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Torture

    September 04, 2014

    By Katie Young, Amnesty International Australia

    Travel guides describe Mexico as one of the world’s great civilisations, whose landscapes are as stunning as they are diverse. But there’s a dark flipside to the family-friendly resorts and shimmering blue coastlines: Mexico is suffering from an epidemic of torture.

    Here we look some sickening facts about torture in Mexico and what you can do to help.

    1. Reports of torture are 600% higher than in 2003

    Torture in Mexico is, quite frankly, out of control. In the last ten years alone, there has been a 600 per cent rise in the number of reported cases of torture. Between 2010 and the end of 2013, the National Human Rights Commission received more than 7,000 complaints of torture.

    An Amnesty survey recently found that a whopping 64 per cent of Mexican citizens are afraid they would be tortured if they were ever to be detained by the police. In the same survey, Australia and China came out at 16 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

    2. How are people tortured in Mexico?

    Torture techniques in Mexico all have one thing in common: they’re brutal.

    August 14, 2014

    Two activists recently imprisoned after they reported they had been abducted and tortured must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said.

    Human rights and political activist Wafae Charaf was sentenced to a year in prison and a 1000 MAD fine (approximately USD 120) on Tuesday for allegedly falsely reporting being abducted and tortured by unknown persons in April this year.

    The court also ordered her to pay 50,000 MAD (approximately USD 6,000) in compensation to Morocco’s police force for slander, although she did not accuse them.

    “No-one should be imprisoned for reporting torture and slander should not be a criminal offence. This conviction sends a chilling warning to anyone who has suffered torture, or any other ill-treatment, that they should keep quiet or risk ending up behind bars,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    August 12, 2014

    This morning’s arrest of a General accused of abductions and torture in the Philippines is an encouraging sign that the authorities are finally tackling a culture of impunity for serious human rights violations by the security forces, Amnesty International said.

    Retired Major General Jovito Palparan, 63, was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation and members of the armed forces at around 3am in the Santa Mesa area of the Philippines’ capital, Manila.

    Often referred to as Berdugo (“the executioner” or “the butcher”) by human rights activists, he faces charges of kidnapping and illegal detention of university students in 2006.  

    “Today’s arrest of one of the Philippines’ most wanted alleged human rights violators must embolden the authorities to step up their efforts to bring to justice military and law enforcement officials who have reportedly abused their power through involvement in torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions,” said Rupert Abbott, Deputy Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    July 29, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must urgently strengthen its laws to enable member states to immediately ban the trade in new devices and technologies that have no practical  use other than to torture, ill-treat or execute individuals, said Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation, as experts meet in Brussels today to strengthen current regulations.

    The organizations are also calling on the EU to close current legal loopholes which effectively allow the promotion, brokering and provision of technical training in the use of devices and technologies that can easily be used by law enforcers for acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    July 24, 2014

    Poland is the first European Union member state to be found complicit in the USA’s rendition, secret detention, and torture of alleged terrorism suspects, Amnesty International said as it applauded two landmark human rights judgments handed down today. 

    The European Court of Human Rights found that the Polish government colluded with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to establish a secret prison at Stare Kiejkuty, which operated between 2002 and 2005. At the site, 180 km north of Warsaw, detainees were held in secret detention and tortured.

    “Today’s historic rulings finally unlock the truth about a dark period of Poland’s recent history and mark a milestone against impunity. Poland knowingly became part of the USA’s illegal network of black sites that was used to secretly detain and torture individuals rounded up in counter-terrorism operations,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    July 10, 2014
    Sasha, a 19-year-old pro-Ukrainian activist, fled to Kyiv after he was abducted by separatists at gunpoint in Luhansk. He said he was beaten repeatedly for 24 hours.© Private

    Amnesty International has gathered graphic and compelling evidence of savage beatings and other torture meted out against activists, protesters and journalists in eastern Ukraine over the last three months.

    A new briefing, Abductions and Torture in Eastern Ukraine, details the findings of a research trip to Kyiv and south-eastern Ukraine in recent weeks. It documents allegations of abduction and torture perpetrated by separatist armed groups and pro-Kyiv forces.

    “With hundreds abducted over the last three months, the time has come to take stock of what has happened, and stop this abhorrent ongoing practice,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    July 10, 2014

    The skin across Sasha’s forehead and around his eyes is slightly yellow and there is a recent scab on his temple. He is healing well.

    Ten days before our meeting, the 19-year-old was barely recognizable: the skin on his face stretched tight, swollen and bruised. Abducted and tortured, Sasha believes he is lucky to be alive.

    Take the Pledge to Stop Torture Everywhere and Forever. 

    After the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine came under control of separatist armed groups in April 2014, he was an obvious target.

    July 10, 2014

    On the morning of 27 May, Hanna, was sitting in her flat in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, when there was a knock on the door. As her boyfriend Feodor lifted the latch, seven armed men wearing balaclavas and camouflaged fatigues barged through. They said they were from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), the pro-Russian separatist group which had recently seized power in the city.

    Take the Pledge to Stop Torture Everywhere and Forever. 

    This was the start of a terrifying six day ordeal for the 30 year old pro-Ukrainian activist. She had been involved in demonstrations providing medical help and first aid to protesters injured in clashes.

    July 05, 2014

    The Congolese authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) must do everything in their power to ensure that three men due to be returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this weekend do not face the death penalty, torture or other serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International believes the three former ICC witnesses face a real risk of persecution and reprisals in the DRC because of the testimony they submitted to the ICC accusing President Kabila of involvement in serious crimes.

    “Amnesty International has protested against the return of these detained witnesses and calls on the ICC and the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure that all necessary protective measures are in place when they arrive in Kinshasa,” said Evie Francq, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the DRC.

    “The ICC has a duty to monitor the wellbeing of these men when they return home and to ensure the local authorities live up to their promises to protect the men from human rights violations. The Congolese justice system must cooperate,” said Evie Francq.

    July 03, 2014

    •        At least 16,000 detained and at least 80 deaths in custody recorded in past year
    •        Torture and other ill-treatment in detention continues unabated
    •        Fair trial standards routinely flouted 

    A surge in arbitrary arrests, detentions and harrowing incidents of torture and deaths in police custody recorded by Amnesty International provide strong evidence of the sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt in the year since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted. 

    June 25, 2014

    The stench of rotting flesh coming from the tiny, cramped cell overpowered him. This was the smell of torture.

    As soon he set one foot inside the small room at a police detention centre in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Forensic Doctor Duarte Vieira was shocked. He had never seen anything as bad – and he had seen plenty.

    Amongst the 45 men, women and children held in a space originally built for six people, he saw a man with a rotting bullet wound on his foot. And then another. And a third one.

    The wound on the ankle of a fourth man had gone untreated for so long that his foot was literally decomposing; attached to the leg by a thread of skin.

    Dr. Vieira immediately knew this was a form of torture used to punish prisoners.

    “I never thought I was going to see anything like that in a living human being. People were shot on their feet before being interrogated as a way of showing them what to expect next,” he told Amnesty International.

    June 05, 2014

    Allegations aired last night in a documentary by Irish state broadcaster RTÉ that the UK Government sanctioned the use of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, and failed to disclose relevant evidence to the European Court of Human Rights, underline the failure to deliver a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the past, said Amnesty International.

    In 1971, Ireland took the first inter-state case to come before the European Court on Human Rights, alleging Britain had breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The use of torture during internment was central to that case which became known as the “hooded men” case.

    The documentary, The Torture Files, was based on investigations carried out by Northern Irish human rights NGO the Pat Finucane Centre and RTÉ. It further alleges that the UK Government did not disclose relevant evidence to the European Court of Human Rights in its defence of the case.

    May 22, 2014

    Dozens of civilians have been subjected to enforced disappearance and held for months in secret detention at an Egyptian military camp, where they are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to make them confess to crimes, according to shocking new evidence gathered by Amnesty International.

    Egyptian lawyers and activists have a list of at least 30 civilians who are reportedly being held in secret at Al Azouly prison inside Al Galaa Military Camp in Ismailia, 130km north-east of Cairo. Former detainees there have told Amnesty International that many more – possibly up to 400 – could be held in the three-storey prison block. The detainees have not been charged or referred to prosecutors or courts, and have had no access to their lawyers or families.

    “These are practices associated with the darkest hours of military and Mubarak’s rule. Egypt’s military cannot run roughshod over detainees’ rights like this,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    May 15, 2014

    The pain of torture is unbearable. I never thought I would be alive till this day. The pain I went through in the hands of the officers was unimaginable. In my whole life, I have never been subjected to such inhuman treatment. –Moses Akatugba, February 2014

    On November 27, 2005, Moses Akatugba, then only 16 years old, was awaiting the results of his secondary schools exams when he was arrested by the Nigerian army and charged with stealing three cell phones and various other communication-related items.

    Moses describes being shot in the hand and soldiers beating him on the head and back during his arrest. He was initially held at the army barracks, where he said soldiers showed him a corpse and when he was unable to identify the dead man, he was beaten.

    After being transferred to Epkan police station in Delta State he suffered further torture and ill-treatment. Moses told one human rights defender that the police severely beat him with machetes and batons, tied and hanged him for several hours in interrogation rooms, and used pliers to pull out his finger and toe nails in order to force him to sign two confessions.

    May 13, 2014

    by Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
     

    “I am here to ask for your help,” said Claudia Medina when I met her in Mexico earlier this year. “I’m going to report a crime of torture.”

    Her words touched me, because I knew what Claudia had been through. At 3am on 7 August 2012, marines broke into the home she shared with her husband and three children. They tied her hands and blindfolded her, put her in a pick-up truck and took her to a naval base in Veracruz City. They accused her of being a member of a powerful and violent criminal gang, which she flatly denied.

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