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Torture

    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.

    September 16, 2013

    The Yemeni authorities must immediately commute a sentence of amputation imposed on a man convicted of theft and assault, said Amnesty International.

    The defendant received the “cross-amputation” sentence at Sana’a’s Specialized Criminal Court on Sunday 15 September. The sentence, which he can appeal, requires his right hand and left foot to be amputated.

    “Amputation is a cruel punishment that amounts to torture and accordingly is a crime under international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “The Yemeni authorities must immediately take steps to abolish this brutal punishment.”

    Sunday’s sentence is the first reported cross-amputation sentence passed in Yemen in more than 10 years.

    The man was convicted of ambushing and assaulting a man as he transported cash in his car. Six other men also received prison sentences ranging from one to four years for banditry, theft and forming a criminal gang.

    August 07, 2013

    Amnesty International absolutely refutes a statement by Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, alleging that the organization has evidence that “heavy weapons” are present inside a sit-in by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi near Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo.

    During an interview on BBC HARDTalk broadcast on Tuesday 6 August 2013, Nabil Fahmy said that Amnesty International had issued a statement saying there were “heavy weapons inside Rabaa”. Amnesty International has not issued such a statement.

    Last Friday Amnesty International announced that the organization had gathered evidence indicating that a number of Morsi supporters had tortured individuals from a rival political camp since the outbreak of the political crisis in June. Some of these incidents occurred in areas near where pro-Morsi sit-ins were being held.  

    At no stage did Amnesty International refer to the use of “heavy weapons” inside the sit-in.

     

    August 02, 2013

    Evidence, including testimonies from survivors, indicates that supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi tortured individuals from a rival political camp, said Amnesty International.

    Anti-Morsi protesters told Amnesty International how they were captured, beaten, subjected to electric shocks or stabbed by individuals loyal to the former President. Since mass rival rallies began in late June, as of 28 July, eight bodies have arrived at the morgue in Cairo bearing signs of torture. At least five of these were found near areas where pro-Morsi sit-ins were being held.

    “Allegations that torture is being carried out by individuals are extremely serious and must be investigated as a matter of urgency,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.  

    July 30, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Aaron Yoon, who was released from prison in Mauritania on 23 July, returned to Canada on Friday 26 July, 2013.

    Aaron Yoon has gone into seclusion with his family for a few days at an undisclosed location.

    A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should be released from prison.

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he had, by that time, served that amount of time and should be released from prison.

    An Amnesty International delegation, including AI Canada Secretary General Alex Neve, interviewed Aaron Yoon extensively in prison in June 2013. 

    Amnesty International has highlighted serious concerns that he was subject to torture when he was first taken into police custody and that trial and appeal proceedings in Mauritania did not meet minimum international fair trial standards.
     

    July 23, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Aaron Yoon was released from prison in Mauritania on July 23, 2013 and remains in that country at this time. 

    While it is expected that he will return to Canada in the near future, Amnesty International has no further details as to when or how that will occur.

    A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should be released from prison.

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he has now served that amount of time and should be released from prison.

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations               

    (613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

     

     

     

    July 15, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that a Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should now be released from prison. 

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he has now served that amount of time and should be released from prison. 

    It is not yet clear when Aaron Yoon will actually be released from prison and allowed to leave the country. 

    Amnesty International calls on Mauritanian officials to comply promptly with the appeal ruling, including allowing Aaron Yoon to return to Canada if that is his wish.

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations                (613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    July 11, 2013

    Amnesty International accused the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, of pulling the wool over the eyes of the international community in his government’s promise to eradicate torture and fully investigate the lethal force by police.

    In a report published today, Amnesty International exposes how the security forces act with impunity and how torture in detention centres is rife.

    The report, Old habits: The routine use of torture and other ill-treatment in Kazakhstan, details how at least 15 people were killed and more than 100 seriously injured when security forces used excessive and lethal force to disperse the crowds in protests in Zhanaozen in December 2011. Scores of people were rounded up by security forces and tortured in overcrowded underground police cells.

    Amnesty International is calling on the President to authorize and facilitate an independent international investigation into the use of lethal force by security forces in Zhanaozen in December 2011, as recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

    July 09, 2013

    The Lebanese authorities must conduct a full investigation into the death in custody of Nader al-Bayoumi, a 35-year-old man detained following armed clashes between the Lebanese army and fighters supporting the Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asseer in Sidon, south Lebanon, last month, said Amnesty International. In a new briefing published today the organization also detailed allegations of torture and mistreatment of others arrested - including a child.

    Amnesty International has seen images of Nader al-Bayoumi’s body, which bore signs of horrific abuse. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the images concluded that the bruising on the body was consistent with assault and suggested internal haemorrhage was a possible cause of death.

    “The obscurity surrounding al-Bayoumi’s death, whose body was handed over three days after his arrest, is unacceptable. An immediate, independent and transparent investigation into his case is crucial,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

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