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    October 03, 2017

    AI observers confirm the dangerous and inappropriate use of riot control equipment, including beating of defenceless people offering no resistance, and calls for a swift, thorough and impartial investigation into the events

    Amnesty International has directly confirmed on the ground that members of the National Police force's Police Intervention Unit (UIP) and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators who were passively resisting in the streets and at the entrances to polling stations. The security forces were acting on the ruling of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which ordered them to prevent the holding of a referendum. The Ministry of the Interior reports that the security forces intervened and shut down 92 polling stations. According to information from the Generalitat (the government of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia), there were a total of 2,315 polling stations, 400 of which were shut down by court order.

    October 03, 2017

    In response to the arrest of Newsday journalist Kenneth Nyangani for reporting that first lady Grace Mugabe and officials from the ruling ZANU-PF party donated used clothes, including night dresses and underwear, to the party’s supporters in Mutare, Cousin Zilala, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe said:

    “The arrest of Kenneth Nyangani is a deliberate tactic to harass and intimidate him and other journalists in order to deter them from doing their work. The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths.

    “Zimbabwean journalists should not be criminalized simply for doing their work. Kenneth Nyangani must be released immediately and unconditionally and all charges against him dropped.”

     

    For more information please contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    October 02, 2017

    Amnesty International can confirm that at least 17 people have been killed by the security forces following yesterday’s protests in several towns of the Anglophone regions in Cameroon. Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher said:

    “The worrying escalation witnessed over the weekend has now reached a crisis point. The use of excessive force to silence protests in the West and South-West regions of Cameroon is not the solution.

    “All deaths related to these protests must be promptly and effectively investigated.”

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    Media contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    October 02, 2017

    The Saudi Arabian authorities executed a man today, bringing the total number of people put to death so far in 2017 to 100, with 60 people executed in the past three months alone, said Amnesty International.

    “Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.

    “If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”

    Forty percent of the executions carried out so far this year were related to drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.

    Unfair trials

    October 02, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities have arrested 22 people over the past three days alone, stepping up a campaign of persecution against LGBTI people in the country which began after a rainbow flag was displayed at a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo provoking a public outcry, Amnesty International said today.

    The arrests bring the total number of people who have been detained based on their perceived sexual orientation to 33 - 32 men and one woman - since the Public Prosecutor announced an investigation into the rainbow flag “incident” on 25 September. The Forensic Medical Authority has carried out anal examinations on at least five of those arrested.

    “In a matter of days the Egyptian security forces have rounded up dozens of people and carried out five anal examinations signalling a sharp escalation in the authorities’ efforts to persecute and intimidate members of the LGBTI community following the rainbow flag incident,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “Forced anal examinations are tantamount to torture – there is no scientific basis for such tests and they cannot be justified under any circumstances.

    October 02, 2017

    On learning of the reported death of a refugee who had been held in the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island, Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International said:

    “This tragic and avoidable death is the sixth death related to the Manus Island centre, and the ninth overall connected to Australia’s offshore processing regime.

    “Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has blood on his hands. This death proves, yet again, that offshore processing is untenable, and must end immediately.

    “This death comes only a few days after a small number of refugees were offered asylum in the United States, making the situation increasingly desperate for those who are left behind in Australia’s offshore processing centres.

    “Australia must immediately ensure the safety of all people held on Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The fairest and quickest way to ensure safety for all remains bringing them to Australia to process their asylum claims, and welcome refugees into our community.”

     

    October 02, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a mass shooting last night in Las Vegas, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director, released the following statement:

    “Last night’s shooting in Las Vegas demonstrated an utter contempt for human life, and our thoughts are with the victims of these attacks and the city of Las Vegas. But thoughts must be backed up with actions to protect people from this kind of violence. No one’s life should be threatened just by walking down the street, going to school or attending a concert.

    “The U.S. government must uphold its obligations under international law and address gun violence as the human rights crisis that it is. It is critical to reform the current patchwork of federal, state and local laws to ensure everyone’s safety and security.”

    As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the U.S. government is obligated to protect people from gun violence.

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    October 02, 2017

    Following worrying reports that several people have been shot dead by security forces in massive protests- some of which turned violent- in the Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Lake Chad researcher said.

    “The reported unlawful killing of several people in the Anglophone regions by the security forces coupled with the blocks on Facebook and WhatsApp represent an extremely worrying escalation of the government’s on-going campaign to silence any form of dissent in the West and South-West regions of Cameroon.

    “In order to avoid further bloodshed, the security forces must cease unnecessary and excessive use of force, and protesters should be peaceful if they want to make their voices heard. The government should investigate these killings.

    “The arbitrary decision to ban meetings and movement is totally unacceptable. The authorities must respect people’s right to freedom of assembly and movement.”

    Background

    October 02, 2017

    Responding to clashes between police and protesters around today's Catalan referendum, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director said:

    "Spanish police have clearly been obstructed in the exercise of their duties at numerous polling stations today, but there is plenty of footage to suggest that police officers have used excessive and disproportionate force at at least some of them. With tensions running high, it is essential that both Spanish law and international human rights law is respected.

    “Spanish police must avoid the excessive use of force; and whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable, they must use it with restraint and in proportion to the seriousness of the law enforcement objective.”

    A delegation of Amnesty International researchers has been deployed in Catalonia throughout the day to monitor the respect for human rights. The organisation will publish more detailed findings tomorrow.

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    For more information please contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236 or jkueyn@amnesty.ca

    September 30, 2017

    Six men arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” and “debauchery” on social media will be subjected to invasive forensic anal examinations said Amnesty International, ahead of their trial tomorrow on Sunday 1 October. The arrests, on the evening of 27 September, came shortly after Egypt’s chief prosecutor announced an investigation in response to a public backlash against a recent concert in Cairo by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Laila where members of the crowd raised a rainbow flag.

    The Forensic Medical Authority is due to subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have engaged in same sex sexual relations. Amnesty International believes that such examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

    “The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    September 29, 2017

    A resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council today, mandating a group of international experts to investigate abuses by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, is a momentous breakthrough that will pave the way for justice for countless victims of human rights abuses and grave violations of international law, including war crimes, said Amnesty International.

    The resolution was passed today by consensus, after intensive negotiations. It is the result of years of campaigning and lobbying by Yemeni human rights organizations as well as Amnesty International and other international organizations.

    “This resolution is a victory for Yemenis whose suffering at the hands of all parties to the conflict in Yemen has been overlooked by the international community. The resolution offers hope for those seeking justice and can serve as a stepping stone towards accountability,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research.

    September 29, 2017

    Thousands of Burundian refugees are under mounting pressure to return to their country where they would be at risk of death, rape and torture, said Amnesty International in a report out today.

    Conform or flee: Repression and insecurity pushing Burundians into exile launches after two East African countries stopped automatically granting refugee status to Burundian asylum seekers. Tanzania stopped in January, and Uganda in June this year.

    The Burundi government has been pressing refugees to return. On a visit to Tanzania in July – his first foreign visit since a coup against him failed two years ago – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called on the more than 240,000 refugees there to return home. His comments were echoed by President John Magufuli of Tanzania. Other senior Burundian officials have taken the same message to Uganda’s refugee settlements.

    “While the Burundian government says all is well and urges refugees to return, more Burundians continue to flee the country due to repression and insecurity,” said Rachel Nicholson, Amnesty International’s Burundi researcher.

    September 28, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities must drop all charges against Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and human rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and at least 23 other defendants, who could face up to four years in prison simply for criticizing the country’s flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.

    A Cairo criminal court is due to hand down its verdict in the case against a total of 25 defendants, on Saturday 30 September. At least 24 of the defendants including Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egyptian politician Amr Hamzawy, and former Member of Parliament Essam Sultan, have been charged with defamation for their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian judiciary as biased and a puppet in the hands of the state.

    “This trial is an attempt to silence criticism of a judiciary that has itself become a source of human rights violations. ‘Insulting’ public institutions or officials is not a criminal offence under international law, and no one should stand trial - let alone face imprisonment - for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    September 28, 2017
    Authorities must not “push-back” Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar Refugees sent back to face certain persecution Thailand should provide refugees formal legal status and protection

    With the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis developing on its doorstep, Thailand must take concrete action to reverse its long-standing failure to offer protection to those most in need, Amnesty International said today as it launched a report revealing gaping holes in the country’s refugee policies.

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place outlines a number of failures by the Thai government in policy and practice that have a devastating impact on refugees both within the country and seeking safety there. These include Thailand’s long-standing practice of using its navy to repel boats carrying thousands of desperate Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis; as well as its forcible return of refugees and asylum-seekers to places where they risk torture and other serious human rights violations.

    September 27, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Ilmi Umerov, a prominent critic of the Russian occupation and leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is the latest encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms on the peninsula, and must be immediately quashed, said Amnesty International. Ilmi Umerov was sentenced by a de facto court in Crimea this morning to two years in a penal colony.

    Last week, the same court handed Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena a two and a half year suspended prison sentence. Both men stood accused of threatening territorial integrity of the Russian Federation on account of their public opposition to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.

    “The sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, who is 60 and has Parkinson’s disease, marks yet another stage in the de facto government’s lengthy persecution of him. His imprisonment follows a series of politically-motivated trials, arbitrary arrests and intimidation against critics of Russian authorities in Crimea. It is a clear violation of freedom of expression,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

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