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Media advisories

    August 19, 2014

    The resumption of Israeli air strikes and rocket fire from Gaza underscores the imperative need to grant human rights groups immediate access to monitor the situation, said Amnesty International today.

    Since the beginning of Israel’s military operation on 8 July 2014 in Gaza, Israeli authorities have denied repeated requests by Amnesty International to enter Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. The organization also requested access from Egyptian authorities, who so far have not granted it.

    “The apparent resumption of Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire today is another reminder that our access to the Gaza Strip cannot wait. Valuable time has already been lost and it is essential that human rights organizations are now able to begin the vital job of examining allegations of war crimes,” said Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Crisis Response.

    “The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll in the region has risen.”

    July 29, 2014

    Longstanding impunity for crimes against humanity in Kosovo will be challenged after today’s announcement that former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) will be indicted for the abduction, inhumane treatment and killing of Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians believed to oppose the KLA in 1999, Amnesty International said today.

    In a statement for the Special Investigative Task Force, established by the EU, Chief Prosecutor Clint Williamson outlined charges to be brought against senior KLA officials.

    “This is hopefully a step towards justice for the families of up to 400 Kosovo Serbs believed to have been abducted by the KLA, and subsequently transferred to Albania, where they are alleged to have been killed,” said Sian Jones, Amnesty International’s researcher on Kosovo.

    In a welcome move, the Chief Prosecutor recognized the wide-spread and systematic nature of the abductions and murders, and assured that former senior KLA officials will be indicted for crimes against humanity.

    July 10, 2014

    Amnesty International spokespeople available for interview

    As US Edward Snowden seeks to extend his stay in Russia, Amnesty International called for effective international protection for whistleblowers.

    “Edward Snowden has been effectively punished to live in exile with no long-term security only for exposing serious abuses of power,” said Michael Bochenek, Senior Director for International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “It is high time for governments across the world to stop persecuting people whose only ‘crime’ is to bring to light information that is in the public interest.”

    The former National Security Agency contractor’s one-year permit to stay in Russia is due to expire at the end of July.

    Possible talking points:
    ·        Persecution of whistleblowers globally, particularly in the USA.
    ·        Right to privacy.
    ·        NSA surveillance programme.

     

    May 30, 2014

    Tuesday June 3, 2014, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

    10:00 am – Press Conference, Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block
    10:30 am – Commemoration Reception, Room 505 Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street

    On the 25th anniversary of the brutal crackdown of student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, three Canadians will present their first-hand accounts of the events in the square that night at a 10:00 am press conference at Charles Lynch hosted by David Sweet, MP on Parliament Hill.  They will be introduced by Cheuk Kwan, Chair, Toronto Association for Democracy in China and will bear witness to a massacre that the Chinese government is anxious to erase from our memory.

    Ms. Liane Lee 李蘭菊, representative of the Hong Kong Federation of Students in 1989
    Mr. Yuguo Chen 陳育國, lecturer in political science at Beijing University in 1989
    The Hon. Jim Munson, CTV Beijing Bureau Chief in 1989

    The press conference will be followed by a 10:30 am commemoration reception hosted by the Hon. Consiglio Di Nino at 505 Victoria Building. They will be joined by:

    May 14, 2014

    The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) is blinding investors to the toxic legacy of Bhopal, Amnesty International said ahead of the corporation’s AGM on Thursday. The company has blocked a shareholder resolution asking for a report on the financial, reputational and operational impact of the catastrophe on Dow’s business.

     “Dow’s refusal to talk about the Bhopal disaster ignores the continued suffering of the local community, and is an irresponsible business move,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “Dow’s Bhopal problems aren’t about to go away simply by ignoring them.”

    There will be no discussion at the AGM of the consequences of impending criminal and civil court proceedings relating to the 1984 gas leak which resulted in the deaths of thousands, as well as ongoing damage to the health and environment of local communities.

    May 02, 2014

    At least six media workers have been detained since the turn of the year as Myanmar authorities are stepping up a disturbing crackdown on freedom of expression and jailing new prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

    “The crackdown on free media in Myanmar is a deeply worrying attempt to silence dissenting views. It casts doubt on the government’s promises to improve respect for human rights,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “We are seeing a continuation of the practice of arresting and detaining human rights defenders and peaceful political activists – a hallmark of the country’s previous military government.”

    “Myanmar must immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience including the six media workers who have been detained this year. The authorities should scrap or amend draconian legislation that restricts the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

    April 28, 2014

    (Ottawa, ON) – Two weeks before the Canadian government must submit its 2014 report on the human rights effects of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Amnesty International and the Assembly of First Nations will hold a press conference to speak out about the worsening human rights emergency that threatens the very survival of scores of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, many living in areas earmarked for resource extraction.

    The press conference in Ottawa comes a day after Indigenous, labour and environmental organizations in Bogota, Colombia make public a report expressing concern about the impact of Canadian mining projects and underscoring the responsibilities of Canada to ensure Canadian-based companies uphold human rights.

    April 26, 2014

    Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Libya’s former intelligence chief, Abdallah al-Senussi, are among 37 former government officials who are standing trial in Libya on charges relating to the 2011 uprising and subsequent armed conflict. Their court proceedings – via video link for some of the defendants – resumes on Sunday, 27 April.

    Libya has repeatedly insisted it is able to ensure a fair trial for all defendants. However, Amnesty International has serious doubts about the capacity of Libya’s judiciary to guarantee a fair trial for former members of the al-Gaddafi regime.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has also charged Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdallah al-Senussi with crimes against humanity.

    On 14 April a court ordered that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, who remains in militia custody, and six other defendants held in Misratah may be tried via video link, a move that will seriously undermine their rights to a fair trial. For further information see: Libya: Trial of former al-Gaddafi officials by video link.

    March 06, 2014

    Presidential candidates must champion, not sideline, human rights, Amnesty International said today in an agenda for change aimed at candidates campaigning ahead of the 5 April vote.

    “There have been undeniable human rights improvements in Afghanistan over the past decade, but the situation is still bleak for millions across the country. Conflict-related violations and appalling levels of violence against women and girls are just two of the issues that must top the agenda for the next administration,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Candidates cannot afford to treat human rights as a second-string issue. Any more trading away of rights in Afghanistan for short-term gain will move the country backwards rather than forwards after 2014,”

    Almost complete impunity for past human rights abuses and war crimes persists in Afghanistan. Many of those now running for president or vice-president are facing serious allegations of complicity in such crimes.

    February 11, 2014

    Following an initial review into the Qatar 2022 workers’ welfare standards published today, Amnesty International has issued the following response.

    "The standards represent a positive - if partial - effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on World Cup projects," said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf. 

    “While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar; those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.”

    The standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers in Qatar including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup including roads, hotels and railways.

    February 11, 2014

    Amnesty International is launching a global campaign against police impunity in Ukraine.

    Hundreds of people have been wounded by police, some very seriously, during the EuroMaydan anti-government protests in Kyiv as well as in other cities in Ukraine since 21 November 2013. There have been at least four fatalities. Some protestors have been abducted by unknown assailants and tortured – one was found dead.  

    Amnesty International members and their supporters will bring pressure to bear on the Ukrainian government through letter writing, petitions, public actions and lobbying.

    The campaign is calling for the Ukrainian authorities to take decisive action to demonstrate that arbitrary and abusive use of force and other human rights violations will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with by disciplinary and criminal measures as appropriate.

    January 10, 2014

    The resignation of the Central African Republic’s interim President, Michel Djotodia, risks exacerbating the risk to civilian lives, and indicates the urgent need for increased peacekeeping forces in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    The African Union’s failure to fulfil its promise to deploy a full contingent of peacekeeping forces to the country means the size of the peacekeeping force is insufficient to protect a highly vulnerable population.

    “More than a month after the UN vote there are still fewer than 4,000 African Union troops, in addition to the 1,200 French troops. In the meantime more than a thousand lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands are still trapped in camps for displaced people, too afraid to go home.”

    “Tensions are going to be particularly high in the Central African Republic in the wake of the interim President’s resignation, highlighting the desperate need for increased protection for the civilian population,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor. 

    December 11, 2013

    Amnesty International has issued a statement along with 16 other human rights organizations calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Syrian human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh and three other activists.

    Razan Zaitouneh, was abducted on 9 December 2013 along with her husband, Wa’el Hammada, and two colleagues, Nazem Hamdi and Samira Khalil in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations                  (613)744-7667#236jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

     

    The Joint Public Statement:  Abducted human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and her three colleagues must be released unharmed

    December 10, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for the mass riot charges to be dropped against all Bolotnaya defendants. The organization considers Moscow’s ongoing Bolotnaya Square trial as a purely political attempt to paint the protesters as intent on mass violence and discourage future protest.

    Amnesty International has recognized a further seven of those currently standing trial as prisoners of conscience, and considers all of those accused of “participation in mass riots” in connection with the Bolotnaya square protest on May 6 2012 to be victims of gross injustice.

    “What really happened on Bolotnaya Square was not the quelling of a riot, but the crushing of a protest. What has happened in the Bolotnaya trial has not been the exposing of orchestrated violence, but rather the exposing of a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to dictates of its political masters,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.  

     

    November 20, 2013

    World leaders must reject requests by the African Union to weaken the principle that no-one, regardless of their status, has immunity from prosecution for crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, said Amnesty International. 

    The session is expected to be dominated by the African Union’s calls to suspend the ICC’s trials of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in view of their official status as President and Deputy President of Kenya respectively. 

    Both men are accused of committing crimes against humanity during the post-election violence of 2007-8 that left over 1,000 dead and 600,000 displaced.

    Representatives of 122 countries which have joined the International Criminal Court will be asked to endorse changes to the Court’s rule that accused persons must attend trial and could discuss possible retrograde amendments to the Rome Statute at the 12 th Assembly of State Parties at The Hague on 20-28 November.

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