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    December 04, 2017

    States around the world are failing in their duty to effectively protect people who defend human rights, leading to an escalation in preventable killings and enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s new report, Deadly but Preventable Attacks: Killings and Enforced Disappearances of Those who Defend Human Rights, highlights the growing risks faced by human rights defenders – people from all walks of life who work to promote and defend human rights.

    The report includes testimonies from friends, relatives and colleagues of human rights defenders, including environmentalists, LGBTIQ and women’s rights activists, journalists and lawyers, who have been killed or disappeared. Many described how victims’ pleas for protection had been repeatedly ignored by the authorities and how the attackers had evaded justice, fuelling a deadly cycle of impunity.

    December 04, 2017

    In response to the death threats made against Aunício da Silva, an investigative journalist and editor of Ikweli, a weekly publication in Nampula City in the north of Mozambique, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:

    “Aunício da Silva’s life has been threatened simply because he was doing his job as an investigative journalist: holding the powerful to account.

    “This incident represents yet another attack on media freedom in Mozambique and sends a chilling message to journalists across the country to stay silent or face the consequences.

    “Journalism is not a crime. Mozambican authorities must protect the profession by urgently investigating these threats against Aunício. Anyone found to be criminally responsible for threatening and harassing journalists must be brought to justice in a fair trial.”

    Background

    December 01, 2017

    Responding to news that the US Pentagon will indefinitely postpone a ban on older models of cluster munitions, Patrick Wilcken, Researcher on Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Cluster munitions are internationally banned for very good reasons. Those that don’t instantly explode lie dormant until they are uncovered by unsuspecting civilians, often children, killing and maiming them. The decision by the Pentagon to indefinitely postpone a ban on the most dangerous types beggars belief.

    “This is a profoundly retrograde step that puts the US way out of line with the international consensus – cluster munitions are banned by more than 100 countries due to their inherently indiscriminate nature and the risks they pose to civilians.

    “Apparently conscious of these risks, the Pentagon had originally promised to ban models that result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance by 2019. But today it has reneged on that promise by keeping older types with dud rates* of 20% or more, raising serious questions about its regard for the lives of civilians in war zones.

    December 01, 2017

    Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo must investigate the heavy-handed police crackdown on yesterday’s protests in which at least one man was shot dead and dozens more injured, said Amnesty International today.

    Police also arbitrarily arrested more than 200 protesters in cities across the country. While many were released later in the day, at least 100 remain in detention, including 45 in Goma and 12 in the capital Kinshasa.

    “This wanton disregard for protesters’ lives and the unlawful use of force cannot be tolerated. The use of firearms against unarmed protesters contravenes DRC’s obligations under international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The DRC must promptly launch an effective and independent investigation into the killing and injuries and bring all those responsible to justice. The ongoing pattern of repression against peaceful protesters and its associated impunity must stop.”

    November 30, 2017
    Verified photographs show Soviet-made cluster munitions used over densely populated areas by Syrian government forces Doctors describe dire humanitarian situation – including widespread malnutrition – amid tightening siege Witnesses recount indiscriminate attacks killing civilians as Syrian forces commit daily war crimes

    Syrian government forces’ increasing use of banned Soviet-made cluster munitions to carry out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians amid a tightening siege in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has killed at least 10 civilians and brought the area’s humanitarian crisis to breaking point, Amnesty International can reveal today.

    The organization interviewed five people currently under siege in Eastern Ghouta, among them activists and medical professionals, who described a severely deteriorating situation as the government has escalated its bombing campaign of this rebel-held enclave, near the capital, Damascus, since 14 November.

    November 30, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the federal government’s commitment to support in the establishment of a specialized treatment centre for people suffering from mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows. On November 29th, Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott committed to support “in the development, planning, design and construction of the treatment centre in Grassy Narrows.”

    “We welcome this long-overdue commitment which comes after years of requests from the Grassy Narrows First Nation for effective measures to address mercury poisoning and contamination of their waters,” says Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.  “All measures must be taken to ensure that this facility is established quickly, effectively and in collaboration with the people of Grassy Narrows in order to uphold the community’s right to much-needed health care resulting from years of grave human rights violations. We are also looking for the provincial government to fully assume their proper responsibilities in addressing human rights violations arising from mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows.”

    Background:

    November 30, 2017

    The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China today released an Open Letter calling Prime Minister Trudeau to place human rights at the top of his agenda during his visit to China this week, including by rigorously pursuing human rights protections in discussions related to trade and by firmly calling for the release of prisoners of conscience – including 16 individuals with close Canadian connections - unjustly imprisoned in the country.

    November 29, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release a journalist and prisoner of conscience who, as of today, has spent two full years in pre-trial detention for his reporting, said Amnesty International.

    Ismail al-Iskandrani is one of the few Egyptian journalists who continued to report critically on military operations in North Sinai despite authorities attempting to impose a blackout in the region. Under Egyptian law, two years is the maximum anyone can be held in pre-trial detention, which in itself raises serious human rights concerns.

    “Ismail al-Iskandarani has been detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and should never have been arrested in the first place. The judges reviewing his pre-trial detention would be flouting Egyptian and international law if they extend his unjust detention any further,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    November 29, 2017

    The Bangladesh government must abandon all plans to relocate more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees on to an uninhabitable island, Amnesty International said today.

    On Tuesday, the Bangladesh government approved a $280 million plan to develop the isolated, flood-prone and uninhabitable Thenger Char to temporarily house Rohingya refugees until they are repatriated to Myanmar.

    “It would be a terrible mistake to relocate the Rohingya refugees to an uninhabitable island that is far from other refugee settlements and vulnerable to flooding,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Having opened its doors to more than 600,000 Rohingya over the past three months, the Bangladesh government now risks undermining the protection of the Rohingya and squandering the international goodwill it has earned. In its desperation to see the Rohingya leave the camps and ultimately return to Myanmar, it is putting their safety and well-being at risk.”

    The Thenger Char, also known as Bhashan Char island, only emerged into view 11 years ago. During monsoon season, it is highly vulnerable to flooding.

    November 29, 2017

    In response to the dropping of subversion charges against Zimbabwean Pastor and activist, Evan Mawarire, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:

    “The dismissal of this case affirms Amnesty’s long-held position that Pastor Mawarire was an innocent victim of Mugabe’s ruthless campaign to criminalize dissent.

    “Hopefully the ruling signals a new beginning for the country, where the political repression which characterized Mugabe’s rule will no longer be tolerated.

    “The task for President Mnangagwa now is to ensure that a culture exists in Zimbabwe in which voices from outside his government are free to air their opinions on an equal platform, without fear of facing criminal charges.”

    Background

    Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe” on 31 January 2017. He was later released on USD 300 bail.

    Founder of the #Thisflag movement, he led several anti-government protests in 2016 against corruption, human rights violations and the declining economy in the country.

    November 29, 2017

    The family of an LGBTI activist hacked to death in Bangladesh, the sister of a young man gunned down by Jamaican police, and 11 human rights defenders in Turkey are among those who will be receiving letters of support from Amnesty International supporters this December, as the organization launches its fifteenth global letter writing campaign, Write for Rights.

    Every December, Amnesty International supporters across the globe write millions of letters and take actions for people whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights campaign. Last year at least 4.6 million actions were taken.

    “For 15 years Write for Rights has given people hope in their darkest moments. Imagine being ill in jail and receiving thousands of letters of support and solidarity; or finding out that people all over the world are behind you in your quest for justice for a murdered relative. Writing letters really can change lives,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    November 28, 2017

    Responding to the news that a Cairo court convicted 16 men of “debauchery” and sentenced them to three years prison followed by three years’ probation, Amnesty International’s Najia Bounaim the North Africa campaigns director said:

    “These sentences strike at the very heart of being human and are another example of the ongoing persecution of LGBTI people and the wider crackdown on human rights by Egyptian authorities. This prosecution violates the rights of these men to be treated equally regardless of their perceived sexual orientation.

    “In the last two months more than 70 LGBTI people have been arrested in an unprecedented crackdown with more than 40 sentenced for up to six years. The Egyptian authorities must quash the sentences against the 16 men immediately and unconditionally release them.

    “At least five of the men sentenced have been subjected to forced anal examinations following their arrest in September. Forced anal examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law. We condemn these actions in the strongest terms.”

    November 28, 2017

    Reacting to the remarks by Pope Francis during his visit to Myanmar today, Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “While it is disappointing that Pope Francis did not use the word Rohingya during his speech in Myanmar today, his calls for respect for all ethnic groups and an inclusive society are welcome. Pope Francis’ visit has also helped focus international attention on Myanmar and the horrific crimes being carried out against the Rohingya people on a daily basis by Myanmar authorities.

    “The real scandal of the visit was the insistence of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing that ‘there is no discrimination between ethnic groups in Myanmar’. The Myanmar authorities have trapped Rohingya in a system of repression and segregation that amounts to the crime against humanity of apartheid. Myanmar’s security forces, which Senior General Min Aung Hlaing commands, have also carried out a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya in recent months.

    November 28, 2017

    In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, prominent human rights and environmental organizations today are urging the federal and provincial governments to ensure people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation have access to specialized, long term medical care for mercury poisoning. Amnesty International Canada, The Council of Canadians, The David Suzuki Foundation, CUPE Ontario, KAIROS Canada, Canadian Friends Service Committee and Earthroots have written in support of the Grassy Narrows First Nation appeal for the creation of a specialized facility in their community to meet the needs of those suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning resulting from contamination of their river system.

    November 27, 2017
    Massive cache of internal documents and other evidence points to Shell’s complicity in horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military in the 1990s New Amnesty International report calls for a criminal investigation

    Amnesty International is calling on Nigeria, the UK and the Netherlands to launch investigations into Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.

    The organization has released a ground-breaking review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements, as well as Amnesty International’s own archive from the period.

    The Nigerian military’s campaign to silence the Ogoni people’s protests against Shell’s pollution led to widespread and serious human rights violations, many of which also amounted to criminal offences.

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