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    April 11, 2011

    Authorities in Swaziland must ensure the safety of four key activists who were detained last night in an apparent bid to disrupt planned protests marches, Amnesty International said today.

    The arrests of the activists, which took place at a roadblock near Mbabane last night according to eyewitnesses, follow the Swaziland government’s recent announcement that all protests from 12 to 14 April are illegal.

    “We are deeply concerned for the safety of these activists, who are held incommunicado and at risk of torture," said Amnesty International’s deputy Africa Program Director, Michelle Kagari.

    "The authorities must ensure that the detainees are given immediate access to legal counsel and that their families are told where they are.”

    “The fact that several of the arrested men have been previously unlawfully detained, ill-treated and had police raids on their homes increases the concerns about their well-being.”

    April 11, 2011

    Amnesty International has today revealed fresh evidence of extrajudicial executions apparently committed by Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's forces near the town of Ajdabiya in recent days.
    Amnesty International researchers in eastern Libya yesterday saw the bodies of two opposition fighters who had been shot in the back of the head after their hands had been bound behind their backs.
    Today they saw a body of another man who had been shot dead while his hands and feet were bound.
    “Based on what our delegates have seen in eastern Libya over the last six weeks, the circumstances of these killings strongly suggest that they were carried out by the forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
    “The deliberate killing of captured fighters is a war crime. All those responsible for such crimes - those who ordered or sanctioned them as well as those who carried them out - must be left in no doubt that they will be held fully accountable,” said Malcolm Smart.

    March 31, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities should scrap a draft law aimed at criminalizing strikes and protests, Amnesty International said ahead of demonstrations against the law set for Friday.

    “Any move to curb freedom of assembly and the right to strike in Egypt would be an alarming step backwards and an insult to those who risked - and lost - their lives calling for change over the past two months," said Amnesty International.

    "It is vital in this transitional period that the Egyptian authorities guarantee basic human rights such as the right to carry out peaceful protests and strikes."

    Activists are set to gather in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand that Egypt's interim military government scrap the proposed ban and push through human rights reforms.

    The Egyptian cabinet last week proposed the new law, which would make participating in protests and strikes that "hinder the work of public institutions or authorities during a state of emergency" illegal.

    Under the proposed law, protesters and anyone deemed to be inciting protest could face jail or a hefty fine.

    March 10, 2011

    Malaysia should immediately halt the judicial caning of refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said after the government disclosed that almost 30,000 foreigners had been caned in five years.

    In a response to a parliamentary question on 9 March, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disclosed that Malaysia had caned 29,759 foreigners between 2005 and 2010 for immigration offences alone.

    “The government’s figures confirm that Malaysia is subjecting thousands of people to torture and other ill-treatment each year,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia Pacific director at Amnesty International. “This is a practice which is absolutely prohibited under international law, no matter what the circumstances.”

    “As a first step, the Malaysian government has to immediately declare a moratorium on this brutal practice.”

    Amnesty International also called for a complete abolition of all forms or corporal punishment, which constitutes torture or other ill-treatment.

    March 10, 2011

    A group of anti-government protesters missing since they were arrested this week in Baghdad are feared to be at risk of torture, after other recently released protestors told Amnesty International they were tortured in detention.
    At least 10 people were detained on Monday while returning home from a Baghdad protest against unemployment, government corruption and poor social services.
    The arrests came as other protesters who were detained last month told Amnesty International that they were tortured in detention.
    "We fear there is a real risk of torture for those arrested on Monday, especially as their whereabouts in detention is yet to be disclosed. This seems to be following a pattern of protesters being detained and tortured as the Iraqi government tries to crackdown on demonstrations," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
    "The authorities must immediately reveal where these latest detainees are held and release them if they have been detained solely for exercising their legitimate right to protest."

    March 02, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to release a man sentenced by a military court to five years in prison on Tuesday, apparently for exercising his right to peaceful protest.

    Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry was convicted by the Supreme Military Court of assaulting a public official on duty and for breaking curfew.

    He, his cousin and other protesters were reportedly beaten with sticks and then arrested as military police and the army used excessive force to disperse a protest outside the Parliament of Egypt in Cairo early in the morning of Saturday 26 February. Some protesters were also reportedly beaten with electric shock batons.

    Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry was initially released by the military police but was rearrested shortly after, apparently because other protesters had filmed his injuries.

    While in detention, Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry and his cousin were allegedly beaten and tortured by electric shocks.

    His cousin and the other protesters were released later Saturday morning.

    March 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called for immediate independent investigations as it released a report detailing unlawful killings and acts of brutality by Tunisian security forces during the protests in December and January that led to the departure of former President Ben Ali.

    The 46-page report Tunisia in Revolt: State Violence during Anti Government Protests reveals that security forces shot bystanders and fleeing protesters and fired live ammunition at protesters who did not pose a threat to their lives, nor that of others.

    “The security forces acted with reckless disregard for human life in all too many cases,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.  

    “The new government must ensure that killings and serious allegations of abuse by the security forces are fully and independently investigated without delay, and that those responsible are held to account.”

    “This is an essential first step in turning the page on the long years of abuses under the former president,” said Malcolm Smart.

    February 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has welcomed the release of 23 opposition activists in Bahrain, but again called for an independent investigation into claims that some of them were tortured while in custody.

    The 23 men were among at least 250 detainees released early on Wednesday by order of Bahrain's head of state, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, apparently in response to demands made by protesters seeking political reform in the country.

    The 23 were facing trial on an array of security-related charges, which they denied but which could have resulted in their being sentenced to death.

    "While we welcome the release of these opposition activists, we continue to urge the Bahraini authorities to conduct a thorough, independent investigation into allegations that some of them were tortured in pre-trial detention, and to bring to justice anyone found responsible for torture," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The 23 opposition activists were arrested in August and September last year during a clampdown in the run up to parliamentary elections held in October 2010.

    February 22, 2011

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

    February 22, 2011

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    I am writing to you about the case of Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, who has been imprisoned in Iran for close to three years.  Recent developments, in particular credible reports that a death sentence against him has now been confirmed, mean that his situation has become one of urgent concern.  Amnesty International is calling on you to become personally involved in efforts to ensure that he is not executed and that other human rights violations in his case are addressed.

    Hamid Ghassemi-Shall has reportedly been charged with espionage-related offences.  He has flatly denied the accusations against him and was not provided a fair opportunity to defend himself in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards.  We are gravely concerned that he has been subject to torture and ill-treatment which Amnesty International has documented to be widespread in Iranian prisons.

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of people participating in peaceful protests and of all detainees after one demonstrator described how police tortured him and his friend repeatedly late last week.

    'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan told Amnesty International that he and a friend endured torture and other ill-treatment during hours of detention and interrogation after police arrested them in Manama, Bahrain's capital, on Friday.

    The pair were punched and beaten with sticks by police who questioned them about their role in the protests before releasing them without charge on Saturday evening.

    "The Bahrain authorities must respect the rights of people to participate in peaceful protests  and to exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, arbitrary arrest, detention or torture," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "They must also investigate the alleged torture and other ill-treatment of 'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan and his friend and hold those found responsible to account.”

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged the Egyptian military to take action to stop the use of torture and other ill treatment against detainees, amid fresh evidence of abuse.

    The call comes as former detainees have told Amnesty International they were tortured, including by whipping and with electric shocks, after being detained by members of the military in the last days before President Mubarak stood down.

    “The Egyptian military authorities have committed publicly to creating a climate of freedom and democracy after so many years of state repression. Now they must match their words with direct and immediate action,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The military authorities must intervene to end torture and other abuse of detainees, which we now know to have been taking place in military custody.”

    Recently released detainees told Amnesty International researchers in Egypt that members of the armed forces used beatings, whipping and other forms of torture and other ill-treatment to intimidate protestors and to obtain information about plans for the protests.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today published a report looking at the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain.

    The report Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. The government has failed to open independent investigations into any of the reports of torture and has actively prevented reporting of the alleged abuses.

    More broadly, the reports highlights restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain, including constraints imposed on independent human rights organizations.  

    Amnesty International’s findings are being published ahead of the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the National Action Charter, which paved the way for major political and legal reforms in Bahrain, resulting in turn in human rights improvements in the country.

    “Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    February 09, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the United Arab Emirates’ authorities to disclose the legal status and whereabouts of a man arrested apparently for expressing support for demonstrators in Egypt and Tunisia.

    Former teacher Hassan Mohammed Hassan al-Hammadi, 52, was taken from his home in the city of Khor Fakkan in the Emirate of Sharjah by State Security (Amn al-Dawla) officers on Friday evening, hours after he had reportedly expressed solidarity with the protestors in a speech to a congregation during Friday prayers.

    His current place of detention is unknown and his family have not been permitted to see him.

    He was moved on Sunday to State Security headquarters in Abu Dhabi after being charged with "disturbing public security", according to some reports, but others suggest he is still being held by State Security in Khor Fakkan.

    "Hassan al-Hammadi's arrest and incommunicado detention is particularly worrying in view of previous evidence of torture of detainees held by the Amn al-Dawla," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 07, 2011

    Former US president George W. Bush will not travel to Geneva on February 12, according to reports in the Tribune de Genève. The cancellation comes ahead of expected protests and possible legal action against the former president.
    On Friday, Amnesty International sent Genevoise and Swiss federal prosecutors a detailed factual and legal analysis of President Bush’s criminal responsibility for acts of torture he is believed to have authorised. Amnesty International concluded that Switzerland had enough information to open a criminal investigation against the former president.  
    Such an investigation would be mandatory under Switzerland’s international obligations if President Bush entered the country.
    The organizers of the event President Bush was expected to attend told the Tribune de Genève that they decided to cancel the visit because of the “controversy” it has generated.  They denied that the potential criminal investigations against the former president were a factor in the decision.

    February 07, 2011

    Amnesty International today warned that a Google employee reportedly arrested in Cairo during mass protests is facing a serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment by Egyptian security forces.

    Father of two Wael Ghuneim was arrested by Egyptian security forces on 28 January 2011 during protests in Cairo, eyewitnesses said. His whereabouts remain unknown.

    "The Egyptian authorities must immediately disclose where Wael Ghuneim is and release him or charge him with a recognizable criminal offence," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Middle and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    "He must be given access to a doctor and a lawyer of his choice and not be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. His case is just one of many that highlight the continued crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on those exercising their right to protest peacefully."

    Wael Ghuneim, who is Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, travelled to Egypt from Dubai, where he lives, on about the 23 January for a business trip.


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