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Public statements

    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,

    July 07, 2017
      Following a federal judge’s decision denial of a motion regarding the Trump administration's planned implementation of the Muslim and refugee ban, Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:   “The Trump administration's plans to implement the refugee and Muslim ban are cruel to families and puts thousands of lives at risk. With this ban the U.S. is turning its back on the world’s most vulnerable people including families and others fleeing war, violence and torture. It also allows a policy built on bigotry and discrimination to stand. No part of this ban is reasonable and it must be stopped. Congress must step in now and end this cruel and discriminatory ban once and for all.”
    June 28, 2017

     

    For a third year running, authorities in Istanbul banned, on spurious grounds, the Istanbul Pride March, historically the biggest event held by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) people and supporters in Turkey. Yesterday police used excessive and unnecessary force against people attempting to march peacefully despite the ban.

    The event, which had been successfully held annually for over a decade and which attracted tens of thousands of participants, was once held up by the authorities as an example of their respect for rights. The repeated blocking of the Pride March in recent years is yet another example of the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and difference, the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey in general, and the authorities’ failure to uphold LGBTI rights.

    June 26, 2017

    Following the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear arguments on President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban and allow the order to take effect in the meantime, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director, released the following statement:

    “This bigoted ban cannot be allowed to take effect again, and Congress needs to step in immediately to nullify it once and for all. It’s always been crystal clear that this policy was based on discrimination. Reinstating any part of this ban could create chaos in the nation’s airports and tear families apart.

    "Rather than keeping anyone safe, this ban demonizes millions of innocent people and creates anxiety and instability for people who want to visit a relative, work, study, return to the country they call home, or just travel without fear.”

    January 24, 2017

    This week's Federal Court of Appeal decision leaves unanswered the critical question of whether the construction of the Site C hydro-electric dam in northeast British Columbia violates the Constitutionally-protected Treaty rights of the First Nations who live in and depend on the Peace River Valley.

    The court accepted the federal government’s argument that, because the Canadian Environmental Act doesn’t explicitly require consideration of Treaty rights, it was “reasonable” to approve the project without first determining whether it would cause unjustifiable harm to the exercise of these rights.

    If the decision stands, it has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for rights protection in Canada as it effectively allows the terms of an individual piece of legislation to trump wider Constitutional rights protections.

    January 10, 2017

    10 January 2017 AI Index: AMR 51/5441/2017

    On 1 January 2017, the USA took a three-year seat on the UN Human Rights Council, after being voted onto this key UN human rights body by the General Assembly late last year. In its election “manifesto” in support of its candidacy, the USA promised to champion the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to abide by its human rights treaty obligations, and to engage meaningfully with UN treaty monitoring bodies.

    Ten days later – 11 January 2017 – sees the 15th anniversary of detentions at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, detentions that are entirely antithetical to the Universal Declaration, and indeed the USA’s human rights obligations, and the recommendations of UN treaty monitoring bodies of those obligations. However, when it comes to its human rights obligations, the USA all too often takes a pick and choose approach, and at Guantánamo it chose to ignore them from the outset.

    January 10, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    In anticipation of the Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees this week, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:

    “If they are confirmed, these nominees will make decisions that affect the human rights of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. Some of these nominees have expressed views on torture, discrimination, and oppressive governments that are troubling. They should be questioned vigorously, and they must commit to protecting human rights.

    “President-elect Trump’s campaign was marked with dangerous rhetoric, and these nominees could be tasked with making that rhetoric a reality. We cannot let that happen.”

    AIUSA has raised questions about several of the nominees, including:

    January 03, 2017

    Update January 3, 2017

    Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee an Iranian writer and human rights activist who was imprisoned for writing a short story about stoning was released on bail today. Her husband Arash Sadeghi who is also a human rights defender imprisoned in connection with his peaceful activism had been on hunger strike since 24 October in protest at her imprisonment  and has also ended his hunger strike today . More information on their case is available here:  https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5414/2017/en/ 

    November 21, 2016

    New information released last week concerning police investigations into allegations of sexual violence and other abuses of Indigenous women and men in northern Quebec highlights the urgent need to ensure better police accountability, particularly for individuals and communities who have experienced a history of severe human rights violations in Canada.

    “Indigenous women and girls are rightly questioning whether they can trust police and government to take allegations of sexual assault and other abuses seriously,” said Beatrice Vaugrante, Directrice générale of the Francophone Branch of Amnesty International Canada. “We know that a swift and thorough investigation is the most likely way to meet the burden of proof in the prosecution of sexual assaults. Unfortunately, mistrust of authorities, fear of repercussions and gender discrimination means that assaults either generally go unreported, especially if the alleged perpetrators are police, or go reported but with obstacles to accessing justice. These concerns are magnified for Indigenous women and girls who have experienced so much racism and discrimination in Canadian society.”

    September 12, 2016

    The authorities must take immediate and effective action to once and for all put an end to the spate of recent killings of human rights defenders and social and community activists, said Amnesty international today as yet another activist was killed yesterday.

    On 11 September, Néstor Iván Martínez, a member of the Afro-descendant Community Council (Consejo Comunitario) of La Sierra, El Cruce and La Estación, and a leader of the People’s Congress (Congreso de los Pueblos) social movement, was shot dead by unknown assailants in a rural part of Chiriguaná Municipality in the department of Cesar. Néstor Iván Martínez had been active in environmental and land rights campaigns in Cesar, and had also campaigned against mining activities in the region.

    On 29 August, three leaders of the NGO Integration Committee of the Colombian Massif (Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano, CIMA), Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán and Ariel Sotelo, were stopped in the vehicle they were travelling in and shot dead by a group of armed men in Almaguer municipality in the department of Cauca.

    July 29, 2016

    A permit issued this week by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans violates the rights of Indigenous peoples by allowing continued construction of a destructive and unjustified hydro-electric megaproject that does not have their free, prior and informed consent.

    “The federal government had the opportunity to do the right thing and at least insist that First Nations legal challenges be given a fair hearing before construction of the Site C dam continues,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Instead, in taking this step the government has broken its promise to respect Canada’s Treaties with Indigenous peoples and uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

    July 14, 2016

    July 1976 proved to be pivotal in justice systems on both sides of the Canada/US border. On the 14th of July, Canada took a significant step forward for human rights and justice by removing the death penalty from its Criminal Code.  Yet only twelve days earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was constitutional (after a period of moratorium). Since that time, the United States has executed 1,436 people. After abolition, Canada’s per capita rate for homicide has steadily declined, it is now at the lowest murder rate since 1966. In contrast, the United States has not had a steady drop in the homicide rate until quite recently and it remains well above that of Canada. Notably, the homicide rate remains higher in states that execute than those that do not. When Canada abolished the death penalty in law it joined a small number of countries, but today they represent more than half of the world’s countries. More than two thirds of the world’s countries no longer execute.

    June 21, 2016

    The government of Ontario has demonstrated shocking indifference to the lives and well-being of the people of the Grassy Narrows First Nation who are suffering the devastating consequences of mercury dumped into their river system a half century ago. A story published this week in the Toronto Star revealed that the ongoing threat to Grassy Narrows may be even worse than previously known, and the province’s failure even greater.

    In the 1960s, the Ontario government allowed a Dryden pulp mill to release approximately 9 metric tonnes of mercury into the English and Wabigoon river system. According to the story published in the Star this week, a former mill employee mill has now alleges that after the province finally stopped the mercury dumping in 1971, an additional 50 barrels of salt and liquid mercury were illegally buried in a plastic lined pit where it could be leaching into the river.

    June 06, 2016

    The Colombian authorities must ensure that the security forces, in particular the ESMAD anti-riot police, refrain from using disproportionate and excessive force against demonstrators, Amnesty International said today as a nationwide protest by rural communities enters its second week.

    According to local social and human rights organizations, at least 179 demonstrators have been injured and three Indigenous protestors killed since Indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities began a national mobilization on 30 May. There are also reports that members of the security forces have been injured.

    The demonstrators are protesting at what they argue is the Colombian government’s failure to comply with numerous agreements on a range of rural issues. These include agrarian reform; education; health; free, prior and informed consent; and mining.

    The security forces have a duty to guarantee public order but this must not be used as an excuse to ignore international standards on the use of force by the security forces.

    May 27, 2016

    The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group must immediately and unconditionally release two journalists and a cameraman that are believed to be hostages and must ensure that the three are treated humanely at all times, Amnesty International said today.

    Colombian-Spanish journalist Salud Hernández-Mora was last seen in the northern region of Catatumbo on 21 May, while Colombian journalist Diego D'Pablos and cameraman Carlos Melo disappeared two days later in the same region.

    This is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and risks undermining recent efforts to start peace talks with the ELN, the country’s second largest guerrilla group.

    The Colombian authorities must take all necessary measures to locate their whereabouts and to secure their release without jeopardizing their safety

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