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International Justice

    August 09, 2012

    The Israeli authorities must investigate allegations that two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in protest at their continued administrative detention have been ill-treated while in detention, Amnesty International said today.

    Hassan Safadi and Samer al-Barq have been on hunger strike since 21 June and 22 May respectively. Independent medical examinations conducted last week found that both men were weak and that they risk death if the hunger strikes continue.

    While they are barely able to stand and use wheelchairs for their daily needs, guards have repeatedly beaten and verbally abused them while in detention at the Israel Prison Service Medical Centre in the central city of Ramleh.

    Hassan Safadi’s health deteriorated on 6 August and he was transferred to Assaf Harofeh hospital, where he remains shackled to his bed – which constitutes degrading treatment prohibited under international human rights law.

    August 09, 2012

    A Saudi Arabian cleric and outspoken critic of the Saudi government held in detention for more than a month must be either charged with a recognizably criminal offence or released, Amnesty International has said.

    Sheikh Nimr Baqir al Nimr, 51, who has frequently criticised the Saudi Arabian government over discrimination faced by members of the Shi’a community in the country, has been held without charge since his arrest by Saudi Arabian security forces on 8 July in al'Awwamiya in the Eastern Province.

    “It has been a month since his arrest and Amnesty International is not aware of any charges being brought against him. Amnesty calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to either charge him with a recognisably criminal offence or release him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities must also end what amounts to a pattern of widespread human rights violations against members of the Shi’a community in the Eastern Province exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”

    August 09, 2012

    The Bahraini authorities must release 13 opposition activists and prisoners of conscience Amnesty International said today, ahead of next week's expected final verdict on their appeals.

    The 13, who include prominent activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, were originally sentenced by military court in June 2011 to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”.

    All of the men maintain their innocence.

    Several of the defendants have spoken out in previous court hearings to describe their alleged torture and other ill-treatment in detention, including sexual assault, to coerce “confessions”.

    "The Bahraini authorities must end this travesty of justice, quash all 13 opposition activists' convictions and release them immediately and unconditionally. They are prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme Deputy Director.

    August 08, 2012

    The Greek authorities must halt a mass police crackdown on "irregular migrants" and allow for effective access to asylum-seeking procedures to those in need of international protection Amnesty International said today following reports that more than 7,500 foreign nationals have been arrested in Athens since last Thursday.

    A large number of those arrested were reported to be of Asian, African and North African origin. Many have since been released because they were found to be legally residing in Greece.

    According to Greek police, around 2,000 of those rounded up were found with no papers and were placed in administrative detention. People are being held in overcrowded conditions at the Attika Aliens Police Directorate or at other police stations in Athens. Others have been transferred to police academies in Northern Greece which are being used as detention facilities.

    August 07, 2012

    The Iranian authorities must urgently overturn the death sentence for a shop worker who was tried unfairly on drugs-related charges, Amnesty International said, amid fears his execution is imminent.

    On 1 August, Saeed Sedeghi was transferred from Tehran’s Kahrizak detention centre to Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj, 50 km west of the capital.

    The transfer came just days after he was brought before Tehran’s Revolutionary Court – without having a lawyer present – and made to sign a document informing him that his death sentence would be implemented.

    “By transferring Saeed Sedeghi so soon after informing him of the intent to carry out his death sentence, we fear the Iranian authorities are gearing up to execute him,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “His death sentence should be overturned immediately and he should be retried in full accordance with international fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty.”

    August 03, 2012

    The Texas authorities should commute the death sentence of a prisoner assessed as having a mental disability but facing execution in under a week, Amnesty International said today.

    Marvin Wilson, a 54-year-old African American man, is due to be put to death by lethal injection on 7 August for a murder committed in 1992. A clinical neuropsychologist has concluded that he has “mental retardation”.

    A decade ago, in Atkins v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court prohibited the execution of offenders with “mental retardation”, but left it up to the individual states as to how to comply with the ruling.

    “While a majority of countries have stopped executing anyone, let alone people with mental disabilities, the USA continues to buck this global trend, with Texas all too often leading the way,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s USA Researcher.

    “And leaving it up to Texas how to comply with the Atkins ruling appears to have been something akin to leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

    August 03, 2012

    The investigation announced by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the alleged unlawful killings of 14 members of the al-Berri clan must be carried out in an “impartial, independent and comprehensive” manner and its results should be referred to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Amnesty International said today.

    Fahad al-Masri, the FSA’s Head of Central Media, condemned the killings in a televised interview on Wednesday and said the FSA had opened an investigation into the incident and those responsible would be held to account.

    Members of the Sunni pro-government clan were shown in social media video, allegedly filmed by the al-Tawhid Brigade of the FSA, being shot dead after being ordered out of a clan  “hospitality” building by the fighters in Bab al-Nairab neighbourhood in the city of Aleppo.

    The head of the clan, Ali Zein al-‘Abdeen Berri (known as Zayno Berri), was reportedly killed in the shootings.

    August 02, 2012

    Sudanese security forces must stop shooting protesters with live ammunition, Amnesty International said after confirming that at least eight demonstrators killed on Tuesday had bullet wounds in their chests, some inflicted at close range.

    At least 10 people, many of them high school students, were killed on July 31 when Security services and paramilitary police opened fire in Nyala, South Darfur, during a demonstration against fuel prices and the cost of living. Dozens more were injured.

    Medical staff at Nyala Public Hospital told Amnesty International that the wounds inflicted on the eight bodies admitted to their morgue were consistent with those caused by 5.56mm and 7.62mm automatic rifles.

    “Any individual members of the security forces involved in the events that caused this bloodbath must be suspended immediately,” said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International’s Africa program director.

    “The Sudanese government must investigate why protesters were directly targeted by the security force personnel who opened fire on them with live bullets.”

    August 01, 2012

    The Somali authorities and the international community must ensure that those responsible for the killings of media workers are brought to justice, following the death of comedian Abdi Jeylani Malaq ‘Marshale’ in the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, Amnesty International has said.

    Abdi Jeylani Malaq ‘Marshale’, a popular comedian, was shot dead by two men armed with pistols as he entered his home, at about 5.30pm, in the Waberi district of Mogadishu. He was buried this morning in the capital.

    Although the motives for his killing remains unclear, Abdi Jeylani Malaq ‘Marshale’ had produced and broadcast satirical programs for the Somali Radio Kulmiye and Universal TV, and had previously received death threats from al-Shabab, the Islamist armed group fighting against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

    He is the eighth person working in the media to be killed in a targeted attack in Somalia since December 2011. Several journalists have also narrowly escaped assassination attempts this year.

    July 30, 2012

    The Chilean authorities must initiate a thorough, independent investigation into the police use of force during and after an eviction that resulted in a dozen Indigenous community members – including children – being detained, with many suffering injuries, Amnesty International said.

    On 23 July, police officers (carabineros) reportedly moved in to evict a group of Mapuche Indigenous people who a day earlier had occupied a plot of agricultural land in Ercilla – 600 km south of Santiago – as part of an ongoing protest to reclaim their traditional territory in Chile’s Araucanía region.

    According to reports, twelve Mapuche Temucuicui community members – including women and children – were taken into custody, with several injured after police fired buckshot and used tear gas during the eviction. At least four other Mapuche children were injured when police fired buckshot at demonstrators who had gathered outside Collipulli Hospital, where their injured friends and family members had been taken.

    July 27, 2012

     New York : The fight to end the illegal and irresponsible arms trade goes on after delegates at the United Nations failed to reach consensus and agree on an Arms Trade Treaty, say campaigners. The Control Arms coalition says the lack of agreement on a final text was disappointing but not the end of the story.

    They say, in spite of today’s lack of agreement, momentum is gathering for an international and legally-binding treaty to bring the arms trade under control. Governments now have a second chance to make the treaty a reality by taking the text forward to the General Assembly, in the fall.

    July 26, 2012

           Amnesty International experts available from the UN in New York to provide analysis

    Negotiations to reach agreement on a potentially historic Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), enter a critical final day on Friday 27 July, after nearly four weeks of talks at the United Nations in New York.

    The irresponsible and poorly regulated international arms trade fuels serious human rights abuses, armed violence, conflict, organized crime and poverty around the world.  If agreement on a comprehensive ATT is reached it will help end the devastation caused to millions of lives by the irresponsible arms trade.

    To request an interview or briefing with an Amnesty International spokesperson at the UN on the outcome, key countries involved and what any potential agreement will actually mean, please contact:
    Tom Mackey
    Amnesty International Press Office
    +1 646 3185 134
    tom.mackey@amnesty.org

    July 25, 2012

    The US administration is the pivotal player in closing major loopholes and setting strong rules for international transfers of arms in the final days of negotiations to agree an Arms Trade Treaty [ATT], Amnesty International said today.

    After three weeks of talks to hammer out a deal at the UN in New York, a draft treaty text was published on Tuesday. Governments will now enter into three days of intense negotiations as they look to reach an agreement by Friday.

    Major loopholes in the draft text include ammunition not being subject to tight decision-making controls, an array of weapons, munitions and related equipment not being covered, as well as the treaty only applying to the international trade of conventional arms instead of all international transfers including gifts and aid.  

    Small arms and light weapons and rules to stop arms transfers from being used for crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious violations of human rights are in the current proposal.

    July 25, 2012

    The Cuban authorities’ arrest and short-term detention of more than 40 activists as they paid their respects at the funeral of human rights activist Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas is another sign of how entrenched repression against dissidents on the island remains, Amnesty International said.

    Among those arrested and shoved onto buses immediately following Tuesday’s funeral mass in the capital Havana were former prisoner of conscience Félix Navarro Rodríguez and outspoken dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas.

    Elizardo Sánchez, President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told Amnesty International how as many as 200 state security and police officers descended on the street outside the church in the Havana neighbourhood of El Cerro and began roughing up the mourners and bundling them into buses.

    “The authorities don’t want the public to know how many people were there and that we’re not afraid of them,” Guillermo Fariñas told Amnesty International after his release.

    July 24, 2012

    A photographer and journalism student faces up to seven years in prison after posting pictures of a stunt involving teddy bears to draw attention to violations of freedom of expression in Belarus, prompting Amnesty International to call for his immediate release.

    Photographer Anton Suryapin, 20, was detained on 13 July under suspicion of having assisted an organized group illegally to cross the border of Belarus. According to Belarusian law he should have been charged or released before 23 July. He was not released on Monday and Amnesty International assumes therefore that he was charged. 

    “The charges against Anton Suryapin represent a further nail in the coffin of freedom of expression and association in Belarus, where spurious charges are frequently used in an attempt to silence those working to defend human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “He should be released immediately and the charges against him dropped.”

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