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    March 22, 2017

    The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA), of which Amnesty International Canada is a member, is concerned and disappointed that the 2017 federal budget failed to announce the creation of a human rights ombudsperson for the extractive sector.

    Communities, workers, and indigenous peoples outside of Canada whose human rights are impacted by Canadian extractive companies have few options to have their voices heard and their problems remedied. They continue to wait for the Canadian government to address the international corporate accountability gap and to advance human rights around the globe.

    “The Government of Canada has said it shares the goal of ensuring that Canadian extractive companies respect the rights of all people, no matter where they operate”, said Moderator Jordan Cantwell of the United Church of Canada. “What we don’t know is why we haven’t yet seen concrete action when a ready-to-go proposal for a human rights ombudsperson has been handed to them.”

    March 22, 2017

    British national Violette Uwamahoro, the pregnant wife of a political opposition activist living in exile, who was arrested by Rwandan authorities and held incommunicado, will make her first appearance in court at a bail hearing in the capital Kigali tomorrow, said Amnesty International.

    Violette Uwamahoro, who lives in the UK with her two children, disappeared in Kigali on 14 February. She had returned to the country to attend her father’s funeral. She had just called a family member to let them know she was arriving at the city’s main bus station when her phone went dead.

    Rwandan government officials initially denied knowledge of her whereabouts, before the police confirmed on 3 March that she was in their custody.

    “Violette Uwamahoro was illegally held without access to lawyers or her family for more than two weeks. This is an unacceptable breach of Rwandan and international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region.

    March 22, 2017

    Pakistan’s lawmakers must immediately reverse their decision to reinstate military courts, Amnesty International said today.

    Two months after their original mandate of two years lapsed, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill to reinstate military courts that violate international law, strip defendants of key rights, and operate in notorious secrecy.

    “Military courts have no business trying civilians. There is no fair process involved where trials are held in secrecy, there is no right to appeal, and judges may be unqualified to preside in judgment,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Adviser on South Asia.

    “By surrendering the judicial system to the military, Pakistan’s lawmakers have failed in their duty to support an independent civilian judiciary. They are recklessly abandoning people to a court system that has in the last two years produced coerced confessions, unfair trials and executions.”

    Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about the charges or evidence against the suspects, or the sentences given, is made available in the public domain.

    March 22, 2017

    Bangladesh must halt the imminent executions of three men sentenced to death for a grenade attack on the UK Ambassador, Amnesty International said.

    Prison authorities in Bangladesh today confirmed that the executions of Mufti Abdul Hannan, Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul and Delwar Hossain Ripon – all alleged members of the banned armed group Harkat-ul-Jihad (HuJI) – would be carried out soon. They were all convicted of and sentenced to death over an attack in 2004 which injured the then-UK High Commissioner, Anwar Choudhury, and killed three people.

    “These executions must be stopped immediately. While those found responsible for crimes after fair trials should be punished, the death penalty is never the solution. It’s dismaying that the Bangladeshi authorities are looking to take more lives in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’,” said Olof Blomqvist, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher.

    March 22, 2017

    A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said Amnesty International.

    Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday 20 March, his wife told Amnesty International. 

    He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people.”  His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

    March 21, 2017

    An unabated wave of threats, killings and forced displacement of hundreds of peaceful villagers in north-western Colombia is a frightening illustration that the armed conflict is far from over, months after a peace accord was signed, warned Amnesty International on the 20th anniversary of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.

    “Alarmingly, in large parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is as alive as ever. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have yet to see any difference in their lives since the peace accords were signed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The peace community of San José de Apartadó shows how Colombians have been bravely fighting for justice for decades, virtually alone. They are an example for the fight to protect human rights, so essential to all in Colombia.”

    March 20, 2017

    The Bahraini authorities have once again displayed their ruthless determination to silence activists and crush all signs of dissent by charging prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif with “inciting hatred against the regime” in a series of tweets, said Amnesty International.

    Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of secular opposition party, the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was summoned for questioning this morning by the prosecution unit for terrorist crimes. He was released shortly afterwards but only after being informed that he was being charged with “incitement to hatred against the regime” over a series of tweets. One of the tweets included an Amnesty International social media graphic featuring 20 individuals who have been imprisoned in violation of their human rights since the 2011 uprising.

    “Once again Ebrahim Sharif is being unjustly punished simply for exercizing his right to freedom of expression. The charge against him is ludicrous and must be dropped immediately,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s office in Beirut.

    March 20, 2017

    Following the arrest of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor at 3:15AM local time after a lengthy room-by-room search of his apartment, Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, said:

    “Amnesty International is appalled and dismayed at this surprise overnight raid resulting in the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, a courageous and prominent human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.

    “We believe Ahmed Mansoor was detained for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, and we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

    At around midnight, 10 male and two female uniformed security officials stormed the family’s apartment and carried out a lengthy room-by-room search, including of the children’s bedroom. They confiscated electronic devices and took Ahmed Mansoor away at around 3:15AM local time. They did not inform his wife where he was being taken.

    March 20, 2017

    Amnesty International Canada is pleased to announce the 2016 Youth Media Award winner is: “Untitled: The Legacy of Land in North Preston”, http://northprestonland.ca/ produced by Radio-Television-Journalism students* at Nova Scotia Community College. They are the second winners of the Youth Media Award for human rights journalism from a Canadian post-secondary institution.

    Amnesty International judge, Rick MacInnes-Rae, describes “Untitled as a digital documentary that explores the denial of land ownership to blacks in Nova Scotia. It is framed as a 200 year-old injustice in which a group of Canadians are still being refused title to their own property because of the colour of their skin.”

    The award will be presented at the annual Amnesty International Media Awards gala event on Wednesday April 5 at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.  The Awards honour excellence in human rights coverage in Canadian media.

    March 17, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the announcement that settlement has been reached and the federal government will provide Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin with compensation, including an official apology, for Canada’s role in the grave human rights violations, including torture, that the three men experienced in Syria, and also Egypt in Mr. Abou-Elmaati’s case, between 2001 and 2004. The organization pays tribute to the three men and their families for all that they have endured.

    March 17, 2017

    The EU-Turkey deal which has resulted in the suffering of thousands of refugees and migrants is a stain on the collective conscience of Europe, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the agreement.

    The deal aimed at returning asylum-seekers back to Turkey on the premise that Turkey is safe for them, has failed on its own terms but left thousands exposed to squalid and unsafe conditions on Greek islands

    “Today marks a dark day in the history of refugee protection: one in which Europe’s leaders attempted to buy themselves out of their international obligations, heedless of the cost in human misery,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    “A year ago, the Greek islands were transformed into de facto holding pens, as Europe’s shores went from being sites of sanctuary into places of peril. One year on, thousands remain stranded in a dangerous, desperate and seemingly endless limbo.”

    March 17, 2017

    Myanmar’s authorities must immediately act on the urgent calls made in an interim report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

    “The authorities must immediately act on the Rakhine Commission’s recommendations to grant humanitarian access, end the media blackout in northern Rakhine State, and ensure the perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    On 16 March 2017, the Commission published its interim report, with recommendations to the Myanmar government on “improving the welfare of all people in Rakhine state”. The report’s authors said their recommendations must be met with “urgent action” by the Myanmar authorities.

    “Unfortunately, the commission’s recommendations do not far enough to address the increasingly dire situation on the ground. There is much more the authorities can and should do, including lifting restrictions on freedom of movement for the Rohingya and other Muslims,” said Champa Patel. 

    March 17, 2017

    The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s governing body must continue to scrutinize Qatar’s record on migrant labour abuse, Amnesty International said, ahead of a crucial 21 March decision on a complaint brought by trade unions against the Gulf state.

    Last week the government stated it had “repealed” its controversial sponsorship law, including the requirement that migrant workers obtain an exit permit from their employers to leave the country. Amnesty International does not accept this claim and considers that there are not currently sufficient grounds to close the complaint against Qatar. The organization is calling for the ILO’s complaint process to continue, in line with a draft decision issued ahead of Tuesday’s session.

    “This is a critical juncture for migrant workers in Qatar. The government has made some public commitments in response to ILO pressure, but its claims that it has abolished the sponsorship system simply do not add up,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

    March 16, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Following a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, executive director at Amnesty International USA had the following reaction:

    “As long as this hateful policy remains, it will continue to be fought in courts while thousands of people and families are trapped in uncertainty. Congress can end this by passing legislation that effectively nullifies the ban. This decision against the ban tells us what we already know: this is anti-Muslim bigotry falsely packaged as security. Hatred won’t make us safe. The ban must be repealed now.”

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    March 14, 2017

    Released  00.01 GMT 15 March 2017

    As war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to go unpunished in Syria, an Amnesty International campaign marking the sixth anniversary of the crisis calls on world leaders to take immediate action to deliver justice, truth and reparation to the millions of victims of the conflict.

    The Justice for Syria campaign calls on governments to end impunity and make accountability a reality for the Syrian people by supporting and funding the investigative mechanism on Syria voted for by the UN General Assembly in December 2016 and by enforcing universal jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute, in their own courts, suspected perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

    “Six harrowing years on, there is no excuse for allowing the horrific crimes under international law that are being committed in Syria to go unpunished,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office.

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