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Joint Press Release

    March 17, 2017

    Johannesburg --The Angolan government must allow protesters to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said ahead of a planned demonstration in Luanda for a women’s right to have an abortion.

    The protest, scheduled for March 18, 2017, is in response to the new draft penal code currently before parliament, which punishes without exceptions those who have or perform an abortion with up to 10 years in prison.

    “We have often seen Angolan police use unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful demonstrators,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    Parliament approved an amendment on abortion on February 24 as part of the process of replacing Angola’s penal code from the 1886 colonial-era version. The government had proposed a bill that would criminalize abortion, except in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is in danger. But parliament rejected that proposal and made abortion, without exceptions, illegal. The final vote on the draft penal code is slated for March 23.

    November 16, 2016

    (Ottawa/Toronto/Vancouver/Reno/Washington/Guatemala) North American organizations are dismayed and deeply troubled bythe execution-style murder of 22 year-old Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima, assistant to the director of the Guatemalan Centre for Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), on Saturday in Guatemala City.
     
    A group of Canadian and US legal, environmental and social justice organizations, and solidarity networks publicly express their condolences for the victim’s mother and two young sisters. In addition, they are profoundly worried about the safety and continued work of CALAS and the mining-affected communities that this organization collaborates with. There is no denying the significance of this brutal murder amidst escalating violence against land and environment defenders, journalists and citizens involved in important environmental and social justice struggles in the country and the region.
     

    September 13, 2016

    Treaty 8 First Nations and their supporters say an ongoing court battle over the massive Site C hydro-electric dam in Northern British Columbia wouldn’t be necessary if the Prime Minister simply kept his promises.

    Yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations appeared before the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal in an effort to overturn federal approval of the project.

    “Anyone who reads the environmental assessment report can see that the Site C dam is an indisputable threat to our rights,” said Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly. “Our Nations are deeply grateful to all the organizations and individuals whose support has enabled us to continue this battle, but the fact remains that we wouldn’t have to go to these lengths if the Trudeau government would act on the promises it has made to uphold our Treaty, the Canadian Constitution, and the UN Declaration.”

    August 14, 2016

    Bangladeshi authorities should immediately end the illegal detentions of Mir Qasem Ali and Humman Qader Chowdhury, arrested respectively on 9 August and 4 August, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    Both men were arrested without warrants or charges, have not been produced before a magistrate, and have not been allowed access to family or lawyers.

    “There is no question that Qasem Ali and Chowdhury are subject to an enforced disappearance in the custody of the security forces. Yet the government continues to deny having them. Both men have been refused access to lawyers and their families, and production before a magistrate,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “This is a practice which has unfortunately become completely routine in Bangladesh, and has to end.”

    February 12, 2015

    The Free Syrian Voices (www.free-syrian-voices.org) coalition today announced its “Hearts in Our Hands” Campaign to call for the release of peaceful Syrian activists held both by the Syrian government and armed groups. The coalition was formed to coordinate the efforts of six international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Frontline Defenders detained Syrian human rights defenders and activists.

    The campaign’s timing, over the Valentine’s Day weekend and through 17 February 2015, marks the 3rd anniversary, on 16 February, of the arrest and detention of Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), and two staff members, Hussein Gharir and Hani al-Zitani. They remain in Syrian government jails solely for their human rights work, along with hundreds of other human rights, media, legal and humanitarian workers detained since the peaceful protest movement in Syria started in 2011.

    February 04, 2016

    An international coalition of over 30 non-governmental organisations today welcomed the ambition demonstrated at the ‘Supporting Syria And the Region’ donor conference in London to increase the scale and scope of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, but said that overall pledges for 2016 fell more than $3 billion short of what was urgently needed. The NGOs, including Oxfam, Sawa Aid and Development, and Islamic Relief, applauded the generosity of some donors while encouraging others also to pledge their fair share. They also warned that many Syrians would continue to suffer unless more was done to ensure their protection inside and outside the country, and an end to the violence in Syria.

    March 08, 2016

    Toronto, ON  – Human rights organizations across the country reacted today to news that an individual has died while in the custody of the Canadian Border Services Agency. The individual died in the Toronto East Detention Centre. The individual’s identity has not been released.

    “Nobody should die while they are in the custody of CBSA” said Mitch Goldberg, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. “The public needs answers. What was the cause of death? Could this death have been prevented? Did some action or inaction on the part of CBSA and the correctional facility that they use to house their detainees contribute to their deaths?”

    “It is a shameful fact that since 2000, at least 13 people have died in the custody of CBSA and its predecessor agency,” said Samer Muscati, director the University of Toronto Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP). “This latest death is a further stain on CBSA’s reputation and highlights the urgent need for reform of the way immigration detention is practiced in this country.”

    January 14, 2016

    Canadian Citizen Detained in UAE for 503 Days

    After nearly 17 months of detention in the United Arab Emirates without charge or access to a lawyer, the family of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi has learned he will be prosecuted by UAE authorities. The man from Windsor, Ontario will learn the charges against him at the start of trial on January 18, 2016 before the State Security Chamber of the UAE Federal Supreme Court.

    Alaradi, a successful businessman and father of five young children, was seized by UAE State Security officials in Abu Dhabi on August 28, 2014. Alaradi was held in a secret prison for three months before UAE authorities acknowledged his detention and transferred him to local Al Whatba prison. Canadian consular officials made repeated requests to visit Alaradi, but were only allowed to see him three times during his first year in detention. Local lawyers hired by Alaradi’s family were repeatedly denied access to him until being allowed a first visit this week, only a few days before the trial begins.

    July 20, 2016

    July 20, 2016—As organizations and human rights experts, we are deeply concerned by the draft Terms of Reference for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, which have been posted on media websites today.

    The TOR provide the framework for the National Inquiry and establish the authority of its Commissioners. In our view, the draft TOR risks a weak National Inquiry that lacks clear authority to delve into some of the most crucial factors in this human rights crisis. Our organizations are particularly concerned that the draft TOR provides no explicit mandate to report on, or make recommendations regarding, policing and justice system failures and inadequacies.

    April 27, 2016

     

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
    Prime Minister of Canada

     

    Re: Open Letter to the Prime Minister on Saudi arms deal authorization

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

    We, the undersigned, wish to express our profound concerns about the issuance of export permits for Canada’s multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, despite the flagrant incompatibilities of this contract with the human rights safeguards of our export controls.

    To provide such a large supply of lethal weapons to a regime with such an appalling record of human rights abuses is immoral and unethical. The spirit and letter of both domestic export controls and international law support this view. The government has had every opportunity to uphold this position, but has chosen not to. We therefore ask the government to rescind the export permits, ensuring that this deal does not go ahead unless and until relevant human rights concerns have been resolved.

    April 21, 2016

    New Government Should Quickly Establish Special Court

    21 Central African and international human rights organizations issued a statement today calling on the new president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, to make justice for grave international crimes a top priority for his government. President Touadéra was sworn in on March 30, 2016, and his new government took office on April 11.

    “The people of the Central African Republic have suffered unspeakable abuses and have made clear that they want to turn the page on a past where impunity ruled,” the human rights groups said. “President Touadéra should demonstrate leadership and take concrete steps to advance justice for grave international crimes, notably through the swift establishment of the Special Criminal Court and continued cooperation with the International Criminal Court.”

    April 18, 2016

                                 Reverse Worrying Spike in Repression

    The suspicious death in custody of opposition political leader Solo Sandeng and the arrest of his party leader, Ousainu Darboe, and other party members in recent days underscore the repressive nature of the Gambia’s government, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and ARTICLE 19 said today.

    The groups said the government of President Yahya Jammeh should ensure an independent and impartial investigation into Sandeng’s death, immediately release all peaceful protesters and free Alhagie Ceesay, a journalist arbitrarily detained since July 2015 and currently gravely ill in hospital. 

    April 11, 2016

    The next United Nations (UN) Secretary General must overhaul the global approach to aiding refugees and must do everything possible to end atrocities and protect civilians in armed conflicts, said Amnesty International as the process of selecting the leader of the world body is opened to the public for the first time.

    Amnesty International and six other human rights organizations have listed eight priorities the next Secretary General must pursue to restore the UN’s credibility on human rights damaged by peacekeeper abuse and failure to protect human rights in major crises like Syria, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan.

    In an effort to open up the selection process, candidates to succeed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will outline their vision and field questions at the UN General Assembly from 12-14 April.

    “The world needs a strong UN Secretary General who will stand up to states that commit human rights violations. The UN simply cannot fulfil its mandate without putting human rights at the heart of everything it does,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    March 23, 2016

    Human rights activists risk prosecution, asset freezes

    In recent weeks, the Egyptian authorities have summoned human rights workers for questioning, banned them from travel and attempted to freeze their personal funds and family assets. These steps indicate that a five-year-old investigation into the funding and registration of independent human rights groups could soon result in criminal charges, 14 international organizations said today.

    The authorities should halt their persecution of these groups and drop the investigation, which could threaten human rights defenders with up to 25 years in prison, the organizations said.

    “Egypt’s civil society is being treated like an enemy of the state, rather than a partner for reform and progress,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 09, 2016

    Gambia should free an ailing journalist who has been arbitrarily detained since July 2015 and drop all charges against him, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

    Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the managing director of the independent radio station Teranga FM, has been charged with sedition and “publication of false news.”  He has been hospitalized twice since the beginning of 2016. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Gambia last week to release Ceesay and drop all charges against him.

    “The use of archaic sedition laws to harass and lock up critics is a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International deputy regional director for West and Central Africa. 

    “Alagie Ceesay’s case is a further example of Gambia’s blatant disregard for freedom of the press, and he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

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