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    May 23, 2016

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA PRESS RELEASE

    Following the verdict in the second of several trials related to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Amnesty International USA called for widespread reform of laws governing the use of lethal force by police.

    “The courts are an important component of seeking accountability for the tragic death of Freddie Gray, but there is still a critical need to reform laws related to lethal force by police across the country,” said Jamira Burley, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA.

    “Lives are at stake. All states must bring lethal force laws in line with international standards that require that such force should be used only as a last resort.”

    AIUSA also expressed concern for the protection of peaceful protesters following the verdict.

    May 23, 2016

    Vietnamese authorities must end their crackdown on peaceful protesters and release all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said today.

    As Viet Nam hosts US President Barack Obama on a three-day visit, the authorities have pressed ahead with their assault on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly by arresting six peaceful activists and orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and harassment against dozens more.

    “Even as it faces the glare of global attention with the US President’s visit, the Vietnamese authorities, shamefully, are carrying out their repressive business as usual,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The six peaceful activists who have been arrested in recent days are: Nancy Nguyễn, Nguyễn Viết Dũng, Phạm Đoan Trang, Vũ Huy Hoàng, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, and Nguyễn Bá Vinh.

    May 23, 2016
      16 new civilian casualties, including nine children, documented in aftermath of Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s cluster bomb use   Internally displaced people returning home to de facto ‘minefields’   Use of US, UK and Brazilian-made cluster munitions documented   Urgent need for international demining assistance

    Children and their families returning home in northern Yemen after a year of conflict are at grave risk of serious injury and death from thousands of unexploded cluster bomb submunitions, Amnesty International said, following a 10-day research trip to Sa’da, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates.

     International assistance is urgently needed to clear contaminated areas and countries with influence should urge the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces to stop using cluster munitions, which are internationally banned and inherently indiscriminate.

    May 21, 2016

    The Bangladeshi authorities’ treatment of a prominent 81-year-old journalist, who has been held in solitary confinement for several weeks and denied medical care for chronic and life threatening health conditions, is an act of cruelty, Amnesty International said today.

    Shafik Rehman, editor of the monthly Mouchake Dhil magazine, was arrested on 16 April suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate Sajib Wazed Joy, the son of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

    “The Bangladeshi authorities must end the prolonged solitary confinement of Shafik Rahman and ensure his well-being. It is absolutely shocking that an 81-year-old diabetic man with a history of heart problems is being denied the medical care he needs,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    According to Shafik Rehman’s lawyer and family members, he has been kept in isolation since 27 April in Kashimpur Central Jail, a maximum security prison, where he is not allowed to interact with other prisoners. He has had minimal access to both his legal team and family members since he was first arrested.

    May 20, 2016

    A court's decision today to release a woman who spent four years in jail in El Salvador for miscarrying her pregnancy is a great victory for human rights, said Amnesty International.

    María Teresa Rivera, 33, was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” after having a miscarriage.

    "The release of María Teresa is yet another step towards justice in a country where women are treated as mere second class citizens," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “She should have never been forced to spend one second behind bars. Her release must be a catalyst for change in El Salvador, where dozens of women are put in prison because of an utterly ridiculous anti-abortion law which does nothing but put the lives of thousands of women and girls in danger.”

    María Teresa was arrested in a hospital after her mother-in-law found her in her bathroom almost unconscious and bleeding heavily. Staff at the hospital reported her to the police and accused her of having an abortion.

    May 20, 2016

    The Kazakhstani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release almost three dozen activists after dramatic wave of arrests, apparently aimed at blocking peaceful demonstrations from going ahead this weekend, Amnesty International said.

    At least 34 activists have been arrested across the country over the past three days, many of them for the “crime” of publicly stating their intention to participate in the peaceful protests, planned for 21 May, or for posting information about them on Facebook and other social media.

    “To prosecute people merely for intending to exercise their human right to peaceful assembly is beyond belief,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “It is scandalous that dozens of Kazakhstani citizens should be rounded up simply for sharing the details of a peaceful protest, or for saying that they wish to take part in it. The Kazakhstani authorities must release these people immediately and respect their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.”

    May 19, 2016

    The Singapore authorities should immediately halt the execution of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national convicted of murder, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization calls on the President of Singapore to grant clemency immediately. Kho Jabing was granted a temporary stay on 19 May 2016, mere hours before he was scheduled to be executed the following morning.

    “Any execution would mark a regressive step at a time when Singapore has made significant strides in terms of reducing the implementation of the death penalty,” said Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “By granting clemency, President Tony Tan would build on these gains and move Singapore closer to the global trend towards abolition of this cruel practice.”

    Kho Jabing’s next hearing will take place at 9am on 20 May 2016, when his lawyers will be presenting arguments for a constitutional challenge to elements of the mandatory death penalty.

    May 19, 2016

    The shocking 16-year prison sentence against prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who has several serious, chronic illnesses, represents an all-out attack on human rights defenders in Iran, and demonstrates how Iran’s abusive criminal justice system is used as a tool of repression, said Amnesty International.

    Narges Mohammadi, a distinguished human rights defender, a supporter of the anti-death penalty campaign Legam (Step by Step to Abolish the Death Penalty) and vice president of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran, was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran which convicted her of several trumped-up national security related offences in connection with her human rights work. The verdict was communicated to her lawyer on 17 May.

    May 18, 2016

     

    The Malaysian government’s plans to revoke or refuse to issue passports to critics is yet another demonstration of increasing intolerance in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Datuk Sakib Kusmi, the Immigration Department’s Director-General, is quoted as saying that critics of the government could be denied the right to travel for three years.

    “A travel ban on critics will mark a dangerous escalation in the government’s ongoing crackdown on dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. “The right to freedom of speech is a key human right which the Malaysian people deserve to enjoy just like any other people.”

    May 18, 2016

    The Algerian authorities must end their relentless efforts to silence peaceful protesters, said Amnesty International ahead of the start of the trial tomorrow of four protesters from the southern city of Ouargla who are facing up to a year in prison for taking part in protests against unemployment in Algeria’s oil capital, Hassi Messaoud.

    Prominent activist Tahar Belabes, a member of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC), and three other CNDDC members have been charged with taking part in “unarmed gatherings” in 2015. If convicted, all four men could face up to a year in jail.

    “Imprisoning Tahar Belabes and his colleagues simply for taking part in peaceful protests would be an outrageous attack on the right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their only ‘crime’ appears to be that they stood up for the rights of the unemployed. They should not even be on trial – let alone facing a possible prison term. The charges against them should be dropped immediately,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 17, 2016

    Released  00:01 GMT Wednesday 18 May 2016

    The Huthi armed group, supported by state security forces, has carried out a wave of arrests of its opponents, arbitrarily seizing critics at gunpoint and subjecting some to enforced disappearance as part of a chilling campaign to quash dissent in areas of Yemen under its control, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Where is my father? Detention and disappearance in Huthi-controlled Yemen, which is based on 60 cases of detention examined in detail by the organization, reveals a pattern of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances in Sana’a, Ibb, Ta’iz and Hodeidah between December 2014 and March 2016. Those targeted include political opposition figures, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and others. Many have been held incommunicado for prolonged periods, suffered torture and other ill-treatment and been denied access to a lawyer or their family.

    May 17, 2016

    Yesterday’s brutal crackdown by Kenyan police against protesters must be urgently and impartially investigated, said Amnesty International.

    Police descended on a crowd of largely peaceful protesters hitting many of them with batons, lobbing tear gas at them and spraying them with water cannons. In one video widely shared on social media, three policemen were seen kicking and beating a protester after he had collapsed by the roadside. Some media reports say the individual later died of his injuries.

    “The brutal beatings by police yesterday amount to arbitrary and abusive use of force, which is illegal under Kenyan, regional and international law,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    May 17, 2016

    Today’s multiple bombings in Baghdad, in which media agencies have reported the deaths of at least 63 people and injuries to at least 90 others, are the latest in a horrific spike in deadly attacks that have hit the country over the past week, Amnesty International said today.

    “The spike in deadly bomb attacks across Baghdad, in predominantly Shia areas, will outrage anyone who places value on human life,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The bloody toll from these attacks, which is predominantly civilian, has been growing steadily over the past seven days.”

    “Today’s sickening attacks, carried out in daytime, in areas well known to be frequented by civilians such as busy markets, display a total disregard for the lives of civilians and the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.”

    May 17, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes Bill C-16, tabled today by the government of Canada to enshrine the equality rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and protect them from hate crimes.  The important move will uphold the human rights of individuals who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence, in Canada and worldwide.

    Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, bringing federal law into line with human rights legislation in eight provinces and territories.  It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

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