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Joint Press Release

    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.”

    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.”

    February 23, 2016

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are calling on the federal government to acknowledge the serious concerns of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada and to make clear commitments to action as the country’s record is reviewed before a UN human rights body this week.

    The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) is reviewing Canada’s compliance with its obligations under this human rights treaty on February 24 and 25 in Geneva.

    February 05, 2016

    Canadian Citizen Detained in UAE for 527 Days

    For over 500 days Salim Alaradi’s family and human rights organizations have been stressing that Alaradi is a political prisoner, a victim of regional politics and his detainment is related to internal Libyan affairs. Today lawyers confirmed that the prosecution file confirms exactly this.

    On January 18, 2016 Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi as well as American nationals Kamal and Mohamed ElDarat, charged in the same case, learnt of their charges for the first time in court. Paul Champ, Alaradi’s Canadian lawyer, described the charges as “bizarre.” Alaradi denied all charges that alleged he funded, supported and co-operated with two Libyan organizations – Libyan Dawn (a Libyan military operation) and the February 17 Brigade (a legitimate military body) which formed during the 2011 revolution and no longer exists.

    The UAE has alleged that both are terrorist organizations but neither entity named in the charges is listed by the Libyan government, Canadian government, US government or the United Nation as terrorist entities.

    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.

    February 04, 2016

    (Dakar, February 4, 2016) – Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, should sign into law a bill that would increase women’s access to safe and legal abortion, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today in a letter they and five Sierra Leonean rights groups 50/50, AdvocAid, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, IPAS Sierra Leone, and Wi Di Uman Dem Coalition sent to President Koroma.

    In December 2015, the Sierra Leonean parliament overwhelmingly passed the Safe Abortion Act 2015, which would permit access to abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, after which it would be permitted until week 24 in cases of rape, incest, or health risk to the fetus or the woman or girl. Sierra Leone’s current law, which dates from 1861, criminalizes abortion, possibly except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

    February 02, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 3 February 2016

    World leaders in London this week for a high-level conference on Syria must commit to an ambitious and transformational new multi-billion dollar deal for Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them in the region, a global coalition of more than ninety humanitarian and human rights groups said today.

    The coalition, representing organisations such as the Malala Fund, Oxfam and Amnesty International, said that to be a success, the conference - co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN - must deliver a bold new plan for Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them.

    As the crisis enters its sixth year and ongoing suffering reaches historic proportions in scale and intensity, warring parties continue to commit war crimes, including besiegement and targeting of civilians. 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and on average, 50 Syrian families have been uprooted from their homes every hour of every day since the conflict began in 2011.

    January 25, 2016

    An Amnesty International UK PRESS RELEASE
     
    Rights groups urge contenders to address labour abuses and discrimination
     
    The candidates seeking the FIFA presidency should sign up to a set of pledges to prevent human rights abuses and corruption linked to the World Cup and other FIFA events, said a group of leading NGOs ahead of a debate in the European Parliament featuring three of the five contenders on Wednesday (27 January).
     
    Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, Terre des Hommes, and Transparency International Germany have asked the candidates to commit - if elected president - to taking six clear steps that will put FIFA on the road to ensuring its events do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses and corruption. The FIFA presidential election takes place on 26 February.
     
    Kerry Moscoguiri, campaigns director at Amnesty International UK, said:
     

    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.

    January 13, 2016

    (Kampala) – The Ugandan government should urgently suspend the crime preventer program ahead of the February 2016 national elections, said Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U), Chapter Four Uganda, and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) today. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18.

    “Crime preventers” are a volunteer force of civilians recruited and managed by police to report on and prevent crime in cooperation with the police and communities. In practice, crime preventers are strongly affiliated with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. Its members have acted in partisan ways and carried out brutal assaults and extortion with no accountability, the organizations said.

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