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    September 19, 2012

    A decision by Italy’s High Court to uphold the convictions against 22 CIA agents and a US military official for the abduction in Italy in 2003 of the Egyptian national Usama Mostafa Hassan Nasr (known as Abu Omar) is a step towards ending impunity.

    After being seized Usama Mostafa Hassan Nasr was transferred to Egypt where he was tortured. The court also ruled that five senior Italian secret service agents, whose cases had previously been dimissed, should be tried for their role in the abduction.
    Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, said: 

    "This important decision decision is another step towards accountability for violations that took place during the US rendition operations. We are especially satisfied that the High Court has sent the cases of the Italian intelligence officials back for retrial. The High Court has recognised that blanket claims of state secrecy cannot be used to shield the government from accountability for human rights violations."

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    September 14, 2012

    Countries neighbouring Syria must ensure that refugees who are stranded on their borders are allowed to find sanctuary, Amnesty International said.

    The organization wrote to the Turkish and Iraqi authorities calling on them to open all border crossings to refugees from Syria, after both nations continued to prevent access to safety for those fleeing the escalating violence by delaying entry to their territories.

     “Civilians have born the brunt of large-scale crimes against humanity, war crimes and other human rights abuses committed in Syria, and any obstacles or delays in allowing refugees to reach a place of safety would place them at risk of further serious human rights abuses in breach of international law," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Amnesty International calls upon countries neighbouring Syria to keep their borders open to those fleeing the conflict, and urges all countries in the region and elsewhere to ensure they do not force anyone to return.

    September 14, 2012

    The Cuban authorities must either explain why they failed to release detainee Jorge Vázquez Chaviano as scheduled on 9 September or let him go immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said amid an ongoing hunger strike by 26 dissidents in solidarity with their colleague.

    Vázquez Chaviano, who is a member of the organization “Central Opposition Coalition” (Coalición Central Opositora), was charged with “unlawful economic activities” and sentenced to 18 months “correctional work without internment” in March 2011.

    He believed the sentence to be politically motivated and a means of punishing his dissident activities.

    “The justice system in Cuba is highly arbitrary and unfair for those deemed to be dissidents, but the failure to release prisoners on completion of their sentence is unusual and this is a worrying development,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International's Cuba researcher.

    September 14, 2012

    The Egyptian government should immediately withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and arrest him if he travels to Cairo, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Al-Bashir is due to meet President Mohamed Morsi and other top Egyptian officials as part of a two-day visit beginning on 16 September.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.

    “If Egypt welcomes Omar Al-Bashir it will become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”, said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager.

    “Egypt should not allow Omar Al-Bashir to enter its territory, and must arrest him if he arrives.”

    September 12, 2012

    The killing of at least four people including the US Ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stephens, in an attack on the US consulate compound in Benghazi that left several more injured is an inexcusable act and the perpetrators must be brought to justice, Amnesty International said.

    According to information gathered by Amnesty International, attacks against the US consulate in Benghazi in eastern Libyan by armed men began in the evening of 11 September and lasted for some two hours.

    Attackers are believed to have used RPGs and anti-aircraft weapons and continued to target consulate staff as they attempted to flee and make their way to the compound that houses their living quarters.

    The attacks resulted in the death of at least four people including the US Ambassador who was on a visit to Benghazi at the time. Police and other security officers were reportedly overwhelmed and fled the scene.

    September 12, 2012

    The death of a Yemeni man in his 11th year of detention without charge or trial at the Guantánamo Bay naval base highlights the urgent need for the US authorities to resolve outstanding detainee cases and close the detention centre once and for all, Amnesty International said.

    On Monday US military authorities announced that a detainee had died at Guantánamo on the afternoon of 8 September, but withheld the man’s identity and nationality pending notification of his family. It has since been confirmed that the detainee was Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni national who had been held in the base since January 2002. He was the ninth Guantánamo inmate known to have died in custody in the decade since the US military began detention operations there.

    Amnesty International calls on the US authorities to urgently resolve the cases of the 167 men still held at Guantánamo, in ways fully consistent with international human rights principles.

    September 11, 2012

    The Iraqi authorities must urgently launch a thorough, impartial investigation into a wave of bomb attacks and shootings across Iraq on Sunday which reportedly killed at least 81 people, many of them civilians, and left scores more injured, Amnesty International said.

    The apparently coordinated attacks in multiple cities appear to have targeted Iraqi civilians. Members of the security and armed forces also seemed to have been targeted. Car bomb explosions in several, predominantly Shi’a areas were among the deadliest attacks. 

    “This horrific wave of attacks shows an utter disregard for humanity – the Iraqi authorities must ensure an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation is carried out and those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 11, 2012

    The acquittal of Pastor Yousef Naderkhani in a re-trial in Iran’s northern Gilan province demonstrates just why the Iranian authorities must guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in Iran, Amnesty International said.

    “We welcome the acquittal of Yousef Naderkhani but he should have never been arrested, let alone charged and tried,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “His arrest on 13 October 2009 in connection with his objection to an educational requirement that all children learn the Qur'an - which he considered to be unconstitutional - should not have led to almost three years of imprisonment.

    “His trial at the end of September 2011 on the charge of apostasy – which is not even an offence in Iran’s current Penal Code – put the lie to Iran's claims that it tolerates religious minorities,” she added.

    September 11, 2012

    Charges against two journalists detained after they applied for permission to hold a peaceful protest over the executions of nine death row inmates must be dropped by the Gambian authorities, Amnesty International said.

    Baboucarr Ceesay, the First Vice President of The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and Abubacarr Saidykhan, an independent freelance journalist, were charged on 10 September with conspiracy to commit a felony.

    The two journalists were released on bail yesterday and must report to the police headquarters on Monday 17 September.

    They had been arrested three days earlier after they applied to the Gambian police to demonstrate peacefully against the August executions of nine death row inmates.

    “This is yet another example of the Gambian government’s total intolerance of criticism,” said Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher.

    The letter which led to the arrest of the journalists was addressed to the Inspector General of Police and entitled: "Application for a permit to hold a peaceful demonstration."

    September 07, 2012

    On the eve of the 5th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, leaders of organizations respected for their defense of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Colombia will hold a press conference on Parliament Hill to call for urgently needed action.

    WHO:  Luis Evelis Andrade, Chief Counsellor, National Indigenous Organization of Colombia
    Anne Marie Sam, founder of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining, Canada
    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    WHEN:  Wednesday, September 12th, 10 AM
    WHERE:  Charles Lynch 130S Centre Block

    September 13, 2012 marks five years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The Declaration recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples to manage their own lands, territories and resources as part of the minimum standards necessary to ensure the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous peoples.

    September 05, 2012

    Abdullah al-Senussi, military intelligence chief for Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, should have been surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today amid reports that Mauritanian authorities had extradited him to Libya.

    In June 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Senussi, as well as Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, on two counts of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution – allegedly committed in the eastern Libyan port city of Benghazi in February 2011.

    Al-Senussi had been in Mauritanian custody since March 2012, when he was arrested at the airport in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.

    In July, Mauritania’s Minister of Justice asserted to Amnesty International that al-Senussi had entered the country illegally and was being held in good conditions. He added that the Mauritanian government was considering extradition requests made by Libya and France and the surrender request by the ICC. It has not been possible to determine whether he has had access to a lawyer, an independent doctor of his own choice and ICC staff.

    September 04, 2012

    The decision by Bahrain’s appeal court to uphold sentences against 13 opposition activists and prisoners of conscience is outrageous and the authorities must ensure it is overturned and the activists immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said.

    The High Criminal Court of Appeal in Bahrain on Tuesday upheld the convictions and sentences of the 13 men, who were convicted last year before military courts on charges related to anti-government protests. Amnesty International sent a trial observer to Bahrain who was present in court.

    “Today’s court decision is another blow to justice and it shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform but seem rather driven by vindictiveness”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    September 04, 2012

    Guatemalan ex-officials who fled to Europe to escape allegations of involvement in extrajudicial executions must face justice, Amnesty International said today.

    On Monday night a court in Geneva ordered that Erwin Sperisen – Guatemala’s former National Director of Police – remain for at least three months in administrative detention as he faces trial for murder charges stemming from his time in that role from 2004 to 2007.

    Swiss authorities had arrested Sperisen – who cannot be extradited to Guatemala because he also holds Swiss nationality – on Friday, 31 August. He faces charges linked to a number of alleged extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the Guatemalan police force under his command.

    Other Guatemalan former officials believed to be in Europe – including in Austria and Spain – have yet to be held to account for alleged crimes committed in the Central American country.

    August 31, 2012

     

    (New York, August 31, 2012) – President Ram Baran Yadav of Nepal should return an executive ordinance that would effectively permit amnesty for crimes committed during the country’s civil war from 1996 to 2006, four human rights groups said today in a letter to the president. The president should return the ordinance to the government and remind it of its obligations under both national and international law to prosecute acts that constitute crimes under international law, the groups said.

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and TRIAL (Swiss Association against Impunity) obtained a copy of the ordinance on August 28, 2012. It proposes the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation with absolute discretion to recommend the granting of amnesties for serious human rights violations, including crimes under international law. The cabinet delivered the ordinance directly to President Yadav without any consultation – either with the public or the National Human Rights Commission.

    August 29, 2012

    Amnesty International condemns an Israeli court’s verdict that the government of Israel bears no responsibility in the death of Rachel Corrie, saying the verdict continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

    The verdict shields Israeli military personnel from accountability and ignores deep flaws in the Israeli military’s internal investigation of Corrie’s death.

    “Rachel Corrie was a peaceful American protester who was killed while attempting to protect a Palestinian home from the crushing force of an Israeli military bulldozer,” said Sanjeev Bery, Middle East and North Africa advocacy director for Amnesty International USA.

    “More than nine years after Corrie’s death, the Israeli authorities still have not delivered on promises to conduct a 'thorough, credible and transparent' investigation. Instead, an Israeli court has upheld the flawed military investigation and issued a verdict that once again shields the Israeli military from any accountability."

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