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    November 15, 2017

    In response to the military takeover and subsequent control of certain streets of the capital city Harare and the state-run broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said:

     

    “At this tense time, it is essential that the military ensure the safety and security of all people in Zimbabwe – regardless of their political allegiance - and refrain from any action that puts lives and human rights at risk.

    “Military officials must uphold human rights, including the right to liberty, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The free flow of information – through the media and social media - must be guaranteed.

    “The military takeover should not be used as an excuse to undermine Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments.”

    Background

    The Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Sibusiso Moyo announced the military takeover. He said that said they were targeting people around President Robert Mugabe who had caused “social and economic suffering” to bring them to justice.

     

    November 14, 2017

    The Russian authorities will tighten their stranglehold on press freedom in the country today by introducing a bill that designates foreign-funded news organizations as “foreign agents” and imposes onerous obligations to declare full details of their funding, finances and staffing, said Amnesty International.

    The move is likely to effect the Russian services of major international media outlets such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. All political parties represented in the State Duma, the Russian Parliament’s lower chamber, have expressed their support of the bill and are expected to pass it unanimously as early as Wednesday.

    “This legislation strikes a serious blow to what was already a fairly desperate situation for press freedom in Russia. Over the last couple of years, the Kremlin has been tirelessly building a media echo chamber that shuts out critical voices, both inside Russia and from abroad,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    November 14, 2017
    Over 30,000 forcibly evicted from settlements in Lagos state in defiance of court orders 11 people unlawfully killed and at least 17 missing after violent evictions by security forces and unidentified armed men 300,000 others are under threat of further forced evictions Evicted residents not provided with consultation, compensation or alternative housing

    Nigerian authorities must halt a violent, unlawful campaign of demolitions and forced evictions of waterfront communities in Lagos State which has so far left more than 30,000 people homeless and 11 dead, Amnesty International said today.

    November 13, 2017

    In response to findings released today after the Myanmar military’s internal investigation into violence in northern Rakhine State since 25 August, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “Once again, Myanmar’s military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet.

    November 13, 2017

    Whole civilian populations who have suffered horrific sieges and been subjected to intensive bombardments have been given no choice but to leave or die under so-called “reconciliation” agreements between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive new report published today.

    The government’s campaign of sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement, which has uprooted thousands of civilians and forced them to live in dire conditions, constitutes crimes against humanity.

    “We leave or we die”: Forced displacement under Syria’s ‘reconciliation’ agreements examines four of these local pacts and documents associated violations dating back to 2012. Reached between August 2016 and March 2017, the agreements led to the displacement of thousands of residents from six besieged areas: Daraya, eastern Aleppo city, al-Waer, Madaya, Kefraya and Foua.

    November 10, 2017

    The arrest and detention of Dalit rights activist Chandrasekhar Azad under the National Security Act a day after he was granted bail is a brazen attempt to sidestep human rights safeguards in the ordinary criminal justice system, Amnesty International India said today.

    Chandrasekhar Azad was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh state police under the National Security Act (NSA) on 3 November, a day after he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court after four months in jail. Newspaper reports had quoted the court stating that the cases against Chandrasekhar Azad appeared to have been politically motivated. Under the NSA, he is at risk of being detained for up to 12 months without charge or trial.

    November 09, 2017
    In response to today’s Appeal Court ruling in Mauritania releasing a blogger who had been sentenced to death for writing a ‘blasphemous’ post on Facebook, Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director said:   “The release of Mohamed Mkhaïtir, who has been jailed for nearly four years simply for peacefully expressing his opinions on Facebook, is a huge relief. This really is a day of triumph for him and his family, as well as all those who campaigned on his behalf since 2014.”   “Now that Mkhaitir is released, Mauritanian authorities must ensure that he lives without threat of physical attacks so that he can regain his dignity”.   “This ruling provides a golden opportunity for the Mauritanian authorities to change tack on this sensitive issue and halt their brutal crackdown on human rights activists. The authorities must now release Moussa Biram and Abdallahi Matallah the two anti-slavery activists currently jailed in a remote prison where they have spent nearly 500 days .’’  
    November 09, 2017

    More than 60 members of Egypt’s parliament have proposed a deeply discriminatory law that will explicitly criminalize same-sex sexual activity in the country for the first time, said Amnesty International. The move is the latest development since authorities launched an unprecedented LGBTI crackdown after a rainbow flag was displayed at a concert in Cairo on 22 September.

    The proposed bill defines “homosexuality” for the first time and sets harsher penalties of up to five years imprisonment - or even up to 15 years if a person is convicted on multiple charges under different provisions of the law.

    “For more than a month now the Egyptian authorities have waged a vicious crackdown targeting LGBTI people in the country. More than 70 people have been arrested and some have been subjected to anal examinations that amount to torture. This deeply discriminatory bill would be a huge setback for human rights and another nail in the coffin for sexual rights in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    November 08, 2017

    The passing of Chinese writer and government critic Yang Tongyan underlines an alarming lack of accountability for the pattern of deaths of activists released on medical parole, Amnesty International said.

    Yang Tongyan, 56, passed away on Tuesday, according to his close friends. The prominent activist spent nearly half his life in detention and was released in August on medical parole. He underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour on 23 August.

    “Yang Tongyan was a peaceful champion of human rights and democracy, who made a huge personal sacrifice to stay true to his principles. The authorities feared the power of his writing and did all they could to silence him. He should never have spent a single day in jail let alone nearly half his life,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    November 07, 2017

    Mauritania must immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Mohamed Mkhaïtir, who has been sentenced to death for criticizing the use of Islam to justify discriminatory practices against minority ethnic groups in the country, Amnesty International said ahead of his appeal trial.

    The case of Mohamed Mkhaïtir, who was sentenced to death in December 2014 for a “blasphemous” post he made on Facebook, will be heard for a second time by an appeal court in the north-western town of Nouadhibou tomorrow.

    “This case is absurd and represents a real setback for freedom of expression in a country that has not imposed punishment for apostasy in more than 50 years of independence,” said Kiné-Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner.

    “Mohamed Mkhaïtir is a prisoner of conscience who has been in detention for three years solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and standing-up against discrimination. His scandalous death sentence must be quashed and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    November 07, 2017

    Responding to the attack on the Pashto-language Shamshad TV station – a partner of the BBC – in Kabul by armed gunmen, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

    “The attack on Shamshad TV is a horrific crime that tragically demonstrates the risks Afghanistan’s journalists face for their legitimate work. The Afghan authorities must do what they can to protect the country’s media, allowing them to work freely and without fear. The perpetrators must be brought to justice through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. Impunity for attacks on journalists must end.

    “This latest attack also underscores the grim fact that Kabul continues to be one of the most hazardous places in the country. European countries, which continue to forcibly return people to Afghanistan, must confront this reality and dispense with the dangerous fiction that Afghanistan and its capital are safe. By sending asylum-seekers back to Afghanistan, they are putting them in harm’s way.”

     

    November 07, 2017
    The current situation on Manus Island amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment Lives are at risk unless PNG authorities restore essential services As Australia continues to flout international law, all refugees and vulnerable persons should be resettled to third countries

    Critical services - including food, water and medical treatment - must be restored to the more than 600 refugees and vulnerable men inside the Lombrum detention centre on Manus Island before a major tragedy occurs, Amnesty International said today as researchers returned from Manus Island.

    Refugees and vulnerable men should not be forcibly relocated until such time as their dignity and safety can be guaranteed.

    “Today, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court rejected a last ditch attempt by refugees to have these essential services restored and their rights protected. The decision is an abhorrent attack on the right to life,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher.

    November 06, 2017

    Governments must take urgent steps to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and companies, Amnesty International said today, after the leaked Paradise Papers shed new light on the murky dealings of the offshore financial industry.

    “When people do not pay their fair share of tax, it’s the poor who suffer the most. At a time when governments around the world are slashing spending on health, education, housing and welfare support, it’s shameful that so many wealthy individuals and companies are being allowed to stow away billions of dollars in tax havens,” said Iain Byrne, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisor at Amnesty International.

    “Governments must do more to stop tax havens - and the accountants, lawyers and consultants who work in them - from aiding and abetting this grand-scale tax abuse. We’ve heard too many empty promises. The time has come for action.”

    November 06, 2017

    Amnesty International is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise pressing human rights concerns during his visits to the Philippines and Viet Nam this week. In an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the organization highlighted opportunities to demonstrate much-needed leadership in addressing grave crises including the Philippines’ deadly ‘war on drugs’, detention of prisoners of conscience in Viet Nam and the crisis in Myanmar.

    During his visit, Prime Minister Trudeau will attend the ASEAN Summit in Manilla, which runs from November 10th-14th against the backdrop of a full-blown human rights crisis in the Philippines. Since 30 June 2016, President Duterte’s brutal crackdown against the urban poor carried out in the name of combatting the drug trade has resulted in up to 12,000 deaths, including 50 children, with a majority of those amounting to extrajudicial killings carried out with near-total impunity. Amnesty International research has found that the scope and nature of the abuses may constitute crimes against humanity.

    November 03, 2017

    NEW YORK— The Guantánamo military judge handling the case of the alleged USS Cole bomber has ordered three civilian defense attorneys who resigned from the case over alleged breaches of attorney-client privilege to testify from Virginia by video feed to the Guantánamo courtroom Friday morning in a contempt hearing. The hearing will follow Monday’s contempt charge of lead defense counsel, Peter Baker, who is confined to his quarters at Guantánamo, as well as a decision by the Defense Department’s top prosecutor to end regular media availability on commission matters.

    Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Director, Daphne Eviatar, issued the following statement ahead of tomorrow’s hearing:

    “This week is further evidence that the military commissions are what we always predicted – a human rights calamity and costly sideshow. It’s time to give up the illusion that either true justice or any semblance of a fair trial will result from these never-ending proceedings.

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