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Refugees and Migrants

    November 14, 2016

    Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on third country resettlement is an extreme step in shirking responsibility by the Australian Government, said Amnesty International.

    Prime Minister Turnbull today announced that the Australian Government is in discussions with the United States for some of the refugees warehoused on Nauru and Manus Island to be settle in the US via a process administered by the UNHCR.

    “It is absolutely shameful that the Australian Government has first sent several thousand people to languish for three years on Nauru and Manus Island, set up an offshore processing regime on Nauru that amounts to torture and is now passing the buck when it comes to offering them protection,” said Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia. 

    “Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and should be leading by example at a time of global record high levels of people forced to seek safety. Yet our Government is failing to play a fair part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution, and this urgently needs to change.

    November 04, 2016

    Reacting to Pakistan's decision to deport Sharbat Gula, the iconic 'Afghan girl' whose striking portrait adorned a 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    "Pakistan’s decision to deport Sharbat Gula is a grave injustice. For decades, she was known as the world’s most famous refugee and seen as a symbol of Pakistan’s status as a generous host.

    Now, by sending her back to a country she hasn’t seen in a generation and her children have never known, her plight has become emblematic of Pakistan’s cruel treatment of Afghan refugees.

    “By forcing Afghan refugees to return across the border into the arms of an increasingly deadly conflict, Pakistan is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement. It is putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk of serious human rights abuses.”

     

    Background

    Sharbat Gula is poised to be deported to Afghanistan after serving a 15-day jail sentence and paying a fine, a special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ruled 

    today.

    November 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 November 2016

     

    The European Union’s pressure on Italy to “get tough” on refugees and migrants has led to unlawful expulsions and ill-treatment which in some cases may amount to torture, a new report from Amnesty International revealed today.

    Beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation are among the numerous allegations of abuse documented in Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights. The report demonstrates how the EU-sponsored ‘hotspot approach’ for processing refugees and migrants at the point of arrival is not only undermining their right to claim asylum but has fuelled appalling abuse.

    “In their determination to reduce the onward movement of refugees and migrants to other member states, EU leaders have driven the Italian authorities to the limits – and beyond – of what is legal,” said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Italy. 

    November 01, 2016
    Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru.

    By Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research

    There was a time when Australia led the way on refugee protection.

    Following World War II, Australia came second only to the United States on resettling European refugees. Its signature brought the Refugee Convention into force a few years later. And, in the 1970s, it resettled the third highest number of Indochinese refugees following the wars there.

    Sadly those days are a distant memory. After earning global notoriety for the cruelty it continues to inflict on refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru and Manus Island, the Australian government has shown it is capable of worse.

    Not only is the government refusing to shut down its centres on the two Pacific islands, it is now planning to introduce a law to permanently ban the people trapped there from getting a visa to Australia.

    October 28, 2016

    Greece has illegally returned at least eight Syrian refugees to Turkey without respecting procedural guarantees or considering their asylum claims, documentation and testimonies obtained by Amnesty International reveal.

    The Syrians, including four children under the age of five, were rescued in Greek waters when their boat travelling from Turkey to Italy encountered problems and they were taken to the island of Milos on 9 October. All eight registered their intention to claim asylum, but were returned to Turkey on 20 October. The refugees say they were falsely told that they were being transferred to Athens. Instead they were flown under escort of officers from the EU border agency (Frontex) to Adana, Turkey in a violation of international and EU law.

    “The Greek authorities and the EU have repeatedly insisted that all Syrian refugees arriving in the country are having their asylum claims properly assessed, but the evidence we have now seen clearly strongly suggests otherwise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    October 18, 2016

    By Anna Shea: Amnesty International Researcher/Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights

    In an out-of-the way, dingy watering hole, a young woman I’ll call Jane told me: “I picked this place because it was very noisy, so there’d be less chance of being monitored.”

    Up until that point, we had only communicated by encrypted messages, so that the local authorities wouldn’t know about our meeting. I was in a country that had recently enacted legislation  allowing it to prosecute and imprison people who disclosed information about offshore government operations. By meeting with me, Jane was demonstrating real courage. Many other people were too scared to meet with me—or even speak on the phone.  At the bar, Jane spoke for hours about the human rights abuses she had witnessed. At several points, she broke down in tears. 

    As a human rights lawyer with Amnesty International, I’m used to making elaborate arrangements to ensure the safety and anonymity of the people I interview in authoritarian countries. I’m also accustomed to hearing traumatic stories of abuse.

    October 17, 2016

    Released 17 OCTOBER 2016, 09:30 GMT

    The Australian government is subjecting refugees and asylum seekers to an elaborate and cruel system of abuse – brazenly flouting international law – just to keep them away from its shores, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    Based on months of research, including interviews with more than 100 people in Nauru and Australia, Amnesty International’s report ‘Island of Despair’ exposes the government of Australia’s policy of “processing” refugees and asylum-seekers on Nauru for what it is: a deliberate and systematic regime of neglect and cruelty.

    “On Nauru, the Australian government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, one of the few people who managed to enter the remote and secretive island to investigate human rights abuses.

    October 14, 2016

    Released: Friday 14 October 2016, 09:00 Honduras (15:00 GMT)

    Governments in Central America are fuelling a deepening refugee crisis by failing to tackle rampant violence and sky-high homicide rates in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras which are forcing hundreds of thousands to flee, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Home Sweet Home? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador’s role in a deepening refugee crisis explores how the three countries are failing to protect people from violence, and also failing to set up a comprehensive protection plan for deportees forced by countries such as Mexico and the USA to return to life-threatening situations.

    “El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have become virtual war zones where lives seem to be expendable and millions live in constant terror at what gang members or public security forces can do to them or their loved ones. These millions are now the protagonists in one of the world’s least visible refugee crises,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International.

    September 30, 2016

    The alleged ill-treatment of five Syrian refugee children who say they were detained, beaten and forced to strip naked by Greek police for carrying plastic toy guns in the street is a deeply disturbing incident that must be properly investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    The children, boys aged between 12 and 16, were seized “on suspicion of being members of an armed group” while they carried the toys as props on their way to perform in a theatre play in central Athens this week.

    “The ridiculous elements of this case should not deflect attention from the extremely serious and deeply disturbing nature of the allegations against Greek police officers, who are accused of committing human rights violations against children in their custody during an identity check,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    September 27, 2016

     Released  00.01 27 September 2016 CET

    Denial of effective access to asylum & degrading treatment Anti-refugee rhetoric reaching “fever pitch” ahead of referendum Prime minister Orbán throws down dangerous gauntlet to the EU

    Thousands of asylum-seekers – including unaccompanied children – are suffering violent abuse, illegal push backs and unlawful detention at the hands of Hungary’s authorities and a system blatantly designed to deter them, Amnesty International has revealed in a new report.

    Stranded hope: Hungary’s sustained attack on the rights of refugees and migrants, published against the backdrop of the toxic referendum campaign on refugee quotas, finds hundreds of asylum-seekers are left waiting for months in degrading conditions. Many of those who manage to get into Hungary are pushed back to Serbia or detained unlawfully in detention centres.

     

    September 22, 2016

    By Hanna Gros

    Canada prides itself as a place where immigrants and refugees are welcome -- a safe haven strengthened by its diversity, where multiculturalism flourishes. Canada also prides itself as a defender of human rights at home and abroad. Canadians played an important role in drafting the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has served as a model for human rights instruments worldwide.

    But in recent years Canada has come under harsh criticism from the United Nations and civil society organizations for its immigration detention regime, which deprives children of their fundamental human rights. Under current law and administrative procedures, children affected by the immigration detention regime enter a Kafkaesque world of prison conditions, uncertain lengths of detention, and separation from their parents, that robs them of the opportunity to develop normally.

    September 21, 2016

    Released 00.01 22 September 2016 CET

             One year on from promises to relocate over 66,000 asylum-seekers from Greece, less than 6% relocated

     

             Press resource pack with case studies, data and photographs

     

             Spokespeople available for interview

     

    A year after EU leaders agreed on an emergency relocation scheme to share responsibility for asylum-seekers, tens of thousands remain stranded in appalling conditions in Greece, Amnesty International revealed in a new briefing published today.

     

    Our hope is broken provides detailed case studies, evidence and data on the ways in which European governments’ lack of political will is condemning extremely vulnerable people to crippling insecurity and hardship. It reveals that less than 6% of the commitments for relocation from Greece have been fulfilled.

     

    September 07, 2016
    By Monica Costa Riba

    Strapped onto either side of a horse, 30 year-old Alan Mohammad and his 28 year-old sister Gyan crossed craggy mountains from Iraq and into Turkey last February. Their younger sister walked ahead, leading the horse. Their mother, brother and younger sister trailed behind, pushing heavy wheelchairs up the steep unpaved path.

    September 05, 2016

    The G20 Hangzhou Summit Declaration calling for greater “burden-sharing” to address the refugee crisis reveals how little most G20 countries have done to share responsibility so far, said Amnesty International today.

    There are currently 27 countries in the world with regular programmes for resettling refugees. Only 9 of them are in the G20. Amongst the G20 only Canada has shown genuine openness on resettlement, taking in 25,000 refugees from Syria since late 2015 and indicating it will take more.  Germany’s strong stance, accepting over a million refugees, was unmatched by other European members of the G20.

    August 31, 2016

    Major reforms must be undertaken by the authorities in the Australian state of Queensland to protect the rights of Indigenous children from a youth justice system that criminalizes them out of all proportion to the general population, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    The report Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detention, strong in culture and community will be launched at Parliament House, Brisbane today.

    “While the Queensland authorities have recognized the need for reform, much more needs to be done. In particular, a shift to supporting Indigenous-led initiatives could make a significant difference to prevent another generation of Indigenous children from being lost behind bars,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

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