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Torture

    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.

    February 01, 2011

    On Wednesday, February 2, 2011, lawyers for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will present their final submissions before the Military Police Complaints Commission. In 2008, the Commission launched the Afghanistan Public Interest Hearing to investigate the role of military police officers in the transfers of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces to risk of torture by Afghan security forces.

    The evidence presented to the Commission over the course of these hearings has been disturbing, and paints a troubling picture of abdication of responsibility by senior members of the military police and startling lack of concern across government agencies for the fate of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces.

    January 31, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of Palestinian human rights activists after a well-known campaigner in Haifa was jailed for nine years and given an additional one-year suspended sentence earlier today.
     
    Ameer Makhoul, a longstanding Palestinian activist, was convicted on various counts of having contact with enemies of Israel and espionage after a plea bargain agreement at his trial. He was originally charged with an even more serious offence, "assisting an enemy in war", which could have carried a life sentence, but that was dropped by the prosecution when he agreed to a plea bargain.
     
    "Ameer Makhoul's jailing is a very disturbing development and we will be studying the details of the sentencing as soon as we can," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
     
    "Ameer Makhoul is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment."
     

    January 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the US authorities to alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. The US army private, 23, has been held for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished solitary cell and deprived of a pillow, sheets, and personal possessions since July 2010.

    Amnesty International last week wrote to the US Defence secretary, Robert Gates, calling for the restrictions on Bradley Manning to be reviewed. In the same week, the soldier suffered several days of increased restrictions by being temporarily categorised as a 'suicide risk'.

    "We are concerned that the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities," said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s Programme Director for the Americas.

    "Manning has not been convicted of any offence, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention. This undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence."

    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.

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