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    April 27, 2017

    Following today’s Extraordinary African Chambers appeal judgment in Senegal upholding the conviction of the former Chadian President Hissène Habré for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, and the sentence of life imprisonment, but acquitting him of rape, Amnesty International’s Erica Bussey said:

    “Today’s judgment marks another significant milestone in the long and determined quest for justice by former President Hissène Habré’s victims.”

    “This will inspire victims of serious human rights violations elsewhere to overcome the many obstacles on the path to justice. But we hope the judgement will also pave the way for other African countries to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes under international law or for the establishment of similar hybrid courts, such as in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.”

    April 27, 2017

    Citizens’ groups, Indigenous peoples, human rights and environmental organizations are asking British Columbia MPs to take a message to Ottawa.

    “British Columbia’s Site C dam is one of the largest megaprojects of our generation,” said Andrea Morison, Executive Director of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “Our political leaders cannot continue to ignore the devastating impacts it will have on our waters and on the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

    More than 120,000 people have signed petitions, postcards and letters calling for an immediate halt to construction. Petitions were presented to BC MPs today as they prepared to return to the House of Commons after a Parliamentary break.

    Organizers included Amnesty International Canada, Leadnow, Sierra Club BC, the Peace Valley Environment Association, KAIROS, Keepers of the Water, Peace Valley Landowners Association, Alliance4Democracy and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

    April 25, 2017

    Ahead of a debate in the Honduran congress today over the country’s criminalization of abortion, Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said:

    “By criminalizing abortion, the Honduran Penal Code is incompatible with human rights standards and must be modified without delay.”

    “Preventing women from exercising their human rights by stopping them from being able to make decisions over their own bodies only puts their health and lives in danger.”

    As part of a wider debate on the country’s Penal Code, the Honduran Congress will debate proposed changes that would allow for abortions when the health of the pregnant woman is at risk, when the pregnancy was the result of rape and in cases of foetal impairment that is incompatible with life.

    In a report last year, Amnesty International documented many abuses – some of which may amount to torture — faced by women across the Americas as a consequence of the criminalization of abortion services in some countries in the region.

    April 27, 2017
    The arrest of nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists is the latest sign the authorities are intent on punishing dissenting voices about the future political status of the city, Amnesty International said. Police arrested the nine people involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement on Thursday morning. They are reported to face charges of public disorder and unlawful assembly for their involvement in a largely peaceful protest last November against a central government ruling on Hong Kong’s Basic Law.   "The repeated use of vague charges against prominent figures in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement reeks of an orchestrated and retaliatory campaign by the authorities to punish those that advocate for democracy in Hong Kong,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.   “The Hong Kong government should be protecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly but instead it appears intent on intimidating people who are challenging the authorities. Arrests and prosecutions aimed at shutting down participation in peaceful protests must stop.”  
    April 27, 2017

    Mexico’s new General Law on Torture is a welcome step forward to tackle the country´s human rights crisis. Authorities must now ensure all those responsible for these heinous crimes under international law face justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Mexican Congress today finally passed the General Law on Torture which was promised over two years ago by the Mexican president after a national public outcry following massive human rights violations in the case of 43 disappeared students. The Mexican Senate today approved a final version which had been debated by both chambers of Congress.

    “Unless the Mexican authorities make a real effort to ensure all those responsible for the thousands of cases of torture reported every year across the country are brought to justice, this law will be nothing but words on paper. We must not allow this to continue to be the case,” said Tania Reneaum, Director at Amnesty International Mexico.

    Torture is a widespread practice in Mexico. People are routinely tortured in an attempt to force them to sign false “confessions”.

    April 27, 2017

    Attacks on civilians in the first three months of this year and the inability of the Afghan government to ensure their adequate protection show that Afghanistan remains an unsafe country for refugees to be returned to, Amnesty International said today.

    “At a time when civilian casualties remain high, with women and children suffering the worst of the violence, it is reckless of governments to claim that Afghanistan is safe for refugees to return,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    Since the withdrawal of the international military forces from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 the security situation in the country has seriously deteriorated with increased civilian casualties and a growing internal displacement crisis in the country. The Taliban now control more territory than at any point since 2001.

    The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recently released a report on civilian casualties containing data documenting 715 deaths and 1,466 injuries during the first quarter of 2017.

    Kabul, the Afghan capital, suffered the highest levels of civilian casualties, followed by Helmand, Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces.

    April 26, 2017

    Venezuelan authorities are using the justice system to illegally increase persecution and punishment of those who think differently, says Amnesty International in a new report published today amidst an increase in protests around the country which have resulted in several deaths and hundreds of people injured and imprisoned.

    Silenced By Force: Politically-Motivated Arbitrary Detentions in Venezuela provides details on a catalogue of illegal actions on the part of the Venezuelan authorities to repress freedom of expression.

    These include arrests conducted by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, SEBIN) without a warrant, the prosecution of non-violent activists for crimes ‘against the homeland’ and the unjustified use of pre-trial detention and smear campaigns in the media against members of the political opposition, among other measures.

    April 25, 2017

    Bahrain’s authorities have dramatically escalated their crackdown against perceived critics with 32 people summoned for questioning by the Public Prosecution within the past five days and charges brought against the majority of them, said Amnesty International, less than a week ahead of the country’s UN human rights review session in Geneva on 1 May.

    Those summoned include human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, a journalist and relatives of victims of human rights violations, raising fears that they are being targeted as part of a deliberate attempt to stop them – and deter others - from criticizing Bahrain ahead of and during its upcoming review at the UN Human Rights Council.

    “The intensified crackdown against Bahraini dissidents in recent days is highly alarming and exposes the shocking extremes to which Bahrain’s authorities are prepared to go to silence criticism of their human rights record,” said Samah Hadid Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut Office

    April 25, 2017

    Reacting to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe vote to reintroduce full monitoring of the ‘functioning of democratic institutions’ in Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher said:

    “This welcome decision sends a clear and powerful message that Turkey must end its crackdown on human rights.

    “With this vote, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has made it clear to the authorities that human rights cannot be trampled underfoot without scrutiny and ultimately consequences.

    “It sends a strong signal to Turkish civil society, journalists and victims of human rights abuses that the Council of Europe is willing to use all the available tools to bring Turkey back to compliance to the commitments it signed up to when it joined the organisation.”

    On 3 May World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International will turn the spotlight onto Turkey’s treatment of journalists, calling for their release from pre-trial detention.

    Background

    April 25, 2017

    With mounting evidence of government involvement in thousands of extrajudicial executions in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, Amnesty International is calling on regional leaders to take a stand against possible crimes against humanity as they meet at the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila this week.

    “While they meet in their comfortable surroundings, ASEAN leaders should spare a thought for the thousands of people who have been killed as part of Duterte’s brutal crackdown. The vast majority are from marginalized and neglected communities, making it effectively a war on the poor,” said Champa Patel, Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

    “As the death toll mounts, so does evidence of the Philippines authorities’ role in the bloodshed. That the Philippines is chairing the ASEAN Summit against this horrifying backdrop is a scandal, and should prompt the government to make independent and effective investigations into unlawful killings an immediate priority. They must send a clear message that there will be accountability and an end to such shocking violations.”

    April 24, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    NEW YORK – Arkansas executed Jack Jones today, the second of four prisoners scheduled to be executed before the state’s supply of lethal injections expires at the end of the month. Jones was sentenced to death despite the fact that the jury was not told of his serious mental disabilities. The execution of Marcel Williams, also scheduled for tonight, remained under appeal at the time of Jones’ death.

    “Tonight Arkansas continues its shameful backslide against prevailing trends away from the death penalty. The sentences of Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are another heinous example of how the death penalty is applied to people with severe mental impairments and history of abuse. This conveyer belt of death must stop immediately by commuting the remaining sentences, and abolishing the death penalty once and for all.”

    April 25, 2017
    Reports Saudi Arabia-led coalition is gearing up for major military offensive Key port city of Hodeidah is a major entry point for humanitarian aid UN donor conference under way in Geneva

    Fears are growing for the safety of civilians in the strategic western port city of Hodeidah amid reports that a major offensive by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is due to get under way soon, said Amnesty International as UN states meet at a donor conference in Geneva on 25 April.

    As well as putting civilian lives at grave risk, an assault on the country’s fourth most populated city that seriously disrupts the functioning of the port risks cutting off a crucial lifeline to a country that is 80% dependent on imports exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation.

    April 25, 2017

    “These first 100 days show how dangerous Trump’s agenda is, and they’re also a roadmap for how to stop it and protect human rights in the U.S. and around the world.”

    WASHINGTON – As the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s administration come to a close, Amnesty International has compiled a list of 100 ways the Trump administration has tried to threaten human rights in the U.S. and around the world – sometimes succeeding, and sometimes being blocked by a powerful and growing resistance movement.

    April 24, 2017

    The conviction and sentencing of a journalist by a military court in Cameroon to 10 years in prison after an unfair trial is a travesty of justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Ahmed Abba, a journalist for Radio France Internationale's Hausa service was handed down 10 years of imprisonment after having been convicted on 20 April on charges of "non-denunciation of terrorism" and "laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts”. He was also fined 84,000 euro. The journalist was acquitted of the charge of "glorifying acts of terrorism."

    “Ahmed Abba’s conviction, after torture and an unfair trial, is clear evidence that Cameroon’s military courts are not competent to try civilians and should not have jurisdiction in these cases,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher.

    April 24, 2017

    Amnesty International Ireland Release

    Overwhelming vote for complete constitutional and legal reform an important vindication of women’s and girls’ human rights

    Amnesty International today applauded the Citizens’ Assembly’s resounding vote against retaining the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s Constitution, and its vote to give the Oireachtas unrestricted power to legislate for abortion. It described the Assembly’s two-thirds majority vote for access to abortion on request at least in early pregnancy, and even greater majority votes for later gestational limits in specific circumstances, an important vindication of women’s and girls’ human rights.

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