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    May 13, 2016

    Accountability for human rights violations and abuses should be an indispensable part of the regional response to Boko Haram, Amnesty International said today.

    As world leaders meet today for the Regional Security Summit in Abuja to discuss the collective effort to defeat Boko Haram and reconstruct the Lake Chad region, Amnesty International calls on them to ensure that justice remains a priority and to increase efforts to protect civilians.

    “Whether they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram, or of the security forces who were supposed to protect them, the conflict’s thousands of victims deserve justice,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    “Despite repeated promises, governments affected by the conflict have not adequately investigated evidence of crimes under international law and human rights abuses and violations nor taken steps to prosecute and bring to trial the suspected perpetrators. Now is the time to put those promises into action.”

    May 13, 2016

    President Joko Widodo should seize the opportunity to show that his government has the resolve to stand up for human rights by halting the imminent executions of up to 15 people, Amnesty International said today.

    The death row prisoners believed to at risk have been convicted of alleged drug offences and some did not receive a fair trial. Their cases are, like many others that Amnesty International monitored, emblematic of systemic flaws within the Indonesia justice system.

    “President Widodo has the chance to show true resolve by halting these executions and ordering a full independent review of all death penalty cases,” said Rafendi Djamin, Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “It is unacceptable for a government to execute people, especially when they did not receive a fair trial and have been convicted of offences that are not among the ‘most serious crimes’ in clear violation of international law and standards.”

    May 12, 2016

    The Bangladeshi authorities must intensify efforts to hold to account the killers of secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das and to end the impunity that exists for a wave of killings of human rights defenders and others, Amnesty International said on the anniversary of Ananata Bijoy Das’ death.

    On 12 May 2015, while on his way to work Bijoy Das was approached by masked men carrying machetes in Sylhet, Bangladesh. They struck him on the head and body and then reportedly fled into the crowds. Bijoy Das was taken to hospital where he was declared dead. The attack was claimed by a violent group purporting to act in the name of Islam, Ansar al-Islam (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team), which claims to have links to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.

    May 12, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the scheduled execution this Sunday of a teenager who was just 15 years old at the time of his arrest, said Amnesty International.

    Alireza Tajiki, now 19 years old, was sentenced to death in April 2013 after a criminal court in Fars Province, southern Iran, convicted him of murder and rape primarily on the basis of “confessions” extracted through torture which he repeatedly retracted in court. His execution is due to take place on Sunday 15 May in Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison in Fars Province.

    “Imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the crime flies in the face of international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18. It is particularly horrendous that the Iranian authorities are adamant to proceed with the execution when this case was marked by serious fair trial concerns and primarily relied on torture-tainted evidence,” said James Lynch, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 12, 2016

    Uganda must immediately arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, arrived in Kampala this morning to attend the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni.

    “Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC. Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict.”

    The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. Arrest warrants against President Al-Bashir have been outstanding since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2008.

    May 12, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly welcomes Canada's recent statement of unconditional support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

    On May 10, federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett told the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that Canada is "now a full supporter of the Declaration, without qualification."

    The Minister went on to describe implementation of the Declaration as "breathing new life into section 35" - the provision of the Canadian Constitution affirming Aboriginal and Treaty rights - "and recognizing it now as a full box of rights for Indigenous peoples in Canada." 

    May 10, 2016

    If President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is serious about introducing change in the Philippines, he must turn his back on the history of human rights violations and end the prevailing culture of impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    Rodrigo Duterte, the former Mayor of Davao city, is set to become the newly-elected President of the Philippines after leading the voting in the 9 May 2016 election. Duterte’s principal rivals have conceded defeat.

    “If Rodrigo Duterte is serious about bringing change to the Philippines, he should address the dire human rights situation in the country and put an end to extrajudicial executions, unlawful arrests, secret detention as well as torture and other ill-treatment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South East Asia.

    During the course of the presidential election campaign, Duterte has issued a series of inflammatory statements that, if enacted, would contravene the Philippines’ international human rights obligations, including his promise to reduce crime rates by shooting suspected criminals.

    May 09, 2016

    The death penalty will deliver neither the justice that victims deserve nor the security that Afghanistan seeks, Amnesty International said today.

    Six men were executed on 8 May 2016 after they were convicted for their  involvement in a series of high-profile violent attacks - including the 2011 killing of former President and head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and an attack on a Kabul supermarket in the same year.

    The executions mark the first time the government of President Ashraf Ghani has resorted to this cruel, unjust and irreversible punishment this year. Since a bombing last month in Kabul that killed more than 64 people, the Afghanistan government has vowed to implement the death penalty more frequently.

    The families who lost loved ones in violent attacks deserve justice for these appalling crimes,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director. “But the death penalty merely serves as vengeance, perpetuates the cycle of violence, and fails to address any root causes.”

    May 09, 2016

    Pakistani authorities are failing to protect human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    The murder of Khurram Zaki, a human rights defender and former journalist, who was gunned down at a restaurant in Karachi on 8 May 2016 marks the latest such killing of a noted Pakistani human rights defender in recent years.

    “As a human rights defender, Khurram Zaki, who was known to face threats from violent groups, deserved protection from those who meant him harm,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Pakistani authorities must immediately initiate a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into his murder and bring his killers to justice.”

    Zaki’s death comes as human rights defenders across Pakistan were marking the anniversaries of the killings of activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead in Karachi on 24 April 2015, and lawyer Rashid Rahman, who was killed at his office in Multan on 7 May 2014.

    May 06, 2016

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a prominent opposition politician facing a possible death sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges over comments he posted on Facebook, said Amnesty International.

    Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organisation.

    “The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism. Yonatan Tesfaye spoke up against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “He and many others held under similar circumstances should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    May 06, 2016

    Authorities in the south Indian state of Kerala must ensure an independent investigation into allegations of police inaction in a case involving the rape and brutal murder of a 30-year-old Dalit woman in Vattolippadi, Kerala. The failure of the police to investigate previous complaints about caste-based discrimination and harassment against the woman’s family must also be investigated.

    On the evening of 28 April, the woman, a law student, was found dead in her home by her mother, who works as a daily wage labourer. Media reports state that the autopsy found 38 wounds on the woman’s body and signs of rape, and her intestines had been partially removed. The police subsequently registered a First Information Report (FIR), but have not yet provided a copy of the FIR to the victim’s family, despite being required to do so under Indian law.

    Three men have been detained in relation to the killing. The Kerala government has announced that it will give 100,000 INR as compensation to the family.

    May 05, 2016

    The daily security threats that plague the lives of Iraqi civilians must not open the door to more human rights violations, Amnesty International warned today at the end of a six-day trip to Baghdad and Erbil headed by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    Both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to investigate a string of abuses by their respective militias and security forces.

    “The atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS) armed group do not give a free pass to Shi’a militias and Kurdish Peshmerga to go on the rampage in blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Salil Shetty.

    “The Iraqi authorities and their international backers should ensure human rights are not sacrificed in the fight against IS. Even during conflict there are rules that must be observed - the protection of civilians is paramount.”

    May 04, 2016

    The release of Iranian artist and activist Atena Farghadani yesterday is a long-overdue step towards righting the injustice against her and must be followed by the immediate and unconditional release of other peaceful artists and activists who remain behind bars, Amnesty International said today.

    “Atena Farghadani’s release represents a legal and moral victory for her and encourages the efforts of activists worldwide to campaign for the release of other prisoners of conscience in Iran, as well as for reforms to the unjust laws used to put them behind bars in the first place,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “While this is a time for celebration, it is vital that the world doesn’t forget that Atena Farghadani should never have been imprisoned in the first place and that many others like her continue to languish in cells or have the threat of prison hanging over their head for peacefully exercising their rights.”

    May 04, 2016

    Pakistani authorities must carry out an independent, thorough and transparent inquiry into the torture and death of political activist Aftab Ahmad while he was in the custody of the Rangers, a paramilitary force under the command of the Pakistan Army, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes after the Director-General of the Rangers, Maj. Gen. Bilal Akber, admitted that Aftab Ahmad was tortured in custody and ordered an internal investigation into the circumstances of his death.
    “It will not suffice for the Rangers to investigate themselves. A series of contradictory statements by the paramilitary force in the hours since the news of Aftab Ahmad’s death emerged point to attempts to mislead the public and resist accountability,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia.

    “The chilling revelation that Aftab Ahmad was tortured and died in the Rangers’ custody must result in an independent, efficient and transparent investigation.”

    May 03, 2016

    The UN Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on all those carrying out deliberate attacks on hospitals and other war crimes, said Amnesty International as it released harrowing testimony revealing how hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed by intensified Syrian government air strikes since 21 April.

    The organization interviewed doctors and activists in Aleppo including several who were in the al-Quds civilian hospital when it was attacked on 27 April by the Syrian government. The eyewitnesses described terrible scenes of destruction, said that the hospital was well-known and clearly marked and that the nearest military installation was over a kilometre away.

    Al-Dabeet hospital, in the Syrian government-controlled al-Mohafaza area, catering for women and children was also damaged in a rocket attack today. It is unclear where the attack came from but media reports suggest it was from an armed group. A hospital employee told Amnesty International that four women were killed and several more injured when a rocket fell outside the hospital, destroying its emergency room.

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