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    August 22, 2016

    The execution of 36 men in Iraq yesterday marks an alarming rise in the authorities’ use of the death penalty in response to the dramatic security threats the country is facing, said Amnesty International today.

    The men were convicted over the killing of 1,700 military cadets at Speicher military camp near Trikrit in June 2014, after a deeply-flawed mass trial which lasted only a few hours, and relied on “confessions” extracted under torture.

    “These mass executions mark a chilling increase in Iraq’s use of the death penalty,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office.

    “Time and time again, Amnesty International has emphasized that victims’ families have the right to truth and called for justice for the atrocities committed by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State. However, executing men who were forced to ‘confess’ under torture and were not given a proper chance to defend themselves is not justice.

    August 21, 2016
             States Parties still engaging in unscrupulous arms transfers, putting lives and human rights at risk          More than a quarter of States Parties are yet to meet the treaty’s reporting obligations          Some States Parties opting to reject public scrutiny of their arms transfers

    States must ensure the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) lives up to its promise to save lives and protect human rights from the devastating effects of the international arms trade by taking concrete, transparent steps towards more effective implementation, Amnesty International said today.

    The ATT’s second Conference of States Parties (CSP) takes place in Geneva from 22-26 August, and will be attended by hundreds of delegates from more than 100 countries. It is a key moment for States Parties to hold each other to account for the treaty’s implementation and to discuss ways of strengthening it.

    August 18, 2016

    Released  00.01 GMT 19 August 2016

    Commodities giant Trafigura must come clean over the contents of toxic waste dumped in the Côte d’Ivoire capital Abidjan ten years ago, said Amnesty International today.

    Trafigura has never disclosed exactly what was in the 540,000 plus litres of toxic waste dumped at 18 sites in Abidjan on 19 August 2006. More than 100,000 people sought medical attention after the dumping for a whole range of symptoms including dizziness, vomiting and breathing problems, and authorities reported 15 deaths.

    “A decade on from one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century, Trafigura and governments alike have abandoned the victims to suffer a toxic legacy. Meanwhile, Trafigura has rebranded itself, claiming it is a transparent, responsible company. This corporate giant, which posted profits of US$1.1 billion in 2015, must not be allowed to completely wash its hands of this disaster,” said Lucy Graham, researcher in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Team.

    August 18, 2016

    Researchers from the Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University of London have worked with survivors from Syria’s most notorious prison to build a digital reconstruction of the unmonitored and unphotographed facility, allowing us to see inside for the first time.

    Visit saydnaya.amnesty.org to explore the digital reconstruction of Saydnaya

    Since 2011 thousands have died in Syria’s prisons and detention facilities. With anyone perceived to be opposed to the Syrian government at risk, tens of thousands of people have been tortured and ill-treated, in violation of international law.

    In April 2016, Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture travelled to Istanbul to meet five survivors from Saydnaya Prison, near Damascus. In recent years, no journalists or monitoring groups which report publicly have been able to visit the prison or speak with prisoners.

    As there are no images of Saydnaya the researchers were dependent on the memories of survivors to recreate what is happening inside.

    August 18, 2016

    Responding to reports that at least six people, including four police officers, were killed and scores wounded when two car bombs exploded in eastern Turkey, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s car bombings are the latest in a series of reckless and brutal attacks in eastern Turkey which have claimed the lives of members of the public, including children.”

    “Those responsible for these crimes show a contempt for the right to life and must be brought to justice.” 

    *****

    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

     

    August 18, 2016

    Australia must establish independent bodies to investigate child abuse in its detention facilities across the country, Amnesty International said today after it obtained more than 1,000 pages of government documents revealing abuses in two more centres.

    The documents -- obtained by Amnesty International through a Freedom of Information request – showed a number of serious incidents, including where staff at the centres in the state of Queensland put child detainees in solitary confinement, deployed a security dog where a child was threatening suicide, caused bone fractures as a result of restraint and control techniques, and conducted partial strip searches using humiliating methods.

    “These official documents shine a light in the darkest corners of these detention centres, and reveal incidents, and in some case policies, which may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of Australia’s obligations under international law,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 17, 2016

    The horrifying experiences of detainees subjected to rampant torture and other ill-treatment in Syrian prisons are laid bare in a damning new report published by Amnesty International today which estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011 – an average rate of more than 300 deaths each week.

    ‘It breaks the human’: Torture, disease and death in Syria’s prisons documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. It retraces the experiences of thousands of detainees through the cases of 65 torture survivors who described appalling abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saydnaya Military Prison, on the outskirts of Damascus. Most said they had witnessed prisoners dying in custody and some described being held in cells alongside dead bodies.

    August 17, 2016

    A ruling to release a woman sentenced to eight years in prison after having a miscarriage in Argentina is a step forward for human rights in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Last night the Supreme Court of Tucumán, a state in north Argentina, said there were not enough reasons to keep Belén, 27, in pre-trial detention. The Supreme Court of Tucumán is yet to issue a final ruling on the eight-year sentence imposed on Belén by the lower court. Belén is expected to be released from jail today.

    “Belén’s release is extremely positive and long awaited news. What we need to see now is for the charges against her to be dropped. Belén should have never been held behind bars in the first place, having a miscarriage is not a crime,” said Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina.

    On 26 July, Amnesty International handed over more than 120,000 petitions from across the globe to local authorities, urging for Belén to be released.

    Background Information

    August 17, 2016

    Responding to today’s reports that the Australian Government-run refugee detention centre on Manus Island will close Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, said:

    “While welcoming the news that the centre will close Amnesty International urges the Australian Government to bring those currently held there to Australia. We must not forget that the Government set up a system of deliberate abuse of and cruelty towards almost two thousand people in two detention centres who are simply looking for a safe place to rebuild their lives.”

    “Amnesty International calls on Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton to urgently confirm the timeframe by which it will close the detention centre and safely settle refugees in Australia. Offshore processing can no longer be part of Australia’s response to those attempting to arrive here by boat seeking protection.”

    August 17, 2016

    The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Bahá’í religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith, Amnesty International said today.

    Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday.

    “The arbitrary arrests of Bahá’í people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 17, 2016

    Renewed violence underscores the urgency of bringing to account those responsible for crimes under international law committed during South Sudan’s armed conflict, said Amnesty International and FIDH today, a year on from a faltering peace agreement.

    The peace accord was signed on 17 August 2015 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. It requires the African Union (AU) to set up a hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity since the conflict began in December 2013.

    “Last month’s return to violence underscores the need to seek accountability for the horrendous crimes committed and should bolster, not undermine, the pursuit of justice,” said Elizabeth Deng, Amnesty International’s South Sudan Researcher.

    “The African Union must stop dragging its feet and take concrete steps to set up the court, including by immediately collecting and preserving evidence before it is lost and witnesses’ memories of events fade.”

    August 16, 2016

    Singapore’s Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill is a broad and vaguely worded law that will impose yet another undue restriction on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Under the guise of protecting the judicial system, the new law threatens to criminalise people for criticising the courts or the administration of justice in Singapore,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The new law, which was passed by Singapore’s parliament yesterday, includes punishments of up to three years in jail and $100,000 (US) in fines.

    Several sections in the new law grant the authorities far-reaching powers to crack down on any discussion, debate and criticism of cases under review by the judiciary.

    Section 11 of the Act, for example, widens the scope of already stifling restrictions on what can be said or written on the internet. All material that can be accessed by people in Singapore, regardless of whether it originated from there, can be subjected to the new legislation.

    August 16, 2016

    Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)’s  Board of Directors is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jayne Stoyles as the organization’s new Executive Director.  Jayne will take over from Bob Goodfellow who, after 28 years of strong leadership, is retiring in September. She joins Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, in the organization’s senior leadership.

    “Jayne’s experience, understanding and life-long commitment to human rights make her an extraordinarily effective leader, complimenting Amnesty International Canada’s  strong record of impactful human rights work at home and Internationally,” said Lana Verran, Board President for Amnesty International Canada. 

    “Amnesty is an organization whose core work consists of mobilizing and empowering its members and supporters to take action and effect meaningful progress in the protection of fundamental human rights,” said Alex Neve. “Jayne will bring the leadership, direction and passion needed to guide and enhance the organization’s critical work in the years ahead.”

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    August 15, 2016
    Lonmin only built three show houses in Marikana since 2006 Mine workers still live in “truly appalling” conditions Company’s excuses expose bad planning, false reports to shareholders Company admits 13,500 mine workers do not have formal accommodation

    British platinum mining giant Lonmin Plc is still failing to deliver adequate housing for its workforce in Marikana, in spite of the resounding wake-up call it received in the wake of the killing of 34 striking mine workers in 2012, Amnesty International revealed today in a new report.

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