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    October 17, 2017

    Ottawa -- Days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Mexico, nine leading Mexican human rights experts are in Ottawa to seek strengthened Canadian support for their efforts to address an acute and worsening human rights crisis in Mexico.

    While Canada has been vocal in its support for the victims of two severe earthquakes that hit Mexico in September, the visiting Mexican human rights experts want Canada to respond with even greater attention to the hundreds of thousands of victims of an acute human rights emergency that worsens with each day.

    October 16, 2017

    Authorities Should Rein in Law Enforcement for Repeat Election



    (Nairobi, October 16, 2017) – Kenyan police killed at least 33 people, possibly as many as 50, and injured hundreds more in some parts of Nairobi, the capital, in response to protests following the August 8, 2017 elections, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today.



    The 37-page report, “‘Kill Those Criminals’: Security Forces’ Violations in Kenya’s August 2017 Elections,” documents excessive use of force by police, and in some cases other security agents, against protesters and residents in some of Nairobi’s opposition strongholds after the elections.



    Researchers found that although police behaved appropriately in some instances, in many others they shot or beat protesters to death. Other victims died of asphyxiation from inhaling teargas and pepper spray, from being hit by teargas canisters fired at close range, or from being trampled to death by fleeing crowds.



    October 13, 2017

    Groups Warn Bill c-47 IS INCOMPLETE AND DOES NOT COVER THE Majority of CanadIAN Arms ExportS

    Canada’s welcome commitment to accede to the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) risks being fundamentally undermined by troubling shortcomings in the federal government’s proposed approach to implementation, warns a group of ten human rights, arms control and disarmament organizations in a briefing paper submitted to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

    October 13, 2017

    HUMAN RIGHTS AND ARMS CONTROL GROUPS TO CALL FOR CHANGES TO BILL C-47

    Ottawa – On October 16th, a group of human rights, arms control and disarmament groups will host a press conference on Parliament Hill calling on the government to make changes to Bill C-47, legislation tabled by the government in May 2017 in order to prepare Canada for accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). In its current form, Bill C-47 would fall significantly short of Canada’s ATT treaty obligations towards arms exports. We have therefore submitted to the government a policy paper, to be released publicly at the press conference, outlining 10 key areas where Canada’s proposed approach to ATT accession raises serious concerns. The organizations endorsing the policy paper include Amnesty International Canada (English Branch), Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, Project Ploughshares, Oxfam-Canada, Oxfam-Québec, the Rideau Institute, Group of 78, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, World Federalist Movement-Canada and the Human Rights and Research Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.

    October 13, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the execution of a 17-year-old boy who was convicted of murder and rape, and commute his death sentence to imprisonment, said Amnesty International.

    Amirhossein Pourjafar is scheduled to be executed in a prison in Tehran on 19 October 2017. He was detained in April 2016 and sentenced to death six months later after being convicted of the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, Setayesh Ghoreyshi, from Iran’s marginalized Afghan community.

    “There is no question that this was a horrific crime and the perpetrator should be held accountable. Amnesty International supports the demands for justice voiced by Setayesh’s bereaved family and the wider Afghan community in Iran, but executing a 17-year-old boy is not justice,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed while they were under 18 is absolutely prohibited by international human rights law. If Iran goes ahead with the execution next week it will be another appalling breach of its international obligations.”

    October 13, 2017
    More than 500 people detained in towns including Bamenda and Buea Wounded protestors flee hospitals for fear of arrest Arrested protestors forced to pay 60 USD bribe to be released

    At least 500 people remain detained in overcrowded detention facilities following mass arbitrary arrests in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, and many wounded protestors fled hospitals to avoid arrest, Amnesty International said today.

    Those detained were arrested following protests in dozens of towns in North-West and South-West Cameroon on 1 October, in which more than 20 people were unlawfully shot dead by security forces.

    “This mass arrest of protestors, most of whom were acting peacefully, is not only a violation of human rights, but is also likely to be counter-productive,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher.

    “The Cameroonian authorities should release anyone detained only for exercising their right to peaceful protest.”

    October 12, 2017
    Stars of stage and screen have added their voices to the global demand for the immediate and unconditional release of a group of prominent human rights defenders in Turkey, one hundred days after they were detained.   More than 20 artists and celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, Whoopi Goldberg and Zach Galifianakis, signed a letter sent by Amnesty International USA to the Turkish ambassador. They join a host of other celebrities including Annie Lennox, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Angélique Kidjo, and Patrick Stewart, who have called for the release of the activists that include Amnesty International’s Turkey Director, İdil Eser, and Chair, Taner Kiliç.   Ten activists were arrested on 5 July whilst Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. On 4 October a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd and trumped up terrorism charges.  
    October 11, 2017

    The United Nations must take firm action in response to credible new evidence that UN peacekeepers drugged and raped a young woman in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today after interviewing the victim and 10 others with direct knowledge of the case.

    The organization’s on-the-ground research revealed that one or more Mauritanian peacekeepers allegedly raped a 19-year-old woman in the central town of Bambari on the evening of 30 September 2017.

    “We have uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that at least one Mauritanian peacekeeper, and possibly more, raped a young woman,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. “The public authorities in the town of Bambari have confirmed the rape, and the UN is investigating it.

    “If substantiated, these serious rape allegations should result in the repatriation, suspension, and prosecution of any troops suspected of criminal responsibility. The UN must also ensure the victim receives support and damages. Its peacekeepers are in CAR to protect civilians from violence, rather than perpetrate it.”

    October 11, 2017

    Singapore’s continued reliance on mandatory death sentences, which violate international law, has meant that dozens of low level drug offenders have been sent to death row in recent years, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Cooperate or Die also reveals how death penalty reforms introduced in 2013, while reducing the number of people sentenced to death, do not go nearly far enough and in particular have left life and death decisions in the hands of the public prosecutor instead of judges.

    “Singapore likes to paint itself as a prosperous and progressive role model, but its use of the death penalty shows flagrant disregard for human life. The country relies on harsh laws that overwhelmingly target drug offenders on the lower rungs of the ladder, many of whom will come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser.

    “The reforms introduced in 2013 were a step in the right direction and have allowed some people to escape the gallows, but in key respects they have been flawed from the outset.

    October 11, 2017

    As the mass trial of Boko Haram suspects on terrorism-related charges continues in Nigeria, Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said:

    “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members. However, the fact the trials are taking place behind closed doors, with no access for the media or the public, raises huge concerns. Public hearings are crucial for protecting an individual’s right to a fair trial and due process.”

    “The Nigerian authorities must ensure that all fair trail rights are respected. Defendants must have access to lawyers and interpreters if required, and that witnesses and victims are protected from potential reprisals.”

    Amnesty International has repeatedly documented how thousands of people have been rounded up in mass arbitrary arrests with little or no evidence and held in detention for years.

    “In instances where no prima facie case has been established, as is reportedly the situation in some of the cases, detainees should be immediately released.”

     

    October 10, 2017

    States that retain and use the death penalty are increasingly isolated and should take steps to join the global trend, Amnesty International said today on the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    2017 marks 40 years since Amnesty International fostered the landmark Declaration of Stockholm, the first international abolitionist manifesto on the death penalty. Issued in 1977, the Declaration called on all governments to totally abolish the punishment:

    “When the state uses its power to end the life of a human being, it is likely that no other right is inviolate. The state cannot give life, it should not presume to take it away.”

    At the time of the declaration, only 16 countries — eight in the Americas and eight in Europe — had fully abolished the death penalty in law and practice. That number now stands at 105. A further 36 countries have either repealed the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder or effectively stopped using the punishment though it remains in their laws.

    October 10, 2017

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you on behalf of the 400,000 supporters of Amnesty International across Canada to share a number of urgent recommendations about pressing human rights concerns that we hope you will raise during the meetings you will have with Presidents Trump and Peña Nieto during your visits to Washington and Mexico City next week.  We lay out bilateral, trilateral and global concerns and recommendations in the attached Annex.  We urge you to recognize that human rights considerations must figure prominently in your meetings with both Presidents and that concrete human rights commitments and action are central to the various issues you will be discussing.  We urge you to:

    October 10, 2017

    The passing of a new law reforming the legal recognition of gender identity, is an historical step forward for transgender people in Greece, said Amnesty International.

    The new law adopted today expressly states that transgender people can change their papers without the requirement of medical interventions or tests.

    “Today’s reform is a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality for transgender people for years. It sends out a clear message that no one should be forced to go through medical procedures in order to be officially recognized for who they are,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    “Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won. The Greek government must make further changes in law to ensure that transgender people in Greece can be legally recognised as who they are without having to give up other rights.”

    Background:

    October 10, 2017

    Amnesty International has unveiled the first ever, monumental ‘Aubusson’ tapestry designed by Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero at Bogota’s international airport.

    The twenty square metre tapestry, ‘The Musicians’, woven over the past several months by artisan weavers at Ateliers Pinton, in France, was commissioned by Art for Amnesty on behalf of Amnesty International to promote the human rights of millions across Colombia.

    “I’m very honoured that Amnesty International selected me for this present to Colombia. This tapestry will show all visitors to Colombia how important art and culture are here,” said Fernando Botero.

    “Colombia is going through one of the most hopeful and challenging moments in its recent history. After the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia nearly a year ago, all eyes are on the authorities to ensure justice prevails for the millions of victims of the country’s five decade long war,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 10, 2017

    ‘The new criminal proceedings against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe are as baseless as the original ones’ - Kerry Moscogiuri

    Responding to news from Richard Ratcliffe that his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - a British-Iranian charity worker who has been unjustly jailed in Iran for the past year-and-a-half - may be facing additional criminal charges and a further prison sentence, Amnesty International UK’s Campaigns Director, Kerry Moscogiuri, said:

    “Coming against a backdrop of last year’s blatantly unfair trial and sentence, this is very depressing news and a really worrying development.

    “The new criminal proceedings against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe are as baseless as the original ones, and once again criminalise this charity worker’s peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association through her work with Reuters and the BBC.

    “The Iranian authorities have a track record of bringing fresh criminal charges against prisoners of conscience who they wish to keep in jail.

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