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Q & A

    July 25, 2014

    What does Amnesty International think of the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on 23 July? What should happen next?

    Amnesty International welcomes resolution S-21/1 to establish a commission of inquiry and notes that the wording allows the commission to investigate violations of international law by all parties to the current conflict. The commission of inquiry represents an important opportunity to break the cycle of persistent impunity for crimes under international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In order to be effective the commission of inquiry must be thorough, independent and impartial, and look into violations by any party to the conflict. It must be adequately resourced and have unrestricted access to all relevant areas. Amnesty International urges all states – including all EU member states, who abstained on the resolution – to co-operate with the commission as required.

    What are the key obligations of the parties to the conflict during the hostilities under international humanitarian law?

    April 11, 2014

    Background

    The Seleka militia (meaning “alliance” in Sango, the national language) was responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) over the course of 2013. After a murderous rampage that started in the north-east, the Seleka spread out across the country, seizing the capital Bangui and ousting then-President François Bozizé in March 2013. Over the following 10 months, Seleka forces killed countless civilians, burned numerous villages, and looted thousands of homes. (See Amnesty International, CAR: Human rights crisis spiralling out of control, AFR 19/003/2013.)

    August 29, 2013

    In recent days, a number of governments have signalled their intention to take military action against the Syrian government, which they hold responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attacks of 21 August. Scores of civilians, including many children, were apparently killed in the attacks on the outskirts of Syria’s capital, Damascus.

    Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones such an armed international intervention. It also takes no position on the legality or moral basis for any such action. In situations of armed conflict, Amnesty International focuses on ensuring that warring parties respect international humanitarian law and human rights.

    April 04, 2012

    Amnest International's response the ICC Office of the Prosecutor's statement that it cannot investigate crimes committed during the Gaza conflct

    On 3 April 2012, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an update on its preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine. This preliminary examination was initiated after the Palestinian Authority (PA) submitted a declaration to the ICC in January 2009, in the aftermath of the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, to determine whether the ICC could open an investigation into crimes committed during that conflict. The Office of the Prosecutor concluded that it is unable to proceed with investigating and prosecuting these crimes unless the relevant United Nations bodies (in particular, the Secretary General and General Assembly) or the ICC Assembly of States Parties (made up of 121 states that have ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC (Rome Statute)) decide that Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute.
     

    February 02, 2012

    3 February 2011 was the day when protests in Yemen transformed into a mass movement. On that day a broad group of mainly students and activists calling itself the Youth of 3 February (since referred to itself as Youth of the Revolution) attracted tens of thousands of people to mass protests in the capital Sana’a.

    Protests had begun the previous month after the government announced draft constitutional amendments to allow President Ali Abdullah Saleh, head of state since 1978 – first as President of north Yemen and then of unified Yemen –  to run for Presidential elections for unlimited terms. But they were also fuelled by frustration at corruption, unemployment and repression of freedoms in the country, and partly inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt.

    The protesters called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to dismiss the government and corrupt officials, dismiss his son as head of the Republican Guard and Special Forces, dissolve Parliament, appoint a government of national unity, return “embezzled” funds, and resign from the presidency and pledge not to run for office again.

    June 14, 2011

    UK broadcaster Channel 4 is airing ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, a harrowing documentary exposing shocking new evidence of war crimes committed during the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. 

    What new footage and new evidence of war crimes is in the Channel 4 documentary?
    •    Previously unaired mobile phone footage of point-blank extrajudicial executions of three people, including a woman. 
    •    Previously unaired mobile phone footage of dead Tamil Tigers, including women,,that suggests sexual abuse.
    •    First video testimony of a Tamil woman who says she and her daughter were gang-raped by Sri Lankan Army soldiers.
    •    Evidence and testimony that the Sri Lankan Army systematically and knowingly bombed hospitals and civilians, with the oversight of senior military and government officials. 

    How significant is it that a woman speaks out about allegations of rape?
    Such testimony is very rare, due to a fear of reprisal and the stigma attached to rape. 

    December 09, 2010

    International controversy over the Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables continues to rage. In recent days, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have barred their users from donating to Wikileaks, alleging that the site may be engaged in illegal conduct. Amnesty International examines some of the human rights issues at stake.

    Would prosecution of Julian Assange for releasing US government documents be a violation of the right to freedom of expression?

    The US government has indicated since July 2010 that it is conducting a legal investigation into the actions of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange for distributing secret documents. A range of US political figures have called for a criminal prosecution of Assange.

    According to Amnesty International, criminal proceedings aimed at punishing a private person for communicating evidence about human rights violations can never be justified. The same is true with respect to information on a wide range of other matters of public interest.

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