and monasteries and at least one Hindu temple, along with scores of homes and shops, were set on fire during attacks in southern cities of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong over the weekend and on Monday after thousands of people protested against the posting of an allegedly derogatory image of the Quran on social network site Facebook.

    “The scale and ferocity of these appalling attacks on ethnic communities have shocked Muslims and non-Muslims alike and the entire civil society in the country. The Bangladeshi authorities must ensure this does not happen again,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher.

    “Amnesty International calls on the leaders of all political parties to condemn publicly the violence against minorities and urge their members not take part in such acts.”

    October 02, 2012

    President Mohamed Morsi has a historic opportunity to tackle the bloody legacy of police and army and guarantee that no one is above the law in Egypt, Amnesty International said in two new reports published today.

    Under the rule of the army, a raft of human rights abuses took place, including live ammunition being turned on demonstrators.
    The reports document unlawful killings, excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment against protesters by both the military and the police and are based on first-hand field investigations carried out during the rule of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

    Brutality unpunished and unchecked: Egypt’s military kills and torture protesters with impunity highlights patterns of violations at three key demonstrations, and documents the brutal crackdown unleashed by the army during the 16-month rule by  the SCAF.

    October 02, 2012

    Six medical staff - whose prison sentences for their role in last year's pro-reform uprising in Bahrain were upheld on Monday - have been arrested a day after Amnesty International called on the Bahraini government to refrain from jailing them.

    At the time of the arrests, their families and lawyers were not told where they were being taken.

    “Today's imprisonment once again marks the lack of any real commitment from Bahrain's government to be held accountable and deliver true justice for victims of human rights violations,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.

    “Despite the government’s claims that the medics committed a criminal offence, Amnesty International believes they have been jailed solely for peacefully exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and therefore they should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    The organization considers the six to be prisoners of conscience and has found no evidence that any of them used or advocated violence in their role in last year’s pro-reform demonstrations.


     

    October 01, 2012

    The convictions of nine health professionals sentenced to prison terms for their role in last year's pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain must be quashed by the authorities, Amnesty International said as it called on the Kingdom not to return them to jail.

    On Monday Bahrain’s Court of Cassation in Manama rejected appeals by the doctors and nurses against their convictions and upheld their sentences, which ranged from one month to five years in prison, reduced in June by an appeal court from five to 15 years’ imprisonment.

    “With today’s verdict, the Bahraini government has shown once more it is not serious about human rights and accountability for past violations,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.

    “The convictions against these doctors and nurses must be quashed immediately and all charges against them relating to their role in last year’s pro-reform demonstrations must be dropped.”

    October 01, 2012

    Iranian human rights defender and lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah must be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said, after he was called to begin a nine-year prison sentence at Tehran’s Evin prison on Saturday.

    Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, co-founder of Iran’s Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), was sentenced in July last year after being convicted of charges including “membership of an association [the CHRD] seeking the soft overthrow of the government” and “spreading propaganda against the system through interviews with foreign media”.

    He was also banned from practising law and teaching for 10 years.

    "Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is the fourth member of the CHRD to have been imprisoned in the last 18 months.  He should never have been put on trial for his legitimate human rights activities - the Iranian authorities must overturn his conviction and sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    October 01, 2012

    The US military’s repatriation of detainee Omar Khadr from the Guantánamo Bay naval base to his native Canada is a small step towards ending the decade-long human rights vacuum at the US-run detention centre, Amnesty International said.

    Following his transfer to Canada on Saturday, the 26-year-old who was born in Toronto will remain in Canadian custody until he is eligible to apply for parole next summer.

    Held by the US military since his detention in Afghanistan at the age of 15 in 2002, Khadr was subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and then prosecuted in Guantánamo’s military commissions system, a system that fails to meet international fair trial standards.

    “Khadr's tragic story underscores why Guantánamo should close – not tomorrow, but today,” said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA's executive director.

    September 27, 2012

    The Swedish authorities should issue assurances to the UK and to Julian Assange that if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy and agrees to go to Sweden to face sexual assault claims, he will not be extradited to the USA in connection with Wikileaks, Amnesty International said.

    In the wake of the Wikileaks co-founder addressing the UN and with talks due between British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ecuadorian officials, Amnesty International added that it was time to break the impasse.

    “If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the USA if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts then this will hopefully achieve two things,” said Nicola Duckworth, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International.

    “First, it will break the current impasse and second it will mean the women who have levelled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice.

    September 27, 2012

    The US state of California must make substantial changes to their prison isolation units and halt the inhuman suffering of thousands of prisoners, Amnesty International said in a new report out today.

    The Edge of Endurance: Prison Conditions in California’s Security Housing Units, is based on exclusive access gained by Amnesty International to isolation units in California and explores the conditions of confinement endured by more than 3,000 thousand prisoners -- including 78 who have spent in excess of two decades in isolation.

    Prisoners in isolation are confined to at least 22 and a half hours a day in cells measuring fewer than eight square metres. In Pelican Bay State Prison, over 1,000 inmates are confined alone in windowless cells with poor access to natural light. Exercise is limited to and hour and a half a day, alone in a bare, concrete yard with 20 foot high walls with only a patch of sky visible through a partially meshed plastic roof.

    Prisoners in isolation don’t have access to work, rehabilitation program or group activities on any kind.

    September 25, 2012

    Yemen could face another human rights crisis unless the authorities act now to end persistent abuses in the country and take steps to address past violations, Amnesty International said today.

    In its 11-point agenda for human rights change in Yemen, Amnesty International said that human rights violations were still taking place in a climate of impunity, a long-standing problem further entrenched by the immunity granted to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his officials earlier this year.

    "The Yemeni authorities must define and implement a clear human rights agenda for change. This must include enlisting the assistance of the international community to set up a commission of inquiry into human rights violations during the events of 2011," said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    "The authorities should also amend and pass a draft transitional justice law currently on the table to ensure that it actually delivers justice for the victims of past human rights abuses."

    September 25, 2012

    Amnesty International has called today on the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of civil society members who participated at the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva after they received threats of reprisals for their participation in the meeting.

    Mohammed al-Maskati, the president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, has said he was subjected to intimidation before and after delivering a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 13 September, when he participated in a panel discussion on intimidation and reprisals against persons and organizations who co-operate with the UN. He told Amnesty International that from the date of his arrival in Geneva until after he delivered the speech he received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls in which the callers branded him a “traitor to his country” and an “agent of Iran” and allegedly threatened to kill him upon his return to Bahrain.

    September 24, 2012

    Almost four years to the day since Turkish activist Engin Çeber died in custody, a court will rule whether police and prison guards had a role in the torture that allegedly killed him.

    On 1 October the Bakırköy Court of First Instance will determine the involvement of 60 state officials in his death from severe head injuries in custody on 10 October 2008.

    The trial opened in February this year, several months after the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara overturned an earlier judgment which had convicted 19 police officers and prison guards over Engin Çeber’s death.

    “With this ruling the Turkish justice system is again facing a key test – the choice is between allowing the injustice of the past to persist or dealing a blow to impunity for torture and providing justice for Engin Çeber,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Death in custody

    Police in Istanbul arrested Engin Çeber on 28 September 2008 after he took part in a protest against a police shooting of another activist the year before.

    September 20, 2012

                Demolitions have tripled in three years, with villages in Hebron Hills now under threat

    The government of Israel’s eviction and demolition plans for 13 Palestinian villages in the Hebron Hills [1] come as demolition and displacement rates have hit a three-year high, adding to the uncertainty about the future for Palestinians living in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, a group of 30 aid, development, and human rights organizations* warned today.

    The communities are targeted for demolition or expulsion from the area as the government of Israel plans to use the land for the expansion of an Israeli settlement and to create a closed military zone [2].

    September 19, 2012

    Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

    The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

    September 19, 2012

     A new United Nations review of the human rights situation in Bahrain will have been a hollow exercise unless the Gulf kingdom follows it up with real action to implement its recommendations, Amnesty International said.

    On Wednesday the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Bahrain – a four-yearly report card on the country’s human rights record.

    Bahrain’s government has fully accepted more than 140 out of the 176 recommendations stemming from the review, including measures aimed at releasing prisoners of conscience, bolstering fair trial guarantees and investigating human rights violations committed during and after last year’s massive pro-reform protests.

    “We’ve already seen Bahrain pledge human rights reform on the world stage – after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, made up of international experts, published its findings last year – but the sad reality is that such pledges remain hollow without real action to back them up,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    September 19, 2012

    The Chadian government must stop using the judiciary to harass political opponents Amnesty International said today, after three trade unionists and a journalist received heavy suspended prison sentences and fines for initiating and publishing a petition.

    Michel Barka, Younous Mahadjir and François Djondang, all leading members of the Union of Chad Trade Unions (Union des syndicats du Tchad, UST), one of the biggest trade unions in the country, yesterday received 18-month suspended prison sentences and were each fined CFA 1,500,000 (US$3,000).

    Jean–Claude Nekim, journalist and director of publication for the bi-weekly newspaper N’Djamena Bi-Hebdo was also given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and fined CFA 1 million (US$2,000). The newspaper has also been banned for three months.

    The four men were found guilty of "incitement to racial hatred" and "defamation" in relation to the UST's petition published earlier this month. Jean–Claude Nekim was charged after N’Djamena Bi-Hebdo printed extracts from the petition.

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