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    October 02, 2016

    The rejection of the peace agreement in today’s plebiscite in Colombia is a missed opportunity for the country to finally move away from its tragic 50-year-long war, said Amnesty International.

    “Today will go down in history as the day Colombia turned its back to what could have been an end to a 50-year long conflict that devastated millions of lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Although imperfect, the agreement represented a concrete way forward for peace and justice. The uncertainly this vote brings could place millions of Colombians, particularly those from vulnerable groups such as Indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities at  greater risk of suffering human rights violations.”

    “It’s imperative that Colombia does not walk away from this project and that the country continues to move towards the long awaited peace millions are longing for.”

    Read more:

    Colombia: Historic peace deal must ensure justice and an end to human rights abuses (News, 26 September 2016)

    September 30, 2016

    The alleged ill-treatment of five Syrian refugee children who say they were detained, beaten and forced to strip naked by Greek police for carrying plastic toy guns in the street is a deeply disturbing incident that must be properly investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    The children, boys aged between 12 and 16, were seized “on suspicion of being members of an armed group” while they carried the toys as props on their way to perform in a theatre play in central Athens this week.

    “The ridiculous elements of this case should not deflect attention from the extremely serious and deeply disturbing nature of the allegations against Greek police officers, who are accused of committing human rights violations against children in their custody during an identity check,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    September 30, 2016

    Following today’s vote by Bulgaria's parliament to ban the wearing of face veils in public, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen said:

    “Women in Bulgaria should be free to dress as they please and to wear the burqa or the niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs. This ban violates their rights to freedom of expression and religion.”

    “This law is part of a disturbing trend of intolerance, xenophobia and racism in Bulgaria. Legitimate security concerns can be met with targeted restrictions on the complete covering of the face in well-defined high risk locations and not through a blanket discriminatory ban such as this.” 

     

    For more information, please contact:
    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations
    416-363-9933 ext 332
    Bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    September 30, 2016

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest outburst, where he likened himself to Hitler and vowed to “slaughter” three million people, Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “With this latest outburst, President Duterte has sunk to new depths. Governments - both in the region and around the world – should speak out immediately and condemn these outrageous statements. The words President Duterte used are not just extremely distasteful, they are extremely dangerous. They serve no discernible purpose other than to put more lives at risk.

    “Since coming to power, there has been a surge of state-sanctioned violence and unlawful killings across the Philippines. Instead of stopping and condemning these human rights violations, and ensuring those responsible are held to account, he has vowed to escalate them. Mass killing under President Duterte must end.”

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    September 30, 2016

    Fears are growing for hundreds of civilians who are trapped in a Benghazi neighbourhood which faces intensified fighting after several months under military blockade, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has gathered testimony from some of the 130 Libyan families and hundreds of foreign nationals who have been trapped for months in the residential district of Ganfouda, in south-west Benghazi. All entry roads are blocked by the fighting or Libyan National Army forces, and food, water and electricity supplies have been cut off.

    “Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting. While bombs and shells continue to rain down on them, civilians are struggling to survive on rotten food and dirty water. And the sick and wounded must make due with dwindling supplies of expired medicines,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    September 29, 2016

    Released 00:00 GMT on 30 September 2016

    September 29, 2016

    The UN Security Council must take action over the conflict in Darfur, Amnesty International, after the Sudanese government rejected evidence presented by the organization implicating their forces in the apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians.

    The Amnesty International investigation, Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air, points to the repeated use of chemical weapons in the remote Jebel Marra region of Darfur this year. Between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result of the attacks, many of them very young children.

    “Images of children suffering from horrific blisters and burns, reports of bombs emitting plumes of coloured smoke, and of people vomiting and struggling to breathe – these are the macabre hallmarks of chemical warfare, gathered in our report and crying out for an international inquiry,” said Tirana Hassan.

    September 29, 2016

    An Amnesty International investigation has gathered horrific evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in one of the most remote regions of Darfur over the past eight months.

    Using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors and expert analysis of dozens of appalling images showing babies and young children with terrible injuries, the investigation indicates that at least 30 likely chemical attacks have taken place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. The most recent was on 9 September 2016.

    September 28, 2016

    Since seizing power in a 2014 coup, Thailand’s military authorities have allowed a culture of torture and other ill-treatment to flourish across the country, with soldiers and policemen targeting suspected insurgents, political opponents, and individuals from the most vulnerable sections of society, a new report by Amnesty International said today.

    The report, “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow”: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand, documents 74 cases of torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of soldiers and the police, including beatings, suffocation by plastic bags, strangling by hand or rope, waterboarding, electric shocks of the genitals, and other forms of humiliation.

    September 28, 2016

    In response to the news that the 16-year prison sentence against prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who is critically ill, has been upheld on appeal, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said:

    “This verdict is yet another cruel and devastating blow to human rights in Iran, which demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for justice. Narges Mohammadi is a prominent advocate of human rights and a prisoner of conscience. She should be lauded for her courage not locked in a prison cell for 16 years.

    “By insisting that this harsh and appalling sentence is imposed for her peaceful human rights work, the authorities have laid bare their intent to silence human rights defenders at all costs.

    September 28, 2016

    Silencing human rights activists who highlight human rights violations will not solve the problem of torture and other ill-treatment in Thailand, Amnesty International said today.

    In Bangkok, Thailand’s authorities prevented Amnesty International from proceeding with the launch of “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand.” This report details torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of soldiers and the police against suspected insurgents, government opponents, and a range of individuals from vulnerable backgrounds, including alleged drug users and minorities.

    “The Thai authorities should be addressing torture, not human rights activists doing their legitimate work. Instead of threatening us with arrest and prosecution, they should be holding the perpetrators of torture accountable. It is an appalling state of affairs when speaking up for human rights can be criminalised but torture continues with impunityl,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director, Global Operations.

    September 28, 2016

    Nearly a year on from a bloody spike in violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) Israeli forces continue to display an appalling disregard for human life by using reckless and unlawful lethal force against Palestinians, Amnesty International said today.

    In a memorandum sent to the Israeli authorities on 14 September, the organization has detailed 20 cases of apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces seeking clarification about the status of investigations. In at least 15 of the cases, Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions. The Israeli authorities have not responded to Amnesty International’s concerns.

    “Since the escalation of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last year, there has been a worrying rise in unlawful killings by Israeli forces, fostered by a culture of impunity,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 27, 2016

    Today’s International Criminal Court (ICC) conviction of Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi, a senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, must be the first step towards broader accountability for all crimes committed during Mali’s 2012 conflict, Amnesty International said. 

    The ICC sentenced Al-Mahdi to 9 years imprisonment for intentionally directing attacks against religious buildings and historical monuments in the northern town of Timbuktu between June and July 2012. Al-Mahdi admitted his guilt to the court.  

    “This verdict is a clear recognition that attacks on religious and historical monuments can destroy the culture and identity of a population and constitute crimes under international law,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Advisor.

    “This positive development should not let us lose sight of the fact that hundreds of civilians were murdered, tortured and raped during the 2012 conflict in Mali. The ICC should therefore continue to investigate crimes committed by all sides to the conflict.”

    September 27, 2016

     Released  00.01 27 September 2016 CET

    Denial of effective access to asylum & degrading treatment Anti-refugee rhetoric reaching “fever pitch” ahead of referendum Prime minister Orbán throws down dangerous gauntlet to the EU

    Thousands of asylum-seekers – including unaccompanied children – are suffering violent abuse, illegal push backs and unlawful detention at the hands of Hungary’s authorities and a system blatantly designed to deter them, Amnesty International has revealed in a new report.

    Stranded hope: Hungary’s sustained attack on the rights of refugees and migrants, published against the backdrop of the toxic referendum campaign on refugee quotas, finds hundreds of asylum-seekers are left waiting for months in degrading conditions. Many of those who manage to get into Hungary are pushed back to Serbia or detained unlawfully in detention centres.

     

    September 26, 2016

     Released 2300 GMT 26 September 2016

    The success of an historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerilla group, which was officially signed today in Cartagena, rests on the Colombian authorities’ ability to ensure truth, justice and reparation for the millions of victims of the more than 50 year-long conflict, said Amnesty International.

    The peace agreement will still need to be ratified via a plebiscite, to be held on 2 October.

    “Today will rightly be a day of celebration in Colombia. The authorities must now guarantee this historic achievement is not undermined by ensuring that all those responsible for the despicable crimes under international law inflicted on millions of people over half a century face justice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The crimes of those who carried out, ordered or benefited from these abuses, including those in business and politics, cannot and must not be brushed off with the stroke of a pen.”

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