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    January 25, 2018

    Responding to the sentencing today of two prominent human rights activists Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh to 14 and seven years in prison respectively, Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for the Middle-East at Amnesty International said:

    “The harsh sentencing of Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, who should never have been prosecuted in the first place, confirms our fears that the new leadership of Mohamed Bin Salman is determined to silence civil society and human rights defenders in the Kingdom.

    “The crackdown on members of the human rights community has continued unabated, with almost all the country’s most prominent human rights defenders now behind bars. These actions, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, fly in the face of his recently declared ambitions to modernize the Kingdom.

    “If Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is truly intent on bringing reforms to Saudi Arabia, he must ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders, detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

    January 25, 2018
    The hearing due to be held tomorrow morning, 26 January, is a historic opportunity for Peru to put an end to the impunity created by President Kuczynski's decision to grant Alberto Fujimori grace, thereby violating the right of the victims of the Pativilca massacre to truth, justice and reparation, Amnesty International said today.   On 26 January Court B of the National Criminal Court will rule on the application of the grace granted to Alberto Fujimori in relation to the proceedings brought against him for the murder of six campesinos (peasant farmers) in the town of Pativilca on 29 January 1992, considered crimes against humanity. If applied, the grace would put an end to the criminal proceedings against him, perpetuating impunity and preventing the truth from being uncovered.   "The decision the judges make affects not only the rights of the victims, but the right of all Peruvians to know the truth about the crimes against humanity that occurred in Pativilca", said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
    January 24, 2018

    Reveal Fate, Whereabouts of Dong Samuel Luak, Aggrey Idri

    (Nairobi, January 24, 2018) – South Sudanese authorities have failed to investigate the enforced disappearance in Nairobi of two South Sudanese men one year ago, and hold those responsible to account, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. Kenyan authorities should also step up their ongoing investigation into the enforced disappearances.

    Dong Samuel Luak, a well-respected South Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist, and Aggrey Idri, a vocal government critic and member of the opposition, disappeared off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively. They are believed to have been abducted by or at the request of South Sudanese officials.

    “These two prominent men should not be allowed to simply vanish into thin air without a trace,” said Mausi Segun, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch. “Responsibility for the safety of both men lies with both South Sudan and Kenya, yet neither is making real efforts to solve their disappearance.”

    January 24, 2018

    In response to today’s attack on Save the Children’s offices in Jalalabad, which has left several people dead and a number of others injured, Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director said:

    “We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Save the Children following this dreadful news, which comes after a wave of violence against civilians including the deadly assault at the Intercontinental Hotel.

    “It is an organisation that has worked tirelessly in Afghanistan for more than four decades, delivering outstanding work during some of the country’s most turbulent periods.

    “Bombing and shooting people who are working for no other reason than to help improve the lives of young Afghans is a cowardly and despicable act. Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime.”

    January 23, 2018

    In a strongly worded open letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Amnesty International is urging the province not to fail the Indigenous peoples of the Peace River Valley a second time. The organization characterizes the Premier’s approval and rationale for the continued construction of the Site C dam as an abdication of his government’s fundamental responsibility to uphold the human rights of all without discrimination. Now that the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations have launched a new legal challenge to the dam, Amnesty is calling on the province to ensure that its response is consistent with BC’s human rights obligations, including by ensuring irreversible construction activities are deferred or suspended until the legal challenge is resolved.

    January 23, 2018

    Zambian authorities must immediately take steps to guarantee right to freedom of expression for artists, Amnesty International said today, after a crackdown on dissent forced a well-known musician to flee the country.

    Musician and activist Fumba Chama, also known as Pilato - left Zambia on 5 January after receiving threats over his new song Koswe Mumpoto (rat in the pot), which has been interpreted as criticising President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers. In it, he sings that the ruling elite are behaving like rats that steal food and eat, including things that they do not need.

    “The brazen determination by some in Zambia to silence dissenting views can only spell doom for the culture of robust engagement that the country has been known for,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The right to freedom of expression must be allowed to thrive.”

    January 23, 2018

    Mexican migration authorities are routinely turning back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return, in many cases violating international and domestic law by doing so, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    Based on a survey that captured 500 experiences of Central Americans travelling through Mexico, Amnesty International found that the National Institute of Migration (INM) is systematically violating the non-refoulement principle, a binding pillar of international and Mexican law that prohibits the return of people to a real risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. This serious failure by the Mexican government can cost, in many cases, the lives or safety of those returned to the country from which they fled. 

    January 22, 2018

    Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must promptly and thoroughly investigate and hold to account those suspected to be responsible for killing and injuring dozens of peaceful protesters in the capital Kinshasa on 21 January, said Amnesty International.

    Thousands of peaceful protesters rallied across the country in protests called by the Catholic Church to demand that President Joseph Kabila step down ahead of elections in December. The protesters were countered by security forces who shot live rounds at them killing at least six and injuring at least 49, according to the UN’s mission in the country.

    “This brutal response by the security forces to peaceful protests goes to show once again that repression has become the norm in the DRC, in blatant violation of the country’s constitution and its international human rights obligations,” said Jean-Mobert Senga, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the DRC.

    January 19, 2018

    New satellite imagery analysis by Amnesty International gives the first comprehensive view of how thousands of structures, including several schools, were demolished in sudden forced evictions that left more than 4,000 families homeless on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in late December.

    No warning was given before armed men accompanied bulldozers to raze the sites on 29 and 30 December 2017, according to UNICEF and Save the Children. UN agencies have said the forced evictions left more than 24,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) homeless, including 3,000 children.

    January 19, 2018

    Responding to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s threat to “hang” death row prisoners as a crime deterrent after more than a decade without an execution in the country, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser Oluwatosin Popola said:

    “President Museveni’s threat to resume executions to ‘prevent crime’ is misguided since there is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Rather, it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.

    "While the backlog of criminal cases in Uganda is something that needs to be addressed and expedited, resorting to the death penalty as some kind of 'quick-fix' is not the answer.

    “Uganda’s refusal to carry out executions in recent years has been a credit to President Museveni, but resuming them now would destroy more than a decade of progress, not to mention buck the global trend towards abolition.

    “Rather than talking of hanging criminals, the President must instead lead Uganda to fully abolishing the death penalty, just as 19 other African countries have done.”

    Background

    January 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is outraged by reports that Iranian authorities have amputated the hand of a man convicted of theft. The amputation, which was conducted by guillotine, took place yesterday in the central prison in Mashhad city in north-eastern Razavi Khorasan province, according to the state-sponsored newspaper Khorasan News.

    According to Khorasan News, the 34-year-old man, referred to as A. Kh., was transferred to a medical centre immediately after the punishment was carried out. He was sentenced to hand amputation six years ago for stealing livestock and other valuables from several villages in the province. The sentence was then upheld by the Khorasan Criminal Court of Appeal.

    “Meting out such unspeakably cruel punishments is not justice and serves to highlight the Iranian authorities’ complete disregard for human dignity. There is no place for such brutality in a robust criminal justice system,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    January 17, 2018

    Reacting to the police shooting dead at least eight protesters in Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “These shocking killings are yet another example of Myanmar security forces’ contempt for human life. Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands. This is a clear case of excessive use of force in violation of the right to life.

    “The lethal use of force must be independently investigated, and those responsible held to account. Far too often, police in Myanmar are allowed to escape unpunished after committing violations, allowing the cycle of impunity and abuse to continue.

    “The Myanmar authorities have a long and chequered history of using any means necessary to curb expressions of dissent. It is high time the Myanmar police better train and equip their staff in non-violent methods of crowd control. In particular, the authorities need to ensure that police have non-lethal means of force at their disposal to use where unavoidable.”

     

    January 16, 2018

    16 January 2018, Ottawa — Dr. Hassan Diab arrived in Canada and was reunited yesterday with his family in Ottawa. On January 12, two French investigative judges had dismissed the case against Diab and ordered his immediate and unconditional release, including the right to return to Canada. Hassan Diab, Don Bayne (Diab’s lawyer in Canada), Alex Neve (Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada), and the Hassan Diab support committee plan to hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 17.

    January 15, 2018

    Israeli authorities must release a 16-year-old Palestinian activist who could face up to 10 years in prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank last month, Amnesty International said as she appeared in court today.

    Ahed Tamimi will go before Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank accused of aggravated assault and 11 other charges after a video showing her shoving, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in her home village of Nabi Saleh on 15 December went viral on Facebook.

    “Nothing that Ahed Tamimi has done can justify the continuing detention of a 16-year-old girl. The Israeli authorities must release her without delay. In capturing an unarmed teenage girl’s assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    January 15, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Philippines authorities have ordered the closure of the independent media outlet Rappler, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The moves by the Philippines authorities to shut down Rappler is an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism. The government must immediately reverse this decision and end all efforts to stifle free press in the country.

    “This is a politically motivated decision, pure and simple, and just the latest attempt to go after anyone who dares to criticise the government. Rappler has been fearless in holding those in power to account, including by consistently criticising the government’s murderous ‘war on drugs’. It has faced persistent harassment by government supporters and even the President himself.

    “The Philippines government should focus on ending and investigating violations, mostly against poor communities, in the ‘war on drugs’, not trying to silence the messenger.”

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