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Torture

    January 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has criticised the trial and sentences handed to Indonesian soldiers who were filmed abusing Papuan prisoners. The three soldiers who were shown kicking and physically abusing Papuan villagers on film last October were today sentenced to prison terms of between eight and 10 months by a military court in Papua. The abuse video was widely circulated via Youtube.

    “It is incredible that senior Indonesian government officials have called this abuse - which included one of the men having his genitals burned – a ‘minor violation’." said Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Programme Director Donna Guest.

    “While we welcome government efforts to provide justice for the two Papuan men, the fact that the victims were too frightened to testify in person due to the lack of adequate safety guarantees, raises serious questions about the trial process."

    An Indonesian Military Court in Papua began hearing the case of soldiers – a sergeant and two privates from the Nabire 753 Infantry Battalion - earlier this month.

    January 21, 2011

    Haitian authorities have told Amnesty International they are launching an investigation into crimes against humanity committed during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule in the 1970’s and 80’s. Amnesty International’s researcher on Haiti, Gerardo Ducos, yesterday met the country’s Prosecutor, Harycidas Auguste, and Minister of Justice, Paul Denis, to discuss the need for an investigation into the abuses committed during Duvalier’s years in power.

    Ducos handed over 100 documents detailing dozens of cases of detention without trial, systematic torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions which took place in Haiti between 1971 and 1986.

    “Investigating Jean Claude Duvalier for the human rights crimes committed during his time in power is a massive step forward”, said Gerardo Ducos, “What we need to see now is a swift and impartial process, in line with international standards, that truly brings justice for those who have been waiting for too long.”

    “Torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions are crimes under international law and do not prescribe. Justice must be done if Haiti is to move forward,” said Gerardo Ducos.

    January 21, 2011

    Today, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights The ECtHR is an international judicial organ based in Strasbourg; it rules on complaints alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. Rulings of the Grand Chamber of the Court are delivered by 17 judges of the Court. The Grand Chamber’s rulings are final upon delivery. Under Article 46, the final judgments of the Court are binding on the state(s) that is (are) party(ies) to the case. (ECtHR), by a majority, ruled in the case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (application no. 30696/09) that Belgium and Greece had each violated the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

    Amnesty International considers that today’s landmark ruling will have a lasting impact by enhancing the protection of human rights of asylum-seekers in the European Union (EU).

    January 20, 2011

    The United States should investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, on a surprise visit to the US today, for his alleged role in perpetrating torture and war crimes, Amnesty International said today. Mahinda Rajapaksa reportedly left Sri Lanka early Wednesday morning with a delegation of 20 bound for the US.

    "The US has an obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute people who perpetrated war crimes and grave human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director.

    Mahinda Rajapaksa is commander in chief of Sri Lanka's armed forces, which face numerous allegations of war crimes, enforced disappearances, and torture. Under international law, military commanders may face criminal responsibility if they knew, or should have known, of such crimes being committed by their subordinates.

    January 20, 2011

    On Friday 21 January, at a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Amnesty International’s expert on Haiti, Gerardo Ducos, will provide an update on the organization’s engagement with the Haitian authorities regarding the legal case against former president Jean Claude Duvalier. Amnesty International has documented hundreds of human rights abuses committed during Duvalier’s rule (1971-1986), including detention without trial, systematic torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

    Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on 16 January after nearly 25 years in exile in France. He was briefly arrested on 18 January and is currently facing corruption-related charges.

    When: Friday 21 January, 9.30am Local Time (14:30Hs GMT).

    Where: Hotel Le Plaza, Salle Therese 2, 10 Rue Capois, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

    Who: Gerardo Ducos, Researcher on Haiti at Amnesty International.

    For more information, please contact:
    In Port-au-Prince: Carolina Roman, +509 3784 4619.
    In London: Josefina Salomon, +44 7778 472 116, jsalomon@amnesty.org

    January 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Haitian authorities to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by former president Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as 'Baby Doc', after he was detained in Port-Au-Prince. Jean-Claude Duvalier, who has been accused of presiding over numerous human rights violations during his rule from 1971 to 1986, was detained after being questioned by police on Tuesday 18 January. It is not yet clear what charges he will face.

    “This landmark arrest is a welcome first step towards bringing to justice a leader whose security apparatus carried out widespread and systematic human rights violations including torture, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances," said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    "Haiti must investigate Jean-Claude Duvalier, and anyone else allegedly responsible for such crimes, some of which amount to crimes against humanity , in a trial that is thorough, independent and fair."

    January 17, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Haitian authorities to bring former president Jean-Claude Duvalier – also known as 'Baby Doc' -- to justice for human rights abuses committed during his regime in the 1970’s and 80’s. “The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier’s rule amount to crimes against humanity. Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes," said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on 16 January after nearly 25 years in exile in France. He fled Haiti in 1986 after a popular uprising which was violently repressed by the former Haitian Armed Forces and a local militia known as the “tonton macoutes”.

    Throughout his fifteen years in power (1971-1986) systematic torture and other ill-treatment were widespread across Haiti.

    January 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Egyptian authorities to order security police to stop harassing and intimidating the family of a man allegedly tortured to death in detention after being arrested in connection with the 1 January bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria. Sayyed Bilal was detained in Alexandria on 5 January by State Security Investigations (SSI) officers, and was dead by the next day. His family filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in Alexandria alleging that he was tortured to death, and have since been reportedly threatened by the SSI officers with detention and deaths of further family members.

    “Both the death of Sayyed Bilal and the reported threats against his family are very disturbing developments and point to a continuing pattern of unlawful behaviour by the SSI, which has long been accused of using torture,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The Egyptian authorities must take immediate measures to protect the family, ensure an independent investigation into Sayyed Bilal’s death, and safeguard other detained suspects from torture or other ill-treatment.”

    January 07, 2011

    Amnesty International has welcomed the release of a former police officer detained without charge in Iraq for over two years because he was suspected of having links to armed groups. Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib was freed from a police station in Tikrit, in the north of Iraq on 30 December, more than a month after an order for his release had been issued.

    Speaking to Amnesty International on Wednesday, Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib confirmed his release without charge and said that he had not been tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held at the police station in Tikrit in recent weeks.

    "While Qusay 'Abdel-Razaq Zabib's release is welcome news, it is long overdue," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "After more than two years in detention without facing any charge or trial, it was high time that he was freed and reunited with his family."

    December 23, 2010

    Amnesty International has welcomed the sentence handed to a former Argentine president responsible for crimes against humanity in the 1970s and '80s. Jorge Videla, a former military general, was found guilty of killing dissidents during the country's "Dirty War" - a period of military rule between 1976 and 1983.

    The 85-year-old, who was the de facto president of Argentina between 1976 and 1981 after becoming the first leader of the military junta, was ruled "criminally responsible" for the torture and deaths of 31 prisoners in Córdoba.

    Twenty-nine other military officers were also found guilty for the murders by a court in the city of Córdoba on Wednesday. Among them was General Luciano Benjamín Menendez, who was also sentenced to life in prison.

    "This judgement represents another important step in the fight against impunity. Finally those responsible for the grave human rights abuses committed under past military regimes are being brought to justice," said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International's Americas Deputy Director.

    Videla was already serving a life jail term for abuses committed during the "Dirty War".

    December 22, 2010

    Amnesty International is calling on the Bangladeshi government to immediately investigate allegations that a MP for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been tortured while in police custody. Bangladeshi security forces have tortured Salauddin Quader Chowdhury during interrogations, Amnesty International has learned. This has included applying electrodes to his genitals, beating him, slitting his stomach with razors and twisting his toenails and fingernails with pliers. There are fears that he may face further torture or other ill-treatment.

    “The Bangladeshi government must ensure that Salauddin Quader Chowdhury is protected and treated properly and that these very serious allegations of torture are investigated,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher. “In particular, the authorities must ensure that he has access to the necessary specialist medical attention, including by independent doctors.”

    December 21, 2010

    Eyewitnesses have told Amnesty International that abductions, disappearances and physical abuse are increasing as post-election violence escalates in Côte d’Ivoire. Amnesty International has received a growing number of reports of people being arrested or abducted at home or on the streets, often by unidentified armed attackers accompanied by elements of the Defence and Security Forces and militia groups.

    Gendarmes and police officials are accused of attacking a mosque in Grand-Bassam, using live ammunition on crowds and of beating and groping female protestors.

    “It is clear that more and more people are being illegally detained by security forces or armed militiamen and we fear that many of them may have been killed or have disappeared,” said Salvatore Saguès, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    December 20, 2010

    Amnesty International renews its call on the Chinese authorities to release an ethnic Uighur prisoner of conscience jailed on separatism charges after his family reported that he is being tortured in a Xinjiang prison. Ablikim Abdiriyim, the son of prominent Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, told relatives visiting him last week that he has been held in solitary confinement since 3 November after witnessing an incident that prison authorities wanted to keep quiet. His health has since deteriorated sharply.

    The news comes exactly a year after 20 Uighur asylum-seekers were forcibly deported to China from Cambodia. China has not made public the whereabouts of the group, which included two children, since they were seized on 19 December 2009.

    "The alleged torture of Ablikim Abdiriyim is the latest example of systematic human rights abuses suffered by China's Uighur population at the hands of the Chinese authorities," said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific deputy director at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2010

    Amnesty International has condemned the Spanish authorities’ decision to forcibly return a man accused of terrorism-related offences to Morocco where he faces the risk of torture, incommunicado detention and unfair trial. Ali Aarrass was extradited from Spain to Morocco last Tuesday. The dual Belgian-Moroccan national had been held in Spain since his arrest in April 2008.

    The Moroccan authorities accuse him of belonging to a terrorist network headed by Abdelkader Belliraj, a Belgian-Moroccan national who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year in Morocco after he and others were convicted of planning terrorist acts.

    "By forcibly returning Ali Aarrass to Morocco, the Spanish authorities have exposed him to a serious risk of torture and other human rights violations amid persistent reports of abuses by Moroccan security forces committed in the name of countering terrorism," said Andrea Huber, Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    December 14, 2010

    The Australian government’s newly announced policy of transferring prisoners detained in Afghanistan to Afghan and United States forces could violate international law, Amnesty International warned today. On 14 December 2010, Australian Minister of Defence, Stephen Smith, announced an agreement for managing detainees, with allegedly ‘high risk’ prisoners handed over to the US, ‘low risk’ prisoners handed to Afghan forces, and the remainder of those being held released.

    “The handover of detainees to the US and Afghan forces raises real concerns about potential human rights abuses,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “The US continues to hold prisoners without access to fair legal processes. And the Afghan National Directorate of Security, which runs some of the detention facilities, is all too often linked to disturbing accounts of torture and mistreatment.”

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