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    August 14, 2015

    Today’s move by the European Commission towards increasing support to Greece following a sharp increase in the arrival of refugees on Greece’s Aegean islands is a step towards supporting Greece and the many vulnerable people seeking refuge in Europe, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization however also warned of the urgent need for the Commission to call for the European Union (EU) member states to increase safe and legal routes so those in need of protection can reach Europe safely.

    “The crisis unfolding on the Greek islands shows how the authorities are incapable of meeting the needs and protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as the increase in arrivals by sea to the islands have pushed an already struggling reception system beyond breaking point,” said Iverna McGowan Acting Director for Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    August 10, 2015

    A promise today from Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev to “personally oversee” the investigation into the beating to death of journalist Rasim Aliyev [no relation to the President] is unlikely to result in real justice, Amnesty International said.

    “For too long, Azerbaijan’s journalists have been subjected to persecution and horrific attacks such as this one. Their killings frequently go without the culprits being prosecuted and brought to justice, despite the cynical assurances of impartial investigations,” said Natalia Nozadze, Azerbaijan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    In 2005 the president also promised to “personally oversee” the investigation into the killing of journalist Elmar Huseynov, but the case remains unsolved. 

    August 10, 2015

    Today’s conditional release of Mazen Darwish, a human rights activist who had been jailed on trumped-up terrorism-related charges, ends the worst of a painful ordeal for him and his family over the past three and a half years, said Amnesty International.

    Mazen Darwish, Director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), spent over three years in arbitrary detention after being arrested alongside a number of other colleagues during a raid on the office of the SCM by Air Force Intelligence personnel in Damascus in February 2012. Mazen Darwish is the last of the group to be released, two of his colleagues Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir were conditionally released last month.

    August 07, 2015

    Around 230 people are reported to have been abducted in central Syria by the armed group that calls itself Islamic State (IS) after heavy fighting in the town of Al-Qaryatain last night.

    “The abhorrent abduction in Syria of more than 200 people by Islamic State highlights the dreadful plight of civilians caught up in the conflict in the country,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.  

    “Every effort must be made to identify the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice. The group must respect the rules of war and immediately release these civilians unharmed.”

    A separate group of around 250 Syrian Christians were taken by IS in the Khabour river area in February. Nineteen have since been released whilst the fate of the rest remains unknown.

     

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

    August 07, 2015

    The Bangladeshi authorities must send a strong message that killings aimed at silencing dissenting voices are despicable and will not be tolerated, Amnesty International said in reaction to the news that blogger Niloy Neel was hacked to death at his home in the capital Dhaka today.

    Known for his secularist views, he is the fourth blogger to meet such a brutal fate at the hands of machete-wielding groups this year.

    “This spate of savage killings must end here. There is little doubt that these especially brutal killings are designed to sow fear and to have a chilling effect on free speech. This is unacceptable,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “The price for holding opinions and expressing them freely must not be death. The Bangladeshi authorities now have an urgent duty to make clear that no more attacks like this will be tolerated.

    “Thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigations must be carried out promptly to ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”

    August 06, 2015

    Amnesty International Ireland 

    Ireland must repeal the 8th amendment – Amnesty International global delegates call for change

    Today in Dublin, Amnesty International activists from around the world staged a protest against Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws outside the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Delegates brought 80 suitcases to signify the number of Irish women and girls who travel abroad each and every week to access a safe and legal abortion.

    Their reasons for seeking an abortion vary; some are survivors of rape, some are carrying a foetus with a severe or fatal impairment, some have serious health conditions, some make the decision for economic or other reasons. But all of them are left with no option other than to travel to another jurisdiction.

    Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman said: “Every year 4,000 Irish women and girls travel abroad for an abortion. Since 1971, at least 177,000 women and girls have had to leave Ireland to seek an abortion. The true figure may in fact be higher but this is a staggering number.

    August 05, 2015

    European governments must do more to provide safe and legal ways for people in need of protection to enter the European Union (EU), rather than risking their lives at sea in their thousands, Amnesty International said as a massive search-and-rescue operation got under way in the central Mediterranean earlier today.

    Media reports say hundreds of people are feared lost at sea after a fishing boat, which carried an estimated 600 people, capsized off the Libyan port of Zuwara. According to official sources, 373 people have been rescued and 25 bodies were retrieved so far. Rescue operations, carried out with the participation of vessels from various countries as well as NGOs Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ýand Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), are ongoing and will continue overnight.

    “People are still crossing the central Mediterranean in their thousands almost every week to seek safety and better lives in Europe, so fatal incidents at sea are going to remain a tragic reality,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    August 04, 2015

    Pakistan must immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty after the execution of a man who was below 18 years old at the time of the crime, according to his lawyers, and who was tortured into a “confession” by police, Amnesty International said.

    Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in 2004, was this morning hanged in Karachi Central Jail. He was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Pakistan despite no known links to any terrorist organisation. His execution had been stayed four times since Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions in December 2014.

    “This is another deeply sad day for Pakistan. A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life – and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    July 24, 2015

    The release of at least 200 prisoners is a welcome step forward for human rights in Gambia, but should go further to release other prisoners of conscience still detained in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    President Yahya Jammeh has this afternoon released at least 200 prisoners, following his promise made during a speech marking his 21 year anniversary in power on Wednesday. These include numerous prisoners jailed for treason, drug offences and corruption, a former director of the National Intelligence Agency, Lamin Bo Badjie, former Justice minister Momodou Lamin Jobarteh and former police chief Ensa Badjie. Many family members of people accused of being involved in December 2014’s attempted coup d’état were also released, after nearly six months in detention.

    July 20, 2015

    The bombing occurred at around 12 midday in Suruç, a town on Turkey’s border with Syria and close to the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani / Ayn Al-Arab in Syria.

    According to a statement from the Turkish authorities shortly after the blast, 27 people had been killed and close to 100 people were receiving treatment for injuries, some of them life threatening.

    Amnesty International condemns the bombing, which appears to have been carried out in a way that maximises the number of civilian casualties. Such attacks show contempt for the right to life and breach the most basic principles of international law. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

    The bombing appears to have targeted the Amara Cultural Centre in the centre of Suruç. At the time of the bombing, young people from Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) who had come to Suruç on the way to provide humanitarian aid in Kobani, were making a press statement. 

    July 16, 2015

    The decision by President Edgar Lungu to commute the sentences of 332 prisoners awaiting death by hanging to life imprisonment is a laudable first step and a ‘triumph’ for the right to life, said Amnesty International today.

    The organisation is now calling on President Edgar Lungu to abolish the death penalty completely, which violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment.

    “President Edgar Lungu has taken a very progressive step by deciding to spare these 332 people the death penalty, the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We commend him for this decision, but he must do more and totally abolish the death penalty in the country,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    Crimes such as murder, treason and robbery with a deadly weapon are punishable by death in Zambia. However, the country has not hanged anyone since 1997.

    July 09, 2015

    The Thai authorities must not return 50 ethnic Uighurs to China, where they are at risk of being tortured, forcibly disappeared and executed, and China must reveal the whereabouts of more than 100 already deported, said Amnesty International.

    This morning, the Thai authorities confirmed that they have deported to China some 109 Uighurs – the Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. They were part of a group detained for irregular entry into Thailand in March 2014.

    Since the 1980s, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations by the Chinese authorities.

    “Thailand has violated international law by forcibly returning some 109 Uighurs to China. This is akin to sentencing them to the worst punishment imaginable. Time and time again we have seen Uighurs returned to China disappearing into a black hole, with some detained, tortured and in some cases, sentenced to death and executed,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director for East Asia at Amnesty International.

    July 08, 2015

    Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution on the Srebrenica genocide is an affront to the families of the victims of the massacre and will hinder attempts at reconciliation between the communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Amnesty International.

    “The massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995 revealed the tragic flaws in the UN’s response to the Bosnian war. Twenty years on, the UN Security Council’s failure to recognise the killings as genocide is an insult to the memory of the dead,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This resolution was about much more than just recognizing Srebrenica as a genocide. It was also about the acknowledging the urgent need to provide justice to the victims and long-term support to survivors, including survivors of sexual violence, and clarifying the fate and whereabouts of the over 8,000 still missing from the war.”

    July 02, 2015

    A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.

    Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.

    "The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    July 01, 2015

    In a shocking revelation, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today notified Amnesty International that UK government agencies had spied on the organization by intercepting, accessing and storing its communications.

    In an email sent today, the Tribunal informed Amnesty International its 22 June ruling had mistakenly identified one of two NGOs which it found had been subjected to unlawful surveillance by the UK government. Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

    The NGOs were among 10 organizations that launched a legal challenge against suspected unlawful mass surveillance of their work by the UK’s spy agencies.

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