The horrific murder of a two-year-old girl with albinism highlights the failure by the Malawi’s authorities to adequately protect this vulnerable group, said Amnesty International following the discovery of her skull, teeth and the clothes she was wearing in Balantha Hill in Kasungu district.
The child, Whitney Chilumpha, had been missing since being abducted from her home whilst sleeping beside her mother in Chiziya village, Kasungu district, on 3 April. She is the twelfth person with albinism known to have been killed in Malawi since December 2014.
“The murder of this innocent child is part of a deeply disturbing pattern of disappearances and killings of people with albinism in Malawi where body parts are sold for use in witchcraft,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
The conviction of prominent lawyer and human rights activist Haris Ibrahim of sedition highlights Malaysia's increasing determination to crush any form of dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today.
“Today’s conviction of human rights activist Haris Ibrahim is the latest travesty in a series of politically motivated actions to silence dissent in Malaysia. The Malaysian government must halt its prosecution of human rights defenders who have called for peaceful protests and electoral reforms. If imprisoned, Amnesty International would consider Ibrahim a Prisoner of Conscience,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia.
Revelations of the slaughter and secret burial of 347 members of a Shi’ite religious group in mass graves by the Nigerian army must be urgently investigated said Amnesty International today, and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility for these crimes must be brought to trial.
The acknowledgment of the extrajudicial killings which took place between 12-14 December 2015 in Zaria, were made by a Kaduna government official at a Public Hearing of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and echoes Amnesty International’s own findings.
“The horrific revelation by the Kaduna State government that hundreds of Shi’ites were gunned down and dumped in mass graves is an important first step to bringing all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this atrocity to trial,” said Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, M.K. Ibrahim.
Brussels - Proposed reforms to the European asylum system presented by the European Commission today must serve as an opportunity to achieve a fairer distribution and better conditions for refugees within Europe, said Amnesty International.
“It would be utterly untenable if any proposed reforms were to largely maintain the status quo. Persevering with a system that has stranded 50,000 refugees in Greece in dire conditions is nothing short of madness,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. “This cannot be yet another missed opportunity to genuinely deal with the challenges refugees arriving in Europe face.”
“It is completely unfair to expect frontline European countries already struggling to deal with this crisis to bear the highest burden, while others fail to pull their weight in supporting both refugees and the countries hosting them.”
“The announced withdrawal of French Sangaris forces from CAR later this year further increases the urgency for the UN Security Council to ensure that the MINUSCA peacekeeping force is much better equipped to protect civilians and promote justice,” said Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International in West and Central Africa.
“Yesterday’s inauguration of CAR’s new President Faustin-Archange Touadéra offers an opportunity to rebuild and stabilize the country, including to bring those suspected of having committed serious human rights violations to justice. But to do so CAR needs the international community to boost its support, including by ensuring the peacekeeping force is well-equipped to prevent and contain large-scale violence.”
The guilty verdict and sentences of jail term handed down to 17 activists on 28 March 2016 by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal are an affront to justice that must be reversed, said Amnesty International as it called for their immediate and unconditional release as Prisoners of Conscience.
The activists were condemned to jail terms ranging from two years to eight years and six months.
The organisation also believes that the court’s decision for each of the 17 activists to cover legal costs of approximately 315 US Dollars is a mockery of justice.
“Today’s unjustifiable conviction and draconian sentences against these peaceful activists who should never have been detained at all demonstrate how Angolan authorities use the criminal justice system to silence dissenting views. This ruling flies in the face of justice,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“The activists have been wrongly convicted in a deeply politicized trial. They are the victims of a government determined to intimidate anyone who dares to question its repressive policies.”
The Azerbaijani authorities today released prominent human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev in what Amnesty International billed an overdue step towards righting the injustice against him and all remaining prisoners of conscience.
Intigam Aliyev, head of the NGO Legal Education Society and a vocal government critic, was arrested in August 2014. In April 2015 he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on trumped-up charges of tax avoidance, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power, amid a crackdown on dissident voices in Azerbaijan. Authorities also raided and closed his NGO that helped victims of politically motivated persecution and represented them at the European Court of Human Rights.
“Prisoner of conscience Intigam Aliyev has paid dearly for his frontline human rights work – the only ‘crime’ he committed was to defend his fellow citizens’ freedoms,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
The hideous murder of lawyer Yuri Grabovski, whose body was found in central Ukraine bearing gunshot wounds, is a chilling reminder of the dangers faced by lawyers and activists perceived to challenge the authorities, said Amnesty International
Yuri Grabovski, who faced repeated harassment and intimidation in connection with his work as a lawyer, was found dead in a desolate area in Cherkasy Region, in central Ukraine last night. He was last seen in his office in Kyiv on the evening of 6 March with an unknown man, retrieving documents relating to a high-profile case he had been working on. He has been missing ever since.
“The killing of a criminal defence lawyer is a hideous crime and the Ukrainian authorities must immediately take all steps necessary to begin to rectify this ultimate abuse of human rights and justice,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International.
“Yuri Grabovski’s abduction and murder should be promptly, effectively and impartially investigated, and those responsible brought to justice in fair trial proceedings.”
The release on bail of Mahmoud Hussein in the early hours of this morning offers a faint glimmer of hope for Egypt’s deeply flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.
The 20-year-old spent more than two years behind bars after being arrested at the age of 18 in 2014 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He was charged with belonging to a banned group and attending an unauthorised protest, amongst other things.
He was released at 1am this morning local Cairo time and reunited with his family after a court upheld his release yesterday on 24 March.
“Mahmoud Hussein’s release is way overdue - he has spent more than two years in prison when he should never have spent a single day behind bars. The Egyptian authorities must now drop the absurd charges against him and remove all conditions on his release so that he can be allowed to get on with his life,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
After Malaysia hanged three men for murder on Friday morning local time, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:
“The execution of these three men is a deeply sad development and an unspeakably brutal act that brings shame upon Malaysia. Neither the family nor the prisoners had a clue that their last two appeals had been rejected and the notification of the imminent executions barely allowed the families time for a final visit.
“The fact that these state killings come at a time when the Malaysian government is actively discussing abolition of the mandatory death penalty makes them all the more shocking and disturbing.”
“These hangings are a sickening reminder that the Malaysian authorities must redouble their efforts to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty.”
Despite international outcry, Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu and brothers Ramesh Jayakumar and Sasivarnam Jayakumar were executed at Taiping Prison in northern Malaysia at 5:30am on Friday.
An Israeli soldier has been filmed shooting dead a Palestinian man in Hebron as he lay wounded on the ground following his alleged role in a knife attack earlier today. The man, Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, was one of two Palestinians believed to have been involved in the stabbing of an Israeli soldier. Footage of the shooting was released by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
“The shooting of a wounded and incapacitated person, even if they have been involved in an attack, has absolutely no justification and must be prosecuted as a potential war crime,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
“Israeli forces have a long history of carrying out unlawful killings – including extrajudicial executions – in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with impunity. Amnesty International has documented a number of similar cases during the upsurge in violence that began in October.
Egypt’s authorities must expedite the release of a 20-year-old prisoner of conscience who has spent more than two years in pre-trial detention in a case of outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International after a court ordered his release on bail today.
Mahmoud Hussein was arrested on 25 January 2014 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He was accused of belonging to a banned group and attending an unauthorised protest, amongst other things.
“While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered. He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place. The Egyptian authorities must now drop all charges against him,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
Today’s attacks in Brussels show an utter contempt for human life, Amnesty International said as it condemned them in the strongest possible terms.
“To deliberately target civilian lives is, and always will be, inexcusable. Those responsible for these attacks must be brought to justice. All our thoughts are with the victims of the recent attacks and their families,” said Philippe Hensmans, Managing Director of Amnesty International Belgium-Francophone Section and Han Verleyen, Acting Director of Amnesty International Belgium-Flemish Section.
Amnesty International is calling on the Belgian authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation so that those responsible for these acts are brought to justice.
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