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Public statements

    July 21, 2017
      Responding to the Ugandan police’s announcement that they have arrested 56 people for allegedly holding illegal meetings under the deeply-flawed Public Order Management Act (POMA), Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:   “The Ugandan police are no strangers to making arrests in utter disregard for constitutionally-guaranteed rights, but this most recent case is patently absurd. These 56 individuals are guilty of nothing more than attending a peaceful meeting. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.   “The Public Order Management Act is deeply flawed and has previously been used by the police to crack down on the opposition and civil society. This latest mass arrest is no exception.”  
    July 20, 2017
    Just days after six human rights defenders were remanded in pre-trial custody in Turkey, the European Commission has joined governments and world leaders, including Angela Merkel, to demand their immediate and unconditional release.   Speaking today a European Commission spokesperson called for the “immediate release of these people”. This call follows similar demands by the governments of Germany, the US, France, Belgium, Ireland and Austria.   “The jailing of these six human rights activists – including the director of Amnesty International Turkey - has spurred world leaders to break their silence on the ongoing human rights crisis in Turkey. They are now coming together with remarkable speed and speaking with uncommon unity. Momentum is growing and now is the moment for other world leaders to speak out,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe Director for Amnesty International.  
    July 20, 2017

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately release a distinguished Bangladeshi human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience and allow him to speak at and participate in a conference on the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Malaysian authorities at Kuala Lumpur airport detained Adilur Rahman Khan, the Secretary of Odhikar, a leading Bangladeshi human rights organization, this morning as he arrived in the country to speak at a conference on the death penalty.

    “The Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Adilur Rahman Khan and allow him to participate in and speak at the conference,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “There is no justification for detaining him whatsoever. It is an outrage that a human rights activist cannot even travel freely to speak on a key human rights issue. Moreover, we understand that he still has not been given access to legal advice and is at risk of being deported.”

    July 19, 2017
      Following the Supreme Court’s decision to partially stay a Hawaii court’s ruling on the refugee ban, Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:    “This ruling jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence. On top of that, this prolonged legal battle is creating further distress and confusion for ordinary people who need to visit the U.S. to get medical attention, reunite with family or get an education. No part of this cruel and discriminatory ban is reasonable. Congress must intervene and end the ban once and for all.”
    July 19, 2017
      The Chilean Chamber of Deputies has an historic opportunity to put the country on the right side of human rights, Amnesty International said ahead of a debate today on the potential decriminalization of abortion under three circumstances.   Late last night, the Chilean Senate passed a bill to decriminalize abortion under three circumstances: when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk, and in cases of lethalfoetal impairment.   “Chile is finally taking a step away from the small number of countries that still expose women and girls to terrible suffering due to the cruel and draconian laws and policies that violate their human right to make free choices about their own bodies, health and lives,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.   “This historic vote, although limited, is a testament to the tireless work done by activists in every corner of Chile to ensure the country respects and protects women’s rights.”  
    July 18, 2017
      Amnesty International is alarmed by the amendments to the Law on the National Council of Judiciary and the Law on Common Courts adopted by the parliament: the lower chamber, Sejm on 12 July and the Senate on 15 July. The amendments are now awaiting the signature of the President of Poland. Another amendment, of the Law on the Supreme Court, put on the agenda of Sejm at night of 12 July raises further concerns over the government’s attempt to put the judiciary under political control.   This amendment is going for the first hearing on 18 July. The changes and why they are problematic are listed below.   These changes follow earlier, already problematic amendments to the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal that severely affected its independence to the extent that the European Commission issued a recommendation under the Rule of Law Framework in which it found that there was a “systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland”.  Another source of concern in relation to the independence of the justice system is the large-scale personnel changes in the prosecution service carried out in 2016.
    July 18, 2017
      Responding to a statement by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announcing an imminent security operation in the outskirts of the town of Arsal, in northeast Lebanon, Lynn Maalouf, Middle-East Director of Research for Amnesty International said:   “It is of utmost importance for the Lebanese army and other sides involved in the fighting in Arsal to prioritize the protection of Lebanese residents as well as Syrian refugees in the area. They must refrain from using lethal force except when it is unavoidable for self-defence or defence of others against threats of death and serious injury. Thousands of lives are on the line.   “Syrian refugees in Arsal are living in extremely harsh conditions in packed tented settlements. The Lebanese army must ensure that the operation is carried out in a manner that protects the right to life and other human rights. Use of explosive weapons in these circumstances would be contrary to Lebanon’s obligations under international law and likely to lead to arbitrary deaths.  
    July 14, 2017
    Joint Statement by 68 organisations   We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the arrest, detention and prosecution of six people, including three journalists, under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act in Myanmar. We demand that the charges against them are dropped and that the three journalists are immediately and unconditionally released, as they have been detained solely in connection with their peaceful journalistic activities.   The three journalists, Thein Zaw (also known as Lawi Weng) from the Irrawaddy magazine, Aye Nai and Pyae Phone Aung from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), as well as those with them at the time, Mai Tun Aye, Mai San Nyunt, and Mai Aung Kham, were detained by the military on 26 June, 2017 in northern Shan State. They were detained after attending a ceremony in an area controlled by the ethnic armed organization, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).  
    July 14, 2017
    Joint Statement by 68 organisations   We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the arrest, detention and prosecution of six people, including three journalists, under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act in Myanmar. We demand that the charges against them are dropped and that the three journalists are immediately and unconditionally released, as they have been detained solely in connection with their peaceful journalistic activities.   The three journalists, Thein Zaw (also known as Lawi Weng) from the Irrawaddy magazine, Aye Nai and Pyae Phone Aung from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), as well as those with them at the time, Mai Tun Aye, Mai San Nyunt, and Mai Aung Kham, were detained by the military on 26 June, 2017 in northern Shan State. They were detained after attending a ceremony in an area controlled by the ethnic armed organization, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).  
    July 14, 2017

    A federal judge in Hawaii has enjoined the Trump administration from including grandparents and other family members in the travel ban, as well as refugees with formal commitments from refugee organizations in the United States to resettle here. Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:

    “This decision is another rejection of the Trump administration’s cruel and discriminatory policy. It is welcome but temporary relief for the thousands of refugees and family members who remain uncertain of their future. They cannot wait for another drawn-out legal battle; Congress must step in now and end this cruel and discriminatory ban once and for all.”

    July 14, 2017
      Responding to a Hong Kong court decision today to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers for failing to sincerely take the oath of office, Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:   “Today’s decision confirms the Hong Kong government’s agenda to silence and effectively punish any speech critical of the present political system, wherever it may occur, even within the legislature. It is the latest damaging sign that expressing political opinions that challenge the status quo are no longer tolerated. By bringing these cases, the Hong Kong government only reinforces the impression that they are mere puppets of Beijing.”
    July 13, 2017
      On July 12, 2017, after resettling 50,000 refugees this year, the United States hit the cap in refugee admissions set by President Trump’s March 6 executive order. This is the lowest number of refugee admissions ever set by the executive branch. Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement.   “As a result of the Trump administration’s cruel agenda to ban refugees from entering the country, thousands of vulnerable people fleeing war and violence from all over the world are in heightened danger. Many of the 26,000 refugees who have already undergone vetting and been approved to come to the U.S. to live could be left stranded because of the administration’s narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the ban. The United States is turning its back on people who are fleeing some of the world’s most desperate situations.  
    July 13, 2017

    By Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “Do you think the Chinese government will release him now?” In the piercing cold of a December night in Oslo, the same question kept coming. I had just attended the ceremony to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned human rights advocate, literary critic, and thorn in the side of the Chinese government.

    Vehemently denounced by the Chinese government as “a farce”, the ceremony had movingly paid tribute to that simple truth: that words are not crimes. Freedom of expression, as Liu Xiaobo had himself told the court a year earlier, was “the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth.” The court sentenced him to 11 years behind bars.

    While I was buoyed by the homage the world was paying to his courage, I also knew that the real battle was only beginning: would the international community exert enough pressure on the Chinese authorities to sway them to release Liu Xiaobo?

    July 10, 2017

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that farm families in northeast British Columbia face the imminent threat of destruction of their homes to make way for a dam that may never be completed.

    Although flooding of the Peace River Valley is years away – and may never happen if the incoming provincial government cancels construction of the Site C dam or if significant, outstanding First Nations concerns are finally addressed – a number of farm families face threat of immediate destruction of their homes and lands to allow the relocation of portions of the main road through the valley.

    In our view, the circumstances surrounding the construction of the Site C dam are such that any eviction or destruction of homes at this point would breach international human rights standards that all governments in Canada are obligated to uphold.

    International law recognizes that there are instances when individuals may need to be displaced from their land for a larger public benefit. However, strict standards are required to protect the rights of those individuals and prevent abuse of power by government.

    July 07, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomed the official announcement today from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould that settlement has been reached with respect to Omar Khadr’s lawsuit. Mr. Khadr has received compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for the troubling role that Canadian officials played in the serious human rights violations he experienced while held by US forces at Guantánamo Bay between 2002 and 2012.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada noted,

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