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Joint Press Release

    December 23, 2015

    (Bangui, December 23, 2015) – The Central African Republic transitional government, the United Nations, and donors should intensify their efforts to establish a Special Criminal Court, 23 Central African and international human rights groups said today.

    In June 2015, the Central African Republic’s transitional government promulgated a law passed in April to establish a Special Criminal Court inside the national judicial system, consisting of national and international staff, to investigate and prosecute the gravest crimes committed in the country since 2003, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “Our organizations welcome the steps taken by the transitional government to put an end to impunity for atrocities committed in the Central African Republic, notably through the establishment of a Special Criminal Court,” the groups said. “These efforts must continue and be supported by international actors to ensure that the court envisioned on paper becomes a reality as quickly as possible.”

    November 25, 2015

    UK should stop selling air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia-led forces

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition used a British-made missile to destroy a Yemeni ceramics factory, a civilian object, on 23 September, 2015, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today, based on field research and interviews with eyewitnesses at the scene.

    The attack on the factory in the Sana’a governorate, which appeared to be producing only civilian goods, killed one person, and was in apparent violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), the laws of war.

    This strike, using a British missile supplied in the 1990s, undermines the claim of Ministers that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of UK military equipment is consistent with IHL, and that the UK monitors such compliance “very carefully”. The organizations are unaware of any credible coalition investigation into this or other apparently unlawful airstrikes for possible IHL violations.

    November 09, 2015

    (Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – November 9, 2015) A Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is holding a press conference this morning to advise the public that British Columbia has failed to make significant progress on many of the recommendations from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI) and continues to ignore international recommendations from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  Given their experience with the MWCI, the Coalition is making preliminary recommendations to the newly elected Trudeau Government for the National Inquiry which Prime Minister Trudeau promised would start immediately.

    For decades, Indigenous women and supporting organizations called for an inquiry into the disappearances of the many marginalized women from BC.  Unfortunately, the MWCI led by Wally Oppal in 2012 was a deeply and systemically flawed and frustrating process that repeated the same discrimination and exclusion which we hoped it was going to uncover. 

    October 29, 2015

    Critical areas where the Canadian government needs to demonstrate commitment to upholding human rights in national security policies and activities were outlined today in a report on the anniversary of the October 2014 “Arar +10” conference.

    Convened at the University of Ottawa on October 29, 2014 by Amnesty International and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, along with the university’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre and Centre for International Policy Studies, “Arar +10” reviewed the state of national security and human rights in Canada a decade after a public inquiry was established to investigate the rendition to Syria and torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar.

    From a range of panels key recommendations emerged.

    October 27, 2015

    (Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C.- October 27, 2015) A Coalition on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls is extremely upset that the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner has found that Ministry of Transportation staff willfully deleted emails related to the Highway of Tears, a remote stretch of Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, where many Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or disappeared.

    The provincial government has failed to take meaningful action to provide adequate and safe transportation along the Highway despite numerous clear recommendations to do so from agencies including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry, and the Highway of Tears Symposium.  BC’s failure to act in response to these recommendations puts the safety of Indigenous women and girls at risk and is in neglect of its duty to take every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of all women and girls.

    October 07, 2015

    Botswana’s authorities must lift the suspension of four High Court judges unfairly targeted if the independence of the judiciary is to be preserved, said Amnesty International and SADC Lawyers’ Association today following a High Court decision yesterday not to reinstate them.

    The judges, Key Dingake, Mercy Thebe, Rainer Busanang and Modiri Letsididi were suspended on 28 August 2015 under Section 97 of the Botswana Constitution for alleged misconduct and bringing the judiciary into disrepute. This followed a petition signed by 12 judges, including the suspended four, calling for the impeachment of Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo.

    October 06, 2015

    Ahmed Mansoor was selected by a jury of 10 Global Human Rights organizations (See list below). The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on Oct. 6th.

    Ahmed Mansoor (United Arab Emirates)
    Since 2006, he has focused on initiatives concerning freedom of expression, civil and political rights. He successfully campaigned in 2006-2007 to support two people jailed for critical social comments, who were released and the charges dropped. Shortly after, the Prime Minister of UAE issued an order not to jail journalists in relation to their work. Mr Mansoor is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments. He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and domestic laws that violate international law.

    September 15, 2015

    The conviction and six-year prison sentence imposed on human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo is a travesty of justice and a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Angola, said five human rights organizations today.

    The organizations, the South African Litigation Centre (SALC), Lawyers for Human Rights, Front Line Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Amnesty International are calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.

    “The conviction of José Marcos Mavungo politically motivated and is the latest example of suppression of freedom of expression and blatant disregard for human rights in the country,” said Muluka Miti-Drummond, Regional Advocacy Director at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. 

    “It comes days after the European Parliament’s resolution on Angola calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, including José Marcos Mavungo, and to drop all charges against them.” 

    August 21, 2015

    Thirty-one aid, faith, human rights, and development organizations are calling on world leaders to take urgent action to halt ongoing demolitions and hold the government of Israel accountable for the wanton destruction of Palestinian property and of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank.

    During a surge in demolitions this week, the Israeli army demolished at least 63 homes and basic structures across 10 Palestinian communities in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel has maintained full military and civil control. Among the demolished structures were 12 basic humanitarian necessities, including a solar panel, a portable latrine, animal pens, and tents financed by the European Union. 

    August 12, 2015

    One week into Canada’s federal election campaign, party leaders have failed to put women’s rights and gender equality issues up for debate.

    The Up for Debate campaign, led by a broad coalition of 175 organizations, has collected over 50,000 signatures from people across Canada calling for a nationally broadcast leader’s debate on women’s rights and gender equality issues. But lack of a clear commitment from all political party leaders to participate in such a debate has put this plan on ice.

    “During last week’s Maclean’s debate, the word ‘woman’ was only mentioned four times, and there was no discussion of women’s rights or gender equality,” said Kelly Bowden of Oxfam, a spokesperson for the campaign. “Without commitment to a standalone debate, and in the absence of discussion in other debates, life and death issues impacting women and girls in Canada are invisible in the federal election campaign.”

    July 23, 2015

    Indigenous peoples and human rights groups say that a new United Nations report on Canada’s human rights record should be a wake-up call for all Canadians.

    The UN Human Rights Committee, which regularly reviews whether states are living up to their obligations under the binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  today made more than a dozen recommendations for fundamental changes in Canadian law and policy in respect to the treatment of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

    The Committee was so concerned about issues of violence against Indigenous women and the violation of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights that it called on Canada to report back within one year on progress made to implement its recommendations on these issues.

    June 29, 2015

    When Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act 2015, was tabled in Parliament this spring, Canada’s leading human rights organizations called for the Bill to be withdrawn. Amnesty International, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés and the National Council of Canadian Muslims have stated from the outset that the serious human rights shortcomings in Bill C-51 are so numerous and inseparably interrelated that the Bill should be withdrawn in its entirety. We believe that any national security law reform should instead, first, be convincingly demonstrated to be necessary and should then proceed only in a manner that is wholly consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the country’s international human rights obligations.

    June 15, 2015

      Over 200 Rights Groups Urge Respect for Free Expression, Assembly

    (Kinshasa) – Congolese authorities should immediately and unconditionally release two activists who were arrested three months ago, on March 15, 2015, during a pro-democracy youth workshop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 14 international and 220 Congolese rights organizations said today. Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala were arrested at a workshop organized to launch “Filimbi,” a platform to encourage Congolese youth to peacefully and responsibly perform their civic duties.

    The government should also release and drop any charges against other activists, opposition party members, and others detained solely for their political views or for participating in peaceful activities.

    June 09, 2015

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are calling on federal, provincial, and territorial governments to follow the lead of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in calling for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be used as a valuable framework for the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

    Thousands of people attended powerful events in Ottawa last week, as the TRC formally concluded its mandate. In an executive summary of its final report, due out later this year, the Commission emphasized that “Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practise reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces.”

    The Commission is adamant that the UN Declaration “provides the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.”

    June 08, 2015

    Joint release with First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and KAIROS

    In a landmark ruling Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada retaliated against Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada because of a discrimination complaint filed by that organization.

    According to Dr. Blackstock, “Although I welcome the Tribunal’s confirmation that the federal government’s conduct was unlawful, my real hope is that Parliament passes stronger measures to ensure that people who stand up for children and other vulnerable Canadians won’t be persecuted.” 

    The government’s actions were in response to a human rights complaint filed by the Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nation alleging that the federal government’s flawed and inequitable provision of First Nations child and family services to 163,000 First Nations children is discriminatory.

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