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    March 16, 2016

    The Pakistani authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate this morning’s bomb attack on a bus which killed at least 15 people and severely injured 25 in Peshawar, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible in fair trials, said Amnesty International.

    “There can be no justification for intentionally targeting civilians or carrying out indiscriminate attacks. Those responsible for the bombing have shown contempt for the right to life and fundamental principles of humanity,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    Media reports indicate that explosive material was packed into a toolbox and detonated remotely inside the privately hired bus, which was carrying government employees from Mardan to the provincial capital. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

    March 16, 2016

    Improvements to last week’s EU-Turkey migration deal do little to hide Europe’s shameful planned mass return of refugees to Turkey, said Amnesty International today after the European Commission published a Communication on how it believes the plan should be taken forward.

    “While the emphasis on access to individual asylum assessments for refugees is an improvement on last week’s woeful EU-Turkey migration deal, this must be genuinely meaningful rather than a cosmetic change,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. “It will not be if Turkey is declared by the same stroke of the pen a safe country of return, because it simply isn’t safe for anyone – including Syrian refugees."

    “In reality, the essence of the deal has not changed. These fig-leaf procedures won't hide Europe's guilty conscience if large scale returns of refugees start happening now."

    March 15, 2016

    “The Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling today upholds the rule of law and reinforces the country’s progressive laws aimed at ending impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a stinging rebuke to the government for its failure to abide by its domestic and international obligations to arrest President Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa. 

    “The South African government’s decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during his visit to Johannesburg for the African Union Summit last year was a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict. The ruling that this decision was inconsistent with South African law is a small step towards justice for these victims and their families.”

    March 14, 2016

    Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was arrested and taken into custody today along with her baby son Hadi, Amnesty International said.

    “Zainab Al-Khawaja and her family have been relentlessly targeted by Bahraini authorities for speaking out against human rights violations,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Her convictions are for nothing more than tearing up photos and seeking to visit her father in prison. If this arrest means the start of her prison sentence, she will be a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.”

    15 police jeeps arrived at Zainab Al-Khawaja’s home this afternoon to arrest her, closing down the entire street, according to her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja.

    March 04, 2016

    Today’s government takeover of Zaman newspaper is the latest deeply troubling episode of the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media, Amnesty International said today.

    “By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert.

    “A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.”

    Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns. 

    March 03, 2016

    The sickening discovery of the severed head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism in Malawi shows the grave risk to life faced by this vulnerable minority group and the urgent need for the authorities to provide them with adequate protection, said Amnesty International today.

    Police confirmed to Amnesty International today that they found the head of the boy who was abducted from his home at Moto village in Malawi's eastern district of Machinga on Friday 26 February.

    “The discovery of the head of a nine year-old boy with albinism who was abducted in front of his mother, shows the grave danger faced by people with albinism in Malawi. The Police must urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for this heinous crime,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    March 03, 2016

    The brutal killing of a vocal indigenous leader in Honduras paints a terrifying picture of the dangers faced by human rights defenders and social activists in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Berta Cáceres, leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), was shot dead in her home early this morning in the town of La Esperanza, in the province of Intibucá, west Honduras.

    “The cowardly killing of Berta is a tragedy that was waiting to happen. For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Unless the authorities in Honduras take decisive action to find those responsible for this heinous crime and take measures to protect other activists like Berta, they will have blood on their hands. The government must bring those responsible for this crime to justice, and guarantee protection for her family and all members of COPINH.”

    February 24, 2016

    The sentencing of Bahraini political activist Ebrahim Sharif to one year in prison simply for making a speech calling for reform is yet another example of Bahrain’s intensified crackdown on peaceful critics, said Amnesty International.

    “The sentencing of Ebrahim Sharif to yet another year in prison simply for calling for reform in a speech is an outrageous attack on freedom of expression and the latest example of the Bahraini authorities’ insidious clampdown on government critics. No one should be imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views. Ebrahim Sharif’s conviction is a blatant attempt to punish him for speaking out, serving as a warning to all dissidents, and must be quashed immediately,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    February 17, 2016

    Moves by the authorities to shut down the renowned El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence appear to mark an expansion of the ongoing crackdown on human rights activists in Egypt, said Amnesty International today.

    Earlier today, members of the security forces entered the Center and presented an order to shut down operations. No explanation was provided as to why the order was issued.

    “The El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence provides a lifeline to hundreds of victims of torture and the families of people who have been subjected to enforced disappearance. This looks to us like a barefaced attempt to shut down an organization which has been a bastion for human rights and a thorn in the side of the authorities for more than 20 years,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The authorities must freeze the order to close the Center and provide it with a clear explanation of the reasons behind the order. The El Nadeem Center must be given an opportunity to challenge the order before a court.”

    February 15, 2016

    Attacks on at least two medical facilities in Syria today are just the latest of scores of apparently deliberate attacks on hospitals, clinics and medical personnel being committed in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    “Russian and Syrian forces know full well that deliberate attacks on medical facilities are war crimes. All parties to the conflict must cease such horrific attacks, stop destroying medical facilities and allow medical workers to carry out their life-saving work without fear of being killed or injured in the line of duty,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    February 11, 2016
    NATO forces about to begin working in the Aegean Sea must operate in line with international law by carrying out search and rescue operations for people in distress, and not illegally return refugees back to Turkey, says Amnesty International.   “Hundreds of refugees, including many children, have already died this year attempting the treacherous journey across the Aegean. Any NATO ships that witness a boat in distress must provide immediate life-saving assistance,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.   “In no way must NATO forces become yet one more barrier between refugees and the international protection they are legally entitled to. Intercepting refugees attempting to reach Europe and pushing them back to Turkey - where 2.5 million are already hosted - would be a serious violation of their right to claim asylum, and would fly in the face of international law.”  
    February 11, 2016

    Five years after a wave of protests demanding widespread reform rocked Bahrain, hopes for progress on human rights and accountability for past and present abuses have faded, said Amnesty International.

    The mass protests which began on 14 February 2011 were met with violence by the security forces, who shot dead and injured protesters. Others died in custody after being tortured.

    “Five years since the uprising, torture, arbitrary detention and a widespread crackdown against peaceful activists and government critics have continued. Today in Bahrain, anyone who dares to criticize the authorities – whether a human rights defender or political activist – risks punishment,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    January 27, 2016

    Today’s appeal court ruling upholding a two-year prison sentence for five activists, who were convicted of allegedly taking part in a protest last year, is yet another example of the unfair and arbitrary nature of Egypt’s criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.

    Surgeon and poet Ahmed Said was among the five activists who were arrested and jailed in November 2015 for allegedly taking part in a protest. However, according to defence lawyers working on the case, there is no evidence proving that the protest, as stated in the National Security Agency’s investigations report, actually took place.

    The report is based on the investigations of a single National Security Agency officer, but at least two of the activists say they were tortured and ill-treated during interrogation. Some of the offences for which they were convicted, such as assembling without a permit, are in themselves contrary to international standards as they criminalize the exercise of protected human rights, while others, such as disrupting traffic, were unfounded.

    January 14, 2016

    A series of bomb blasts and shootings that rocked Jakarta this morning have killed at least seven people, five of whom were suspected attackers. The armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) has reportedly claimed responsibility.

    In response to the attacks Josef Benedict, Amnesty International Southeast Asia and Pacific Deputy Campaigns Director, said:

    “Today’s attack shows an utter disregard for the right to life. This is sadly not the first time Indonesians have seen their loved ones killed in horrific attacks by extremist groups who use bloodshed to further their despicable aims.

    "The Indonesian authorities must conduct a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the attack and ensure that all those involved in planning and carrying out this attack are brought to justice in fair trials without the recourse to the death penalty.

    January 12, 2016

    The arrest of Samar Badawi, a prominent human rights defender, is the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent, said Amnesty International.

    Read Samar Badawi's blog:  "My Husband is in Prison for Supporting Human Rights in Saudi Arabia"

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