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    April 12, 2016

    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.

    April 06, 2016

    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.”

    March 31, 2016

    “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.”

    March 29, 2016

     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.”

    March 28, 2016

    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.

    March 25, 2016

    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.”

    March 25, 2016

    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.

    March 25, 2016

    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.

    Background

    March 24, 2016
    UPDATE 24 MARCH: Three men to be hanged on Friday In addition to Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu's scheduled execution on Friday, Amnesty International has since learned that his two co-defendants – brothers J Ramesh and Sasivarnam A/ L Jayakumar – are also set to be hanged tomorrow for murder. When Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother went this morning to Taiping Prison to visit her son for the last time and make arrangements for his funeral, family members of his co-defendants were also present for the same reason. All three prisoners were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, which gives no discretion to judges to decide on whether the circumstances of a case warrant hanging or imprisonment as punishment.   Following this development, Shamini Darshni, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:
    March 24, 2016

    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.

    March 22, 2016

    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.

    March 22, 2016

    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.

     

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

     

    March 21, 2016

    “Today’s unanimous guilty verdict by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Jean-Pierre Bemba is an historic moment in the battle for justice and accountability for victims of sexual violence in the Central African Republic and around the world,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    “Not only is it the first time that the ICC has convicted someone for rape as a war crime but it is also the first ICC conviction based on command responsibility.”

    “The judgment sends a clear message that impunity for sexual violence as a tool of war will not be tolerated. It also makes clear that military commanders and political superiors must take all necessary steps to prevent their subordinates from committing such heinous acts and will be held accountable if they fail to do so.”

     

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

    March 21, 2016

    The case of Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, found guilty of murder today by a court in southern Russia, must go immediately for a fair retrial, Amnesty International said.

    “It is abhorrent to send Nadiya Savchenko to prison after such a flawed, deeply politicized trial,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. 

    “The litany of dubious procedures and decisions by the presiding judge over the course of this trial shows a clear contempt for due process and suggests Nadiya never had a hope of proving her innocence.

    “The only way justice can be delivered both for Nadiya, and the journalists who were killed, is for there to be a full and impartial investigation into her allegations and a retrial that remains free of political interference and complies with international fair trial standards.”

     

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

    March 18, 2016

    European leaders’ collective ‘double-speak’ fails to hide the myriad of contradictions of the deal sealed between the EU and Turkey on how to handle the refugee crisis, said Amnesty International today.

    “The ‘double-speak’ this deal is cloaked in fails to hide the European Union’s dogged determination to turn its back on a global refugee crisis, and wilfully ignore its international obligations,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Promises to respect international and European law appear suspiciously like sugar-coating the cyanide pill that refugee protection in Europe has just been forced to swallow.”

    “Guarantees to scrupulously respect international law are incompatible with the touted return to Turkey of all irregular migrants arriving on the Greek islands as of Sunday. Turkey is not a safe country for refugees and migrants, and any return process predicated on its being so will be flawed, illegal and immoral, whatever phantom guarantees precede this pre-declared outcome.”

     

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