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Refugees and Migrants

    June 30, 2014

    Posted at 0001 (BST) 1 July 2014

    Palestinian refugees from Syria - including pregnant women, children and women with infants – have been denied entry into Lebanon due to tightened border restrictions, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. 

    The briefing Denied refuge: Palestinians from Syria seeking safety in Lebanon highlights the desperate plight of families torn apart after falling foul of fluctuating border rules while trying to cross into Lebanon. In one of the most shocking cases a mother with a new-born baby was barred from entering Lebanon when she tried to join her husband and other five children. 

    “By denying entry to a mother and her new-born child, among others, the Lebanese authorities have displayed a chilling disregard for the rights of refugees who are fleeing a bloody conflict. Absolutely no-one seeking refuge from a conflict should be denied entry; by doing so Lebanon is flouting its obligations under international law,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International. 

    June 20, 2014
    By Anna Shea, Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    What struck me most when I met Zeinah (not her real name), a 29-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey, were her warm personality and marvelous smile. But her past and present experiences give her precious little to smile about.

    Zeinah arrived in Turkey four months ago, having fled her native Syria.

    Like other Syrians I met in Istanbul, Zeinah had experienced horrors in her country of origin, and was desperate to start a new life. A teacher by profession, she was jailed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly providing assistance to opposition groups. She said she was raped and beaten multiple times over the several months she spent in prison and was eventually released due to lack of evidence.

    The abuse she suffered in jail has left her with injuries to her spine – and serious psychological trauma – which remain untreated.

    June 20, 2014
    By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

    Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch’.

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    They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 800km away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

    “It is only me looking after the children” says Ayaan. “My parents were both working, but now we have very little. The children are out of school. I want my parents to come back.”

    Ayaan’s experience is far from unique for refugees in Kenya today.

    June 19, 2014

    TORONTO (June 19, 2014) – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), supported by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), announced today that it plans to launch a legal challenge to the proposed new citizenship amendments – Bill C-24 – if the bill is passed by the Senate.

    Bill C-24, introducing sweeping changes to Canada’s citizenship laws that make citizenship harder to get and easier to lose, has passed through the House of Commons and is now being considered by the Senate.  CARL, BCCLA and Amnesty International take the position that this proposed law has dramatically negative effects on Canadian citizenship, eliminating equal citizenship rights for all, and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as international human rights. According to the organizations, the new law will take away rights from countless Canadians, creating a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals and naturalized citizens.

    June 19, 2014
    Maran and Gloria stand up for refugee rights
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    Maran was a journalist and owned his own media company in a country riddled with conflict. Believing that the media was a tool that he could use, he wanted to tell the story of his people to the world.  Telling these stories was a way to protect his people and bring peace to his country.  He faced horrible obstacles.  His land became a place of massacre.  At a certain point, he became helpless and lost the power to speak the truth and fight for freedom.  He had few choices - die, surrender to the Government and become a journalist of propaganda, or flee.  After his family was threatened because of his work, Maran fled.

    Leaving his family, he paid a smuggler who promised to take him to a country where he would be safe. He had no choice about the country, only a small hope that he would eventually be safe.

    June 16, 2014

    The Slovak authorities must immediately halt the imminent extradition of an ethnic Chechen asylum-seeker to Russia, a country where he will face the risk of torture, said Amnesty International.

    Anzor Chentiev could be sent back to Russia as early as this afternoon, after fighting his extradition in Slovakia for more than eight years. He is facing terrorism-related charges in Russia.

    “Returning a person to a country where they are known to be at risk of torture is a shocking contempt of human rights and international obligations,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Slovak authorities cannot abdicate their responsibility to provide Anzor Chentiev with safety when they know that if they return him to Russia he will face the risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The extradition proceedings must be halted immediately, before it is too late.”

    Amnesty International launched an appeal urging the Slovak Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice to halt the extradition.

    June 12, 2014

    Attacks on Somali-owned shops in and around Mamelodi township over the last six days have cost lives and livelihoods and are part of a disturbing trend of violence against refugees and migrants which the police and government are failing to address, Amnesty International said.

    “Despite repeated calls, the police were slow to respond and failed to adequately deploy patrols to stop the escalation of violence which has so far left one refugee dead, ten others injured and at least 76 shops burnt or looted,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “These attacks are just the latest in a wave of ongoing and widespread violence targeted at refugees and migrants in South Africa. The fact that they were preventable highlights a pattern of inaction on the part of the police and a failure of political will in government to tackle this violence.”

    The violence erupted on 7 June in Mamelodi, a township northeast of Pretoria. But despite the fact that police were informed soon after the violence started, they failed to respond appropriately and rapidly.

    May 26, 2014

    Kenya’s Somali community is being scapegoated in a counter-terror operation which has seen thousands subjected to arbitrary arrest, harassment, extortion, ill-treatment, forcible relocation and expulsion, Amnesty International said today.

    In a new Briefing Paper Amnesty International documents a disturbing wave of serious human rights violations suffered by Kenya’s Somali community since a security crackdown - known as ‘Operation Usalama Watch’ - began in early  April 2014.

    “It appears that ‘Operation Uslama Watch’ is being used as a pretext for the blanket punishment of the Somali community in Kenya. They have become scapegoats with thousands arrested and ill-treated, forcibly relocated and hundreds unlawfully expelled to a war-torn country,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 20, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs BST  21 May 2014

    A severe shortfall in international support has left many Syrian refugees in Lebanon unable to access crucial medical care, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The situation is so desperate that in some cases refugees have resorted to returning to Syria to receive the treatment they need.

    The report, Agonizing Choices: Syrian refugees in need of health care in Lebanon, identifies some serious gaps in the level of medical services available to refugees. In some cases Syrian refugees, including those requiring emergency treatment, have been turned away from hospitals.

    “Hospital treatment and more specialized care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is woefully insufficient, with the situation exacerbated by a massive shortage of international funding. Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as a direct result of the international community’s shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief programme in Lebanon,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International.

    May 13, 2014

    The Chadian government’s decision to close the country’s lengthy southern border will have a disastrous impact on men, women and children fleeing months of worsening ethnically-motivated violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), Amnesty International said today.

    Yesterday it was revealed that, on 11 May, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno announced the closure during a visit to the frontier between the two countries. He said that the border would be “sealed” to everyone except returning Chadian citizens and their belongings “until the crisis in the Central African Republic is resolved”.

    “President Déby has slammed the door in the face of refugees arriving from CAR, condemning them to continued suffering. He must reverse this decision and the international community must do more to support the tens of thousands of refugees from CAR who have fled to Chad,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Central Africa.

    May 06, 2014

    Qatar’s government must introduce sweeping reforms to protect migrant workers and tackle domestic violence in order to meet international standards, said Amnesty International, ahead of the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva tomorrow.

    The Gulf state has come under increasing international pressure to prove its commitment to human rights since it won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup. It has been widely criticized for its treatment of migrant workers and for the lengthy imprisonment of a Qatari poet.

    “Despite repeated assurances that change is afoot, Qatar continues to fall short with severe restrictions on freedom of expression, incidents of torture in detention and laws that enable the exploitation of migrant workers and fail victims of domestic violence,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The government has acknowledged that reform is needed to bring the country in line with international standards yet efforts to introduce concrete measures have been sluggish at best.

    May 01, 2014

    An agreement between Cambodia and Australia to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to the Southeast Asian country should be scrapped, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes amid media reports that Cambodia has agreed a deal “in principle” to receive refugees and asylum seekers from Australia. These may include some of those held at Australian-run detention facilities in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

    “Australia should be ending its offshore processing and detention of asylum seekers, not looking to outsource its refugee responsibilities to another, much poorer country,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Cambodia should be aware of the serious risks around this arrangement and must consider whether it really is ready to participate. The country has only limited capacity to process asylum seeker claims and is still struggling to respect and protect the rights of its own citizens.”

    Australia’s unlawful offshore detention centres

    April 29, 2014

    Nauru’s refusal to grant Amnesty International access to its Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre appears to be the latest attempt to avoid public scrutiny of the treatment of asylum seekers there.

    The Nauru government has declined Amnesty International’s request to visit the detention centre, based on "the current circumstances and incredibly busy time," despite the organization’s suggestion of alternative dates.

    This latest obstruction follows Nauru reneging earlier this month on allowing a team of UN human rights observers to access the centre, citing "practical difficulties."

    In February 2014, the cost of visas for journalists visiting Nauru was increased from AUD $200 to $8,000.

    "Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system," said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 28, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must sanction Greece for its failure to eradicate the routine and widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders in search of protection, safety, and better futures in Europe, said an Amnesty International report published today.

    Amnesty International’s report Greece: Frontier of hope and fear contains new evidence of the ongoing, persistent and shameful treatment by the Greek authorities of people risking their lives to find refuge in Europe. This is in direct violation of Greece’s international human rights obligations. The report calls on the EU to use its power to start legal proceedings against Greece for failing to uphold its obligations.

    “The treatment of refugees and migrants at Greece’s borders is deplorable. Too often, instead of finding sanctuary, they are met with violence and intimidation. There are cases where they have been stripped naked, had their possessions stolen, and even held at gunpoint before being pushed back across the border to Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    April 27, 2014

    .Today an international petition with over 100,000 signatures was delivered to the Government of Hong Kong calling for an end to the exploitation of migrant domestic workers. The petition, coming just days before the start of the high profile trial of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih’s employer was signed by 103,307 individuals from over 160 countries.

    In response to the petition Erwiana said, “I don’t want anyone else to experience the abuse I did. That is why I support this call for the government of Hong Kong to end exploitation of migrant domestic workers. I hope that in the future women can come here and work without fear of abuse, with fair pay and equaltreatment. ”

    Organized by Amnesty International, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, International Domestic Workers Federation and Walk Free, the petition calls on the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to take urgent steps to enhance the protection of migrant domestic workers in the territory. These steps include:

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