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Torture

    September 16, 2011

    The Chinese government should halt the imminent execution of a Pakistan national, Amnesty International said today.

    Syed Zahid Hussain Shah, a 36-year-old-Pakistani businessman, is due to be executed by lethal injection on 21 September.
     
    Arrested in Shanghai in 2008 on drug trafficking charges, he was sentenced to death in 2010. That sentence was subsequently upheld by an appeal court and approved by China’s Supreme Court.  Four other Pakistanis arrested with Shah were sentenced to life imprisonment.

    “Executing someone for drug related offences violates internationally accepted standards for imposing the death penalty,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director. “The Chinese government should grant clemency in this case, particularly in light of its ‘special relationship’ with Pakistan.

    "The Pakistani government should provide Shah with urgent additional consular assistance.”
     
    Members of Shah’s family told Amnesty International that they believe he is innocent. They said he had been falsely implicated by his business partners.

    September 15, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged authorities in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province to thoroughly investigate reports that a women’s rights activist was tortured in custody amid mass arrests following environmental protests about a saltwater lake.

    Activist and journalist Faranak Farid, aged 50, was reportedly beaten severely after her arrest on 3 September in the north-western city of Tabriz.  She was arrested after several demonstrations in towns and cities across the region called for government action to stop nearby Lake Oroumieh from drying up. 

    Farid, who is a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, has reportedly been accused of “insulting the Supreme Leader”, “propaganda against the system” and “acting against national security”.

    “If Faranak Farid is being held solely for her peaceful activism or her writings, then she is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    September 13, 2011

    The National Transitional Council (NTC) must get a grip on armed anti-Gaddafi groups to stop reprisal attacks and arbitrary arrests, Amnesty International warned as it released a major report into human rights violations during the Libyan conflict.

    The 107-page report The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture reveals that while al-Gaddafi forces committed widespread crimes under international law during the conflict, forces loyal to the NTC have also committed abuses that in some cases amounted to war crimes.

    “The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    “The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently, end abuses and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed."

    “A top priority must be to assess the state of the justice sector and start its reform, to ensure due process and deliver access to justice and reparation for victims.”

    September 13, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Syrian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of four activists arrested last week near Damascus after the dead body of their friend was returned to his family over the weekend.

    The four, who include the brothers Yahya and Ma’an Shurbaji, have not been seen since they were detained in Daraya, a Damascus suburb, on 6 September at the same time as Ghayath Mattar, the dead activist. There are growing fears for their safety.

    An Amnesty International report last month listed 88 deaths in custody since April, but seven others, including Ghayath Mattar, have died behind bars in recent weeks, bringing the total to 95.

    “It is clear that these human rights activists from Daraya are in grave danger given the very suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of their friend and fellow activist Ghayath Mattar,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    September 09, 2011

    A Chinese activist jailed in connection with her support for bloggers must be released, Amnesty International said today after she was sentenced to nine months in prison.

    Wang Lihong, 56, was detained  in March and later charged  with “creating a disturbance”  amid a government crackdown on online calls for a “Jasmine Revolution”  inspired by  protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

    She had pleaded not guilty in court in Beijing and has told her lawyer that she plans to appeal.

    "This unjust verdict is the latest example of China's zeal for persecuting anyone who dares to defy the tight controls in China and to publicly support human rights activists," said Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    "Wang Lihong's arrest, trial and sentencing were a farce. She has worked peacefully for a more fair and just China and has consistently spoken out against human rights abuses in her country. For this, she should be commended, not jailed."

    Wang Lihong was taken from her home by nine police officers on 21 March 2011.

    September 08, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the UK authorities to bring to justice all those responsible for the death Baha Mousa, after an inquiry into the death of the Iraqi hotel receptionist found that UK soldiers violently assaulted him while in custody in Basra in 2003.

    Baha Mousa suffered 93 separate injuries before he died, said the inquiry’s report, which was released today. Nine other Iraqis held with Mousa were also subjected to human rights violations that constituted war crimes during their detention.

    Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International said:

    “What happened to Baha Mousa and the other men detained with him at the hands of British soldiers must never be allowed to happen again. Whatever the pressures the soldiers may have faced in Iraq during that time, torture can never be justified in any circumstances.”

    “Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions and brought swiftly to justice, including in criminal proceedings – nothing less will do”.

    September 08, 2011

    Thirteen Bahraini health workers facing trial before a military court apparently over treating some of those injured during a government crackdown on pro-reform protests  were released on bail yesterday.

    All 13 are part of an original group of 48 health workers, mostly from al-Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, arrested in March and April 2011 during the protests.

    The trial will resume on 26 September at the National Safety Court of First Instance, a military court established under the state of emergency in force from March to June 2011.

    Days before the trial session all detained health workers started a hunger strike in protest at their detention. Two were too weak to attend the trial. Many have complained of torture and other ill-treatment during their detention.

    Charges against some of the health workers include hiding weapons and explosives in the hospital, as well as attempting to overthrow the regime by force. However, the court has failed to provide any evidence of that.

    September 07, 2011

    NATO’s decision to suspend transferring detainees to Afghan forces due to reports of systematic torture highlights the international community’s failure to provide for basic rule of law in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today. 

    The decision was announced on Tuesday after a leaked UN report detailed systematic torture at some government-run detention centres.

    Amnesty International has consistently called on the NATO-led ISAF forces to end transfers to facilities run by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), where torture and other ill-treatment have long been reported.

      “Amnesty International warned ISAF of these problems years ago, but instead of fixing the problem, ISAF allowed things deteriorate until the situation became intolerable. ISAF governments should explain how they allowed the situation to get completely out of hand, ,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    September 01, 2011

    Pro al-Gaddafi forces left 19 detainees to die of suffocation while locked inside metal containers in the sweltering June heat in north-western Libya, Amnesty International has discovered.

    Three survivors described how al-Gaddafi loyalists tortured them and then imprisoned them along with 26 others in two cramped cargo containers on 6 June at a construction site in al-Khums, 120 km east of Tripoli.

    The detainees endured temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius and drank their own sweat and urine when the limited water supply ran out. Their captors shouted “rats, shut up," ignoring their cries for help.

    This is the first report of the June incident, because al-Khums was off-limits to independent reporting until it fell under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC) on 21 August.

    “This is obviously appalling and inhumane treatment of a group of people who were mostly civilians,” said Diana Eltahawy, North Africa Researcher at Amnesty International, who is currently in Libya.  

    It is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill or torture prisoners.

    August 31, 2011

    Two Ethiopian opposition leaders have been arrested after meeting an Amnesty International delegation, which was afterwards expelled from the country, the organization said today.

    One of the men was accused of terror-related offences, while the charges against the other man are not known.

    “We are extremely concerned that the arrests of the two men occurred within days of talking with our delegates. Although the Ethiopian government has denied it, we are worried that their arrests are not a coincidence, but because they spoke to Amnesty International,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Program Director for Africa.

    Bekele Gerba, deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and Olbana Lelisa of the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) were both arrested on 27 August.

    On the same day that the two men were arrested, the Amnesty International delegation was called to a government meeting, where they were ordered to leave the country.

    August 30, 2011

    The Mexican government’s strategy on migrants has so far failed to tackle the alarming numbers of Central American migrants being kidnapped regularly in the country, Amnesty International said a year after the plan was first launched.

    The strategy, announced in August 2010, promised a radical overhaul of the government’s approach to the epidemic of kidnappings and killings of irregular migrants in Mexico.

    It included commitments to ensure effective coordination between federal, state and municipal authorities to prevent further kidnappings, investigate and punish those responsible, and guarantee assistance to migrants who have suffered abuses.
      
    “Despite the government’s claims to be addressing the issue, there is no evidence that the implementation of the widely publicized policy has had any impact,” said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The Mexican government should provide a detailed report on the impact of the strategy and information on the prosecution and conviction of all those responsible for abuses against migrants.”

    August 30, 2011

    People suspected of having fought for Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi, in particular black Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans, are at high risk of abuse by anti-Gaddafi forces, Amnesty International said today after witnessing black Libyans being targeted in Tripoli on Monday.

    An Amnesty International delegation visiting the Central Tripoli Hospital witnessed three thuwwar revolutionaries, as the opposition fighters are commonly known, dragging a black patient from the western town of Tawargha from his bed and detaining him. The men were in civilian clothing.

    The thuwwar said the man would be taken to Misratah for questioning, arguing that interrogators in Tripoli “let killers free”.

    Two other black Libyans receiving treatment in the hospital for gunshot wounds were warned by the anti-Gaddafi forces that “their turn was coming”.

    The delegation also witnessed a group of thuuwar beating a man outside the hospital. The man, in distress, was shouting “I am not a fifth columnist”, as al-Gaddafi loyalists are known.

    August 30, 2011

    At least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during five months of bloody repression of pro-reform protests, a new Amnesty International report reveals today.

    Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria documents reported deaths in custody between April and mid-August in the wake of sweeping arrests.

    The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria.

    “These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s researcher on Syria.

    “The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”

    August 26, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Brazilian authorities to revoke a law that prevents the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for hundreds of cases of human rights violations.

    The 1979 Amnesty Law, which came into effect on 28 August that year, prevents those responsible for the widespread practice of torture, extra-legal executions, enforced disappearances and rape committed during the 1964-1985 military government from being tried for those crimes.

    “This law is a scandal and doing nothing but preventing justice,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International. “By upholding a law that allows crimes such as torture and murder to go unpunished, Brazil is falling behind other countries in the region that have made serious efforts to deal with these issues.”

    “The fact that crimes including torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and rape committed in the past were allowed to go unpunished has denied victims and their families the right to truth, justice and reparation.”

    August 25, 2011

    Both sides to the ongoing conflict in Libya must ensure that detainees in their custody are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated, Amnesty International said today.

    The call followed reports from Amnesty International's delegation in Libya on Tuesday, which has gathered powerful testimonies from survivors of abuse at the hands of both pro-Gaddafi soldiers and rebel forces, in and around the town of Az-Zawiya.

    TESTIMONIES OF ABUSE COMMITTED BY REBEL FORCES:

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