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    March 05, 2015

    The deliberate blinding of a man who was convicted of pouring acid on another man's face causing him to go blind is a gruesome example of Iran's brutal justice system in action, said Amnesty International.

    The man was forcibly blinded in his left eye on 3 March after being sentenced to “retribution-in-kind” (qesas) for throwing acid on the eyes of another man in the city of Qom in August 2009. The blinding of his right eye was postponed until a later date. In addition to this punishment he was ordered to pay "blood money" (diyah) and sentenced to 10 years in prison.  

    “Punishing someone by deliberately blinding them is an unspeakably cruel and shocking act," said Raha Bahreini, Amnesty International's Iran Researcher.

    March 05, 2015

    Tomorrow marks eight weeks since the Saudi Arabian authorities publicly flogged the blogger and activist Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam” and founding an online forum for political debate.

    After his first session of 50 lashes in front of a mosque in Jeddah on 9 January, a doctor advised prison authorities that his wounds had not healed sufficiently for him to undergo the second round of this brutal punishment.

    The following Friday, while a medical committee had advised that Raif Badawi should not be flogged because of high blood pressure, another prison doctor insisted that there was nothing wrong with him and that he should be flogged. Then, for five consecutive weeks the Friday floggings were not carried out for reasons that remain unknown. It is anybody’s guess whether the next part of his sentence will be carried out tomorrow.

    Raif Badawi has made headlines around the world. But his case is just the tip of the iceberg for the Gulf Kingdom’s appalling human rights record. Here are 10 sobering facts from Amnesty International’s research:

    March 04, 2015

    A string of deaths in custody has thrown the spotlight on torture and horrific detention conditions at a police station in the Mattareya district of Cairo where at least three people died last week, said Amnesty International.

    Two of the deaths took place on the same day last week and according to the forensic authority in Cairo, one of the bodies bore marks consistent with torture or other ill-treatment. Since April 2014 at least nine detainees have died at Mattareya Police Station according to information gathered by Amnesty International, yet so far investigations have been half-hearted and no one has been held accountable.

    “The pattern of deaths in custody emerging at Mattareya Police Station is distressing. The authorities cannot continue to sweep rampant abuses under the carpet, and families are growing frustrated with the authorities’ unwillingness to hold perpetrators to account,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    February 18, 2015

    Marines broke into Claudia Medina's home in Veracruz City on August 7, 2012 and took her away to a naval base where she was subjected to physical, sexual and psychological torture.

    February 18, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The messages that arrived in my inbox could not be ignored! They were bursting with positive emotion as they told of an important victory over injustice in Mexico.

    The texts were sent by Claudia Medina, a woman whose experience of torture and persecution had so moved me and other members of an Amnesty Canada delegation that visited Mexico last September.

    When we met Claudia five months ago, she was living with the traumatic scars of what was done to her while she was detained at a naval base in 2012: the beatings, the hot peppers forced up her nose, the electric shocks, the sexual assault. Her torturers added psychological torture, threatening to rape her with a metal bar and bring in her children to the torture chamber unless Claudia “confessed” to involvement in an armed, criminal gang.

    Not surprisingly, Claudia signed the “confession” she was not allowed to read and hung her head as she was presented as a dangerous criminal at a press conference by security forces anxious to show results in its "war on drugs".

    February 16, 2015

    New harrowing testimony collected by Amnesty International experts in Yemen reveal how members of the Huthi armed group are torturing protesters in a bid to dissuade dissent.

    “The Huthi stooped to a dangerous new level of intimidation and violence to strike fear into anyone protesting their rule,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, currently in Yemen.

    “Testimonies reveal how protestors have been detained and tortured for days on end. The safety of all those who dare to speak out against the Huthi rule is on the line.”

    Among those who spoke to Amnesty International are Ali Taher al-Faqih, 34, and ‘Abdeljalil al-Subari, 40, who were seized during a peaceful demonstration in Sana’a on 11 February (held to commemorate the 11 February 2011 uprising). The two men were arrested alongside Salah ‘Awdh al-Bashri, a 35-year-old father of seven, who later died from the injuries he suffered after hours of torture.

    February 12, 2015
    Claudia Medina with Amnesty activists from Canada holding a banner with solidarity messages. (c) Amnesty International

    By Mariano Machain, Amnesty International’s campaigner on Mexico.

    I have seen Claudia Medina cry many times.

    She cried when she told me about the torture, including sexual abuse, she suffered at the hands of Mexican marines in 2012. She also cried when she explained what it is like to live with federal charges pending over her head, accused of being a member of a criminal gang, facing the risk of being arrested again at any time. Then once more when she told me about how her children were suffering.

    But today is the first time I have seen her cry out of joy and relief. A judge has just dropped the last remaining charge against her, arguing that the sole piece of evidence – a report filed by the marines – is a lie.

    The judge confirmed that after her arrest Claudia was tortured and sexually assaulted by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug-related crimes. The offences took place on 7 August 2012 at a Navy barracks in Veracruz state, Eastern Mexico.

    February 11, 2015

    A heavy cloud has been lifted from a courageous survivor of torture.

    Mexican authorities have dropped all criminal charges against Claudia Medina Tamariz, a Mexican woman who was tortured and forced into a false confession.

    In 2012, marines broke into the home of Claudia Medina Tamariz, mother of three. They took her away to a local naval base. There, Claudia suffered terrible torture, including electric shocks and sexual assault.

    The torture was aimed at forcing Claudia to incriminate herself in drug-related crimes. To make the torture stop, Claudia signed a piece of paper put before her. She later discovered it was a “confession” to crimes she had not committed.

    Amnesty International members in Canada, and around the world, rallied to support Claudia and express concern to Mexican authorities about was done to her.

    Your efforts have made a difference!

    This is what Claudia had to say when she learned all the charges had been dropped:

    February 02, 2015

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, in conversation with Dr. Donald Payne, Health Network Coordinator

    January 29, 2015

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

    January 28, 2015

     

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter with an urgent request that you intervene in the case of Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger and human rights defender who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and other penalties and restrictions, simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression.  As you will know, there is a strong Canadian connection to the case because Canada has, very commendably, welcomed his wife Ensaf Haidar and their three young children to this country as refugees.

    January 27, 2015

    Human rights activists from Sherbrooke, Montreal and Ottawa will be holding a rally on Parliament Hill on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 2 p.m. calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene directly with Saudi Arabian authorities to stop the flogging of Raif Badawi set to resume on Friday 30 January, and press for him to be unconditionally freed from prison.

    Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, will be flogged for a second time. Amnesty International believes Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. His wife Ensaf Haider and their three children have found refuge in Canada living in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

    January 26, 2015

                                      New video spoofs “wheel of torture”

    One year ago this week, the revelation that Philippine police in Laguna had used a “wheel of torture” to decide how to torture detainees shocked the world. But despite the global headlines, one year later no one has been held to account – a sad indictment of the police’s casual attitude towards torture and the almost complete impunity that surrounds it.

    To mark the anniversary, Amnesty International has produced Torture: More fun in the Philippines, a short satirical film based on a popular TV game show. One contestant spins the “wheel of torture” to try to get a lawyer, but instead “wins” the prize of being punched for 30 seconds straight. The film’s title is used ironically – “More fun in the Philippines” is also the slogan of the country’s Tourism Board.

    January 23, 2015

     By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.

    The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.

    “What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.

    The answer is not simple.  

    Since taking the throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated some positive reforms.

    Women, for example, have slowly been included in the Shura Council, a powerless consultative body to advise the King, and incorporated into the workforce – with some being allowed to work in courts as lawyers.

    The late King is credited for opening a dozen new universities and providing thousands of Saudi Arabian citizens with generous scholarships to study abroad. He also initiated seemingly ambitious judicial reforms that have not really gone anywhere.  

    He even decreed the founding of a formal National Human Rights Commission and allowed the establishment of a supposedly independent human rights organization.

    But that’s where the good news ends.

    January 22, 2015

    The planned flogging of Raif Badawi is likely to be suspended this Friday after a medical committee assessed that he should not undergo a second round of lashes on health grounds. The committee, comprised of around eight doctors, carried out a series of tests on Raif Badawi at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah yesterday and recommended that the flogging should not be carried out.

    "Instead of continuing to torment Raif Badawi by dragging out his ordeal with repeated assessments the authorities should publicly announce an end to his flogging and release him immediately and unconditionally," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    "Raif Badawi is still at risk, there is no way of knowing whether the Saudi Arabian authorities will disregard the medical advice and allow the flogging to go ahead."
     

    January 19, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 20 January 2015

    European governments that cooperated with the CIA’s secret detention, interrogation, and torture operations as part of the USA’s global “war on terror” must act urgently to bring those responsible to justice following a US Senate report containing new details said Amnesty International in a new briefing paper today.

    “Breaking the conspiracy of silence: USA's European 'partners in crime’ must act after Senate torture report” links details in the Senate report to open source information regarding allegations that secret sites existed in Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Other governments that are alleged in open sources to have facilitated these operations include Germany, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the UK. In some cases, these governments colluded with the CIA in exchange for millions of US dollars.

    This briefing also highlights the inadequate responses of the respective governments to carry out full and effective investigations.

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