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Surveillance, Security and Human Rights

    June 19, 2017

    Responding to a NYT’s article that disclosed the use of software to spy on Mexican journalists and human rights defenders, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This new chilling evidence confirms that Mexican journalists and human rights defenders are a target of illegal practices designed to interfere and hinder their work. These findings are consistent with Amnesty International's previous research and show a clear pattern of illegal use of technology in an attempt to control any criticism against those in power.”

    “Journalists and human rights defenders constantly put their lives at risk in order to defend everybody’s rights and to inform the public. This is not a crime and surveillance into these activities is illegal and cannot be justified. These actions should be promptly and adequately investigated.”

    Background

    May 31, 2017

    France: Unchecked clampdown on protests under guise of fighting terrorism

    Powers designed to combat terrorism have been repeatedly misused to curb peaceful protest, a new report from Amnesty International has found.

    A right not a threat: Disproportionate restrictions on demonstrations under the State of Emergency in France reveals that hundreds of unjustified measures restricting freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly have been issued under the guise of countering terrorism.

    “Emergency laws intended to protect the French people from the threat of terrorism are instead being used to restrict their rights to protest peacefully,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

    “Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labour rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests.”

    May 26, 2017

    Key legislative amendments approved by the Tunisian Parliament this week are a positive step towards ending some of the discriminatory and disproportionate restrictions on freedom of movement in Tunisia, said Amnesty International.

    The changes to the 1975 Law on Passports, passed on 23 May, include new provisions requiring that reasons are provided for decisions to impose travel bans or withdraw passports, that people affected by a travel ban are informed of the decision promptly, and guaranteeing that they have the right to challenge the decision. The law also limits travel bans to a maximum of 14 months in all circumstances, after which the ban has to be lifted.

    “The draft law adopted this week is a positive development that will help lift some arbitrary restrictions on the right of individuals in Tunisia to travel outside of the country and grants them the right to challenge such restrictions,” said Heba Morayef, North Africa research director at Amnesty International.

    “Parliament should now go further and review the arbitrary application of orders by the Ministry of Interior which restrict freedom of movement inside the country.”

    January 17, 2017

    Released: 10:01 GMT 17 January 2017

    Sweeping new laws are driving Europe into a deep and dangerous state of permanent securitization, Amnesty International said on the publication of a comprehensive human rights analysis of counter-terrorism measures across 14 EU member states.

    Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe reveals how a deluge of laws and amendments passed with break-neck speed, is undermining fundamental freedoms and dismantling hard-won human rights protections.

    “In the wake of a series of appalling attacks, from Paris to Berlin, governments have rushed through a raft of disproportionate and discriminatory laws,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    “Taken alone these individual counter-terrorism measures are worrying enough, but when seen together, a disturbing picture emerges in which unchecked powers are trampling freedoms that have long been taken for granted.”

    December 06, 2016

    NEW YORK – Responding to President Obama’s speech today on counterterrorism, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights program, released the following statement:

    “Today President Obama made the case for a national security policy that respects human dignity and human rights. With a president-elect who has enthusiastically embraced waterboarding, a special registry for Muslims and expansion of indefinite detention at Guantanamo, it cannot be overstated that these legal boundaries must be drawn – repeatedly. 

    “Regardless of who is president, the U.S. has international human rights obligations. The U.S. cannot live up to those obligations if it returns to systematic torture and continues to hold people indefinitely without charge.

    October 19, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. 

    Human rights or security?  In Canada and around the world the debate rages on; but it is an utterly false debate.  We must, finally and firmly, reject the assumption and assertion that more of one necessarily leads to less of the other.  There is no security without human rights.

    A few years ago I was in West Africa with an Amnesty International research team looking into a range of human rights violations associated with counter-terrorism laws and operations in Mauritania.  The sister of an army officer who had “disappeared” while in prison summed up perfectly the absurdity of the notion that there is any sort of rights and security trade-off.  As she told me, “if they truly want us to feel more secure, they should start by stopping violating our rights.”

    October 19, 2016

    Canada must put human rights at the forefront of its approach to national security by adopting a rights-based framework in its upcoming reform of current laws, policy and practices, says an Amnesty International policy brief released today. 

    “For too long, Canadians have been presented with the false and misleading notion that inescapable trade-offs must be made between protection of human rights and ensuring Canadians are kept safe from security threats,” said Alex Neve. “By adopting a human rights-based framework for national security, Canada can demonstrate leadership in addressing grave human rights shortcomings in its current approach while also better ensuring the overall security of its citizens.”

    Amnesty International’s policy brief outlines five guiding principles to form the basis of a human rights-based framework to national security and calls for a number of existing laws and policies to be repealed or reformed.

    September 26, 2016

     Released 2300 GMT 26 September 2016

    The success of an historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerilla group, which was officially signed today in Cartagena, rests on the Colombian authorities’ ability to ensure truth, justice and reparation for the millions of victims of the more than 50 year-long conflict, said Amnesty International.

    The peace agreement will still need to be ratified via a plebiscite, to be held on 2 October.

    “Today will rightly be a day of celebration in Colombia. The authorities must now guarantee this historic achievement is not undermined by ensuring that all those responsible for the despicable crimes under international law inflicted on millions of people over half a century face justice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The crimes of those who carried out, ordered or benefited from these abuses, including those in business and politics, cannot and must not be brushed off with the stroke of a pen.”

    July 01, 2016

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Obama administration disclosed its assessment of the number of individuals killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2009. In response, Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:

    “Today’s disclosure is a crucial shift away from the Obama administration’s longstanding policy of concealing information about civilians killed in drone strikes. It is a vital step in dismantling the dangerous precedent of a global, secret killing program.

    “Amnesty International has consistently called on the United States government not only to be more transparent about its data and policy standards, but about it counts as a civilian. Without information on the administration’s definitions and legal standards for these strikes, any meaningful assessment of the numbers will be incomplete. This is not the end of the public conversation on U.S. drone strikes, but just the beginning.   

    March 10, 2016

    The Honourable Ralph Goodale
    Minister of Public Safety

    Dear Minister:

    Re:       The necessary components of an effective and integrated national security accountability framework for Canada

    March 10, 2016

    The Honourable Ralph Goodale 
    Minister of Public Safety

    March 10, 2016

    Dear Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter to offer a set of recommended principles to guide the anticipated consultations you will soon be launching further to the government’s commitment to review and revise Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015. We urge you to take an approach that demonstrates a commitment to protect national security by upholding human rights and rejecting the false dichotomy of rights or security.

    Our organizations all have serious concerns about the numerous human rights problems associated with this new law.  As a result, over the past year we have appeared before parliamentary committees, raised concerns with UN bodies, turned to the courts, spoken to audiences across the country, launched campaigns and carried out media interviews, pressing for the concerns to be addressed.  We therefore welcome the prospect of reform.

    November 19, 2015

    The emergency measures being rushed through the French Parliament in the wake of the horrific Paris attacks to counter must not become a permanent fixture in France’s anti-terror arsenal, Amnesty International warned today.

    “Right now the protection of the population from further imminent attack is rightly the number one priority. But the emergency powers currently being rushed through parliament provide for a sweeping extension of executive powers at the expense of essential human rights safeguards.  They must be used only when strictly necessary and should not become a permanent addition to France’s anti-terror arsenal,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    The 12-day state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the 13 November attacks provided for a range of additional police powers.  The bill proposed yesterday extends the state of emergency for a further three months and includes a number of additional measures.

    September 02, 2015

    Work on Maher Arar’s case has been one of our most intensive campaigns for justice spanning well over a decade. Here are some of the highlights:

    September 01, 2015

    The following statement was read by Monia Mazigh, Maher Arar's wife, as a press conference earlier today.

    I welcome today's announcement by the RCMP to lay criminal charges against Colonel George Salloum who was directly responsible for my torture while I was detained at the Palestinian Branch of the Syrian Military Intelligence.

    Since I launched my complaint in 2005, I gave the RCMP investigating team, during the many interviews I had with them, the information they needed to advance their investigation. This lengthy international investigation took the officers overseas to gather evidence. As a result, they were able to better understand the nature of interrogations in Syrian detention centers. Upon their return, the investigators were able to pass on their knowledge to other RCMP staff. 

    I believe this is vital for the RCMP to grasp given the increased urge to share information even with regimes who don't respect our understanding of basic human rights.

    August 21, 2015

     

    Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Two years after she was first sentenced, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

     

    Q. Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

    These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had this complete and detailed a record of what modern warfare actually looks like. Once you realize that the co-ordinates represent a real place where people live; that the dates happened in our recent history; that the numbers are actually human lives – with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear, and nightmares that come with them – then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are.

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