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    March 14, 2018

    Responding to the conviction of Ahmed H, a Syrian man prosecuted for committing an alleged “act of terror” during clashes with Hungarian police at the Serbia-Hungary border in September 2016, Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Counter-Terrorism in Europe, said:

    “Today’s verdict reflects the dangerous confluence of Hungary’s draconian counter-terrorism laws and its merciless crackdown on refugees and migrants. Ahmed’s conviction on these charges should be quashed on appeal and he should be released without delay.”

    “Ahmed H, who was simply trying to help his family flee Syria, has been unjustly demonized both inside and outside the courtroom. None of the evidence against Ahmed constitutes “an act of terror” and his conviction is a blatant misuse of terrorism-related provisions.

    “After more than two-and-a-half years behind bars, this absurd decision comes as a devastating blow for Ahmed, his wife and his two young daughters.”

    Ahmed H was convicted for “complicity in an act of terror” and “illegal entry as part of a mass riot” and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and expulsion from Hungary for 10 years.

    March 14, 2018

    The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years, and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said today.

    The UN Mission, whose mandate is set to be extended tomorrow, has a crucial role to play in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.

    “With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of ousands of people in desperate need of protection,” said Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    March 14, 2018

    In response to the recent attacks on women rights activists and ahead of the expected trial of one of those activists, Olena Shevchenko, on Thursday, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Director, Oksana Pokalchuk, said:

    “By prosecuting Olena Shevchenko, the Ukrainian authorities have underscored just how far they are willing to pander to the far-right groups whose threats and violence marred International Women’s Day protests across the country".

    “The ugly scenes we saw in court once again prove that the Ukrainian authorities are failing to protect women rights activists from far-right violence, whether coming from organised movements, informal networks or individuals. It’s giving rise to a deeply troubling situation where radicals believe they can assault, threaten and humiliate women with total impunity.”

    Background

    This year in Ukraine, the Women’s Marches on International Women’s Day were marred by extreme right-wing violence against peaceful demonstrators. The attacks took place during and following the demonstrations in Kyiv, Lviv and Uzhgorod.

    March 14, 2018

    Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín, a 34-year-old woman who spent 15 years in prison after suffering a stillbirth, was released from prison on Tuesday following the reduction of her 30-year sentence for “aggravated homicide” under El Salvador’s total abortion ban. In response to her release, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Director, said:

    “While it’s a huge relief that Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín’s sentence was reduced and she has now been released, the real story here remains a tragedy. The fact that Maira has spent 15 years behind bars and had almost half of her life taken from her is a harrowing illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador.

    “El Salvador’s total abortion ban is causing pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families and clearly violates their human rights. El Salvador must decriminalize abortion without delay, and immediately and unconditionally release all women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or having suffered obstetric emergencies.”

    March 14, 2018

    The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt the imminent execution of a man who has been sentenced to death under the country’s cruel anti-drug laws, Amnesty International said today.

    The family of Hishamrudin Bin Mohd was told this week that his execution is scheduled to take place on Friday 16 March. He was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for possessing nearly 35 grams of diamorphine for the purpose of trafficking in 2016.

    “This execution must be stopped immediately. The Singaporean authorities only have two days to do the right thing and ensure that yet another life is not lost to its callous anti-drug laws,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but mandatory death sentences make its use even more appalling. These laws deny courts the ability to take into account the circumstances of the crime or of the defendant.”

    Both the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences and the imposition of mandatory death sentences contravene international law and standards.

    March 13, 2018

    In response to reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be replaced by current CIA director Mike Pompeo – who will in turn be replaced by current CIA deputy director Gina Haspel -- Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, issued this statement:

    “Both Pompeo and Haspel have deeply alarming records when it comes to human rights. Before they assume positions that could have repercussions for human rights around the world, they should be given utmost scrutiny by the Senate in the confirmation process.

    “Pompeo has previously voiced his support for interrogation tactics like waterboarding and there are reports that Haspel directed a CIA ‘black site’ at a time when detainees were subjected to torture and enforced disappearance. She may also have had a role in the destruction of evidence of such crimes under international law.

    March 12, 2018

    The Israeli authorities must immediately release Palestinian prisoner of conscience Munther Amira, whose arrest, continued detention and sentencing to six months in prison and five years’ probation for peacefully participating in protests is a blatant and appalling attempt to intimidate those who peacefully protest against Israel’s occupation, Amnesty International said today.

    Munther Amira was sentenced to six months in prison by Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank today. He was convicted on four charges relating to his participation in demonstrations, including “participating in a march without a permit”, which is not a recognised criminal offence under international law.

    “By sentencing Munther Amira to six months in prison for his peaceful participation in protests, the Israeli authorities continue to show contempt for their obligations to protect the rights of Palestinians living under their occupation. Munther Amira must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    March 12, 2018

    Responding to the news that UN officials have called for nearly $1bn (USD) in assistance for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, said:

    “The money is urgently needed to help the Rohingya refugees to be able to live in safe and adequate living conditions in the camps in Bangladesh. This is not a short-term crisis and there is little prospect of them being able to return to their homes in Rakhine State any time soon.

    “As the monsoon season looms, there is a great risk of landslides and floods striking the camps. The threat of diseases, such as diphtheria, measles and cholera, has to be aggressively combated with mass vaccinations and appropriate sanitation. The refugees also need food, clean water and healthcare. The needs of the local host communities, which have been severely affected, must also be carefully considered.

    March 12, 2018
    Dramatic increase of security infrastructure since January Military bases, helipads and roads built on burned villages Rohingya people forcibly driven off their lands to make room for construction

    Myanmar’s Rakhine State is being militarized at an alarming pace, as authorities are building security force bases and bulldozing land where Rohingya villages were burned to the ground just months ago, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    Through eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of satellite images, Remaking Rakhine State reveals how flattening of Rohingya villages and new construction have intensified since January in areas where hundreds of thousands fled the military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing last year. New roads and structures are being built over burned Rohingya villages and land, making it even less likely for refugees to return to their homes.

    March 09, 2018

    Following a court ruling today that Cumhuriyet’s editor in chief, Murat Sabuncu, and prominent journalist, Ahmet Şık, should be released from jail, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “After well over a year in prison on pre-trial detention, the release of these two journalists is long-overdue. The decision provides a glimmer of hope for the scores of other journalists behind bars in the country that has become the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

    “As Ahmet and Murat are reunited with their loved ones, shamefully, their colleague Akın Atalay will be led back to the prison cell where he has been held for more than sixteen months.

    “Akın Atalay and all other wrongfully imprisoned journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released and charges against them dropped. It is time for Turkey to let journalists do their essential work freely.”

    March 09, 2018

    Two women human rights defenders jailed for defending women’s rights and opposing the death penalty are being subjected to escalating ill-treatment in Shahr-e Rey prison, a former industrial chicken farm in Varamin, a town on the outskirts of Tehran, Amnesty International revealed. The organization is calling for the women’s immediate and unconditional release.

    Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are being held in unsanitary conditions in the quarantine section of the prison and their access to the outside world is being severely restricted. People detained in this section are given inadequate food and provided with salty water to drink. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who has been on hunger strike for 35 days, is in very poor health. In the past week, she was placed on IV fluids without her consent, and at times has been unable to move. She is suffering from severe cramping in her muscles, which the prison doctor has confirmed is a result of the hunger strike.

    March 08, 2018

    Russia urgently needs legislation to protect against all forms of gender-based violence, along with an end to the government-endorsed culture of stigmatization of women and girls who report it, said Amnesty International as it led a protest marking International Women’s Day in the country.

    The picket outside the State Duma in Moscow comes the day after sexual harassment allegations against a senior MP were met with mockery in parliament.

    The Speaker of the State Duma yesterday told three female journalists to “find another job” after they accused the MP of sexual harassment, including groping them during interviews. Under current Russian law, such behaviour is not a crime.

    “Last year Russian lawmakers passed a law to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence; now they are marking International Women’s Day by showing solidarity with an alleged perpetrator of sexual harassment,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    March 08, 2018

    Five Ottawa-area feminist leaders recognized for contributions toward gender equality

    Ottawa, March 6, 2018 – Ottawa-Gatineau’s largest International Women’s Day celebration is marking its 10th anniversary while honouring five Ottawa-area feminist leaders for their tireless work advancing women’s human rights and gender equality.

    This year’s International Women’s Day Ottawa event theme is Hashtags & Beyond, encouraged by #MeToo, #TimesUp and other growing movements of people breaking the silence about discrimination, harassment, and violence in Canada and internationally.

    For ten years, the Femmy Awards have honoured Ottawa-area feminists for their outstanding contributions to feminism under the categories of frontline service provision, thought leadership, arts and media, advocacy and youth. Recipients of the 2018 Femmy Awards are:

    March 07, 2018

    Officer Admits Superiors Ordered Dubious Charges

    (Nairobi, March 7, 2018) – An Equatorial Guinean court on March 7, 2018 released an artist imprisoned on dubious charges for nearly six months, 18 human rights groups said today. The prosecution dropped all charges against Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist whose work is often critical of the government, at his February 27 trial after the police officer who had accused him of counterfeiting $1,800 of local currency admitted making the accusation based on orders from his superiors.

    "It is a huge relief that the prosecution dropped its charges against Ramon, but they should never have been pressed in the first place," said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International's Writers-in-Prison Committee. "We urge the authorities to guarantee his safe return to his family, allow him to continue creating his hard-hitting cartoons, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea respects the right to freedom of expression.”

    March 07, 2018

    The Sri Lankan authorities must respect human rights under the state of emergency, Amnesty International said today.

    A state of emergency has been declared after two incidents of serious violence against members of the country’s Muslim minority. On 5 March, a mob set homes, shops and a mosque ablaze in the Digana area of Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. The incident came just days after a similar attack in the eastern coastal district of Ampara, on 26 February.

    “It is important that the authorities take action against mobs who have incited hatred and carried out acts of violence against religious minorities. They have a duty to protect vulnerable groups and hold the perpetrators accountable. But a state of emergency must not become a pretext for further human rights abuses,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    The declaration of the state of emergency comes amid fears that violence against members of the Muslim minority may spread to different parts of the country. Under emergency powers, the authorities have sweeping powers, including to search, arrest, and detain. A state of emergency was previously in force from 1971 to 2011.

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