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Torture

    January 31, 2014
    The abduction and torture of Ukrainian opposition activist Dmitrii Bulatov is a barbaric act which must be investigated immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Ukrainian authorities must immediately open an investigation into Dmitrii Bulatov's case and bring to justice those who have committed this barbaric act against a prominent protest organiser,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “Dmitrii's horrific story is not unique amongst Euromaydan protestors. A number of similar cases have been reported including the case of Yury Verbytsky who, sadly, did not survive his ordeal.

    “It is very hard to see a way out the current crisis when such horrific abuses against protest organizers are taking place. The authorities must send a strong message to the perpetrators of these appalling acts of violence that there will be no impunity and that they will be held accountable. “

    January 29, 2014

    A decision by a court in Lithuania ruling that a Saudi Arabian national has a right to an investigation into his alleged torture in a secret CIA detention centre in the country is a breakthrough for justice, said Amnesty International.

    “The court’s decision in the case of Mustafa al-Hawsawi is a real victory in the pursuit of accountability for Lithuania’s alleged complicity in the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “The Lithuanian court has set an example for all of Europe and the USA by upholding the rule of law and recognizing that victims of torture and enforced disappearance at the hands of the CIA and European agents have an absolute right to a thorough investigation.”

    “The Lithuanian government and Prosecutor General must now open a full and effective investigation into Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s claims and ensure that any other individuals who have alleged that they were held in secret CIA detention there are afforded the same right.”

    January 27, 2014

    The discovery of a secret torture cell in a police intelligence facility in the Philippines where officers physically abused inmates for fun in a game of “roulette” shows the authorities’ pitiful lack of control over the police force in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization is calling on the Aquino administration to act immediately to put an end to routine torture under their watch.

    “For police officers to use torture ‘for fun’ is despicable. These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International's Philippines Researcher.

     "Torture is a criminal act, and the leadership of the Philippine National Police must end its practice within its ranks. The authorities must ensure that torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is not tolerated.”

    January 21, 2014

    World leaders at the Geneva II peace conference on Syria must demand full access to investigate allegations that 11,000 people have been tortured and killed while in detention in the country and monitor conditions in detention, said Amnesty International.

    A report by former war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts is based on documents and thousands of still images of what appear to be the bodies of dead prisoners. The material was smuggled out of the country by a defected military police photographer. The photographs cover the period from the start of the uprising in 2011 until August 2013.

    “The Geneva II peace conference must treat this as an absolute priority. Concrete steps must be taken to respond to the scale of the horrific human rights situation in detention centres and the country in general,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “World leaders must demand that the Commission of Inquiry and other human rights bodies be granted immediate access to all places of detention – formal and informal – in Syria.

    January 14, 2014

    The European Court of Human Rights ruling that three British men who say they were tortured in prison in Saudi Arabia cannot pursue a claim through the UK courts is a retrograde step which dashes any hope of justice, said Amnesty International.

    The ruling blocks any opportunity for further legal action. A fourth victim died before the case was decided.

    “This is a retrograde step. Unless the UK government enters into diplomatic negotiations with Saudi Arabia for compensation, this decision dashes the victims’ hopes for justice,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s deputy director of the Law and Policy program.

    “There was never any prospect of obtaining justice in Saudi Arabia and the only option for these men was to bring the case through the UK courts. This is a major blow for not just for these men but victims of torture globally.”

    After more than 10 years of litigation, the ruling comes as a final blow to the expatriate workers who were arrested in Riyadh in 2000 and 2001 and accused of involvement in a bombing campaign.

    January 09, 2014

    The French government must no allow the extradition of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, Amnesty International said today, shortly after a French court ruled that he should be sent to Russia or Ukraine to face fraud charges.

    “Today's decision by the French court flies in the face of the realities on the ground. Russian and Ukrainian security services collaborate routinely with the security apparatus in Kazakhstan,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia or Ukraine, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The French authorities must not send Ablyazov to any country where he will face serious human rights violations or be forced back to Kazakhstan."

    December 19, 2013

    ‘Today’s announcement is yet another effort by the UK to shirk its responsibility to get at the full truth’ - John Dalhuisen

    Responding to today’s announcement from the Minister without Portfolio Ken Clarke that the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee will examine allegations of UK involvement in torture and other human rights violations concerning people detained overseas in the context of counter terrorism operations, Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said:

    “Today’s announcement about how the UK government now intends to address torture allegation is as disappointing as it is predictable.

    The interim report of the Detainee Inquiry has identified 27 issues for further examination, underscoring the need for an effective, independent, human rights-compliant inquiry.

    Combating torture requires coming clean about when and where it occurred, identifying who was involved, and holding those responsible to account.

    December 09, 2013

    Libya’s authorities must urgently investigate the death of a soldier who was tortured to death last week following 10 hours of interrogation by his own army unit, said Amnesty International.

    Hussein Radwan Raheel, 37, who served with the Saiqa Forces, an elite army unit under the Ministry of Defence, was severely beaten and subjected to electric shocks, family members told Amnesty International. A forensic report and photos of his body seen by the organization also indicate that he was tortured.

    “Torture and ill-treatment were routinely used by the state to terrorize the Libyan people under al-Gaddafi’s brutal rule. The Libyan authorities must show that the country has made a clean break with the past by sending a strong message that human rights violations by state officials will no longer be tolerated,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    November 26, 2013

    Afghanistan’s proposed reinstatement of atrocious punishments would mark a dangerous return to legalized state brutality, Amnesty International said today as it urged the authorities to reject such plans.

    Public stoning to death, amputation of limbs and flogging are among the brutal punishments being put forward as draft amendments to the Afghan Penal Code.

    “Stoning and amputation are always torture, and so is flogging as practised in Afghanistan. All these forms of punishment are strictly prohibited under international human rights treaties which are binding on Afghanistan,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    Some of these punishments are also proposed for acts which should never be criminalized in the first place, including consensual sexual relations between adults, and choosing one’s religion.

    “When Afghanistan left behind such punishments with the ousting of the Taliban over a decade ago, it was a beacon of hope for gradual human rights reform in the country,” said Horia Mosadiq.

    November 19, 2013

    The Ukrainian authorities must make real progress toward elimination of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officials in line with the country’s international obligations, Amnesty International said, ahead of the signing of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.

    “Irrespective of the future of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, the EU must go on pushing Ukraine to comply with its international obligations. Ukraine is an important member of the European and international community. The country’s authorities have voluntarily signed up to all major international human rights agreements – the absolute ban on torture among them,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Ukraine.

    The Association Agreement offers enhanced cooperation in trade, energy, banking and many other areas, and is based on common values, including “democracy and rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, [and] good governance”.

    November 08, 2013

    The decision by Spain’s high court to extradite an asylum-seeker to Kazakhstan, despite compelling evidence that it would place him at risk of torture, violates international law and must be reversed immediately, Amnesty International said.

    Spain’s high court (Audiencia Nacional) today approved the extradition request for Aleksandr Pavlov, 37, the former head of security for the Kazakhstani opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, who fled the Central Asian country in 2009.

    “Kazakhstan’s record of torture and ill-treatment has been well documented. Aleksandr Pavlov is at real risk of such abuse if he is sent back there. Spain has an absolute obligation under international law to stop this from happening,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “If Spain extradites Aleksandr Pavlov, it will be in the full knowledge that he is likely to come to harm. Anything that happens to him in Kazakhstan will be the result of their actions.”

    October 30, 2013

    By granting “injured person” status to a torture survivor currently detained by the US military at Guantánamo Bay, the Polish authorities are a step closer to revealing the truth about the US-led secret detention and rendition program in Poland, Amnesty International said today.

    Yemeni national Walid Mohammed bin Attash is the third person to be recognized as a victim by the Polish Prosecutor General in its five-year investigation into alleged human rights violations by the CIA on Polish territory.

    "Walid bin Attash’s allegations of torture are extremely serious and deserve investigation – it is good that the Polish prosecutors agree,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights. 

    “This development should provide the much-needed push forward for the lagging investigation, which is now over five years running.”

    October 22, 2013

    Sedition charges must be dropped against three political opponents in The Gambia to make way for their immediate release, Amnesty International said, pointing to allegations the three men were tortured to “confess” on national TV.

    “In The Gambia, criticizing the government often carries an enormous cost. Forcing political opponents to ‘confess’ to crimes on national TV seems to be the latest callous strategy by the authorities to prevent anyone from criticizing them,” said Lisa Sherman Nikolaus, Amnesty International’s The Gambia researcher.

    The three men were arrested after one of them attempted to flee the country and claim asylum abroad last month. The men are held incommunicado, have no access to lawyers or their relatives and are believed to have been tortured.

    Malang Fatty was arrested at Amdallai Border Post by The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) as he tried to leave the country on 19 September 2013. He was in possession of a document provided by the other men in support of his asylum claim.

    October 08, 2013

    After years of uncertainty, the full facts in the iconic case of Faysal Baraket, a Tunisian student who died in police custody in 1991, are coming to light, bringing an end to years of denial and deception by the Tunisian authorities, said Amnesty International.

    A report published on the 22nd anniversary of his death details the ordeal faced by his family in their quest for truth and justice and the organization’s lengthy campaign to challenge the authorities’ claim that the 25 year-old died in a car accident rather than being tortured to death.  

    “Faysal Baraket’s case underscores how the security forces for years tortured dissenting voices then denied it and covered it up, as well as the urgent need to reform the security apparatus and judiciary which played a central role in how the case was handled,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    September 30, 2013

    Allegations the Bahraini authorities used electric shocks and other torture methods to extract confessions from members of a group of 50 Shi’a activists are just one factor making their trial and convictions unfair, Amnesty International said today.

    A Bahraini court sentenced the 49 men and one woman, many in their absence, to up to 15 years’ imprisonment on Sunday, on charges related to their involvement in the opposition youth movement known as the 14 February Coalition. The predominantly Sunni Bahraini authorities have accused the Shi’a group of terrorism.

    “It’s appalling what passes for ‘justice’ today in Bahrain. The authorities simply slap the label ‘terrorist’ on defendants, and then subject them to all manner of violations to end up with a ‘confession’,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    The torture allegations have not been investigated and were not considered by the court.

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