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    November 18, 2016

    Fears are growing for the physical and mental health of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker who is serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran, convicted of “national security” charges after an unfair trial, said Amnesty International today.

    Her husband, Richard Radcliffe, told the organization that her health has sharply deteriorated in recent weeks and she has even contemplated suicide. She became so unwell that the authorities arranged an emergency family visit for her today. She is suffering from heart palpitations in addition to pain in her hands, arms and shoulders and blurred vision. She also began a hunger strike on 13 November to express her despair over the prospect of never being released.

    “The news of the decline in Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe’s health is deeply alarming.

    Her imprisonment on spurious ‘national security’ charges has been utterly unjust,” said Philp Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    November 18, 2016

    November 18, 2016 – The Trans Equality Canada coalition applauds the government and all parties in the House of Commons for quickly passing Bill C-16, an important step towards enshrining the equal rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and providing protection from hate crimes. We especially commend MP Randall Garrison and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould for their leadership in this initiative.

    As we approach the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, this legislation is an important step towards upholding the human rights of individuals who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence.

    Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

    November 18, 2016

    The Malaysian government must immediately end its crackdown on Bersih, a coalition of civil society groups campaigning for electoral reforms and against corruption, and allow civil society to peacefully exercise its human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    A day before a major rally, the Malaysian police raided the offices of Bersih, arresting the chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and secretary Mandeep Singh. They also seized computers, mobile phones and documents. Activists from other sections of Malaysian civil society were also arrested.

    “These arrests are the latest in a series of crude and heavy-handed attempts to intimidate Malaysian civil society activists and other human rights defenders.  They must be released immediately and unconditionally, and tomorrow’s rally must be allowed to go ahead peacefully,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    November 18, 2016
           Amnesty International ‘I Welcome’ live experiment streams on Facebook Live from Sydney, Nairobi, London and Mexico City at 19.00 local times.

    In the face of divisive rhetoric and anti-refugee hostility, refugees and local people on four different continents will come together for a unique social experiment, affirming our shared humanity, to be streamed live on Amnesty International’s global Facebook page today.

    November 18, 2016

    The release of a prominent Venezuelan opposition leader unfairly imprisoned since 2014 as punishment for his human rights work must mark a profound shift in the government’s approach to dissent and freedom of speech, said Amnesty International.

    Rosmit Mantilla, Member of Parliament, human rights activist and prisoner of conscience was released after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention at the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service facilities in Caracas.

    “Rosmit’s long awaited release is great news for human rights in Venezuela. He should have never been made to spend a second behind bars. The Venezuelan authorities must now build on this positive step and release all imprisoned activists and political leaders whose only ‘crime’ was to disagree with the government,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Rosmit Mantilla is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular.

    November 17, 2016

    The release from prison of three women who were subjected to rape and other forms of tortured in 2011 by marines to force them to “confess” to crimes brings a glimmer of hope to hundreds of others who are held behind bars unfairly across Mexico, said Amnesty International.

    Denise Lovato, Korina Urtrera and Wendy Díaz each spent more than five years in prison. They walked out of jail in the State of Morelos this morning after a judged acquitted them and ordered their immediate release.

    “Denise, Korina and Wendy should have never been imprisoned in the first place. Their harrowing stories show the tragic state of human rights in Mexico, where security forces routinely sexually abuse women to secure ‘confessions’ in an attempt to show that they are tackling rampant organized crime,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The stories of Denise, Korina and Wendy are featured in a recent groundbreaking Amnesty International investigation into the use of torture and other sexual violence against women in Mexico. 

    November 17, 2016

    Iran’s authorities have used crude propaganda tactics to dehumanize death penalty victims in the eyes of the public and divert attention away from the deeply flawed trials that led to their death sentences, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Broadcasting injustice, boasting of mass killing highlights how the Iranian authorities embarked on a media campaign following the mass execution of 25 Sunni men accused of involvement in an armed group on 2 August 2016, by flooding state-controlled media outlets with numerous videos featuring forced “confessions” in an attempt to justify the executions.

    November 17, 2016

    In response to Pakistan’s politically motivated decision to expel more than 100 Turkish school teachers, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    “With 24 million Pakistani children out of school, Pakistan’s decision to expel teachers from the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges will only hurt Pakistan’s children.

    “What the country needs is more classrooms and more teachers, not a politically-motivated decision to purge educators at the behest of the Turkish government.”

    Background

    Pakistan has ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers from the PakTurk schools to leave the country by the end of the week.

    The order comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is visiting Pakistan.

    The PakTurk schools deny the Turkish government’s allegation the network is linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, currently in exile in the USA and a former ally of the ruling AK Party.

    November 16, 2016

    In response to today’s announcement by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph Nkaissery that plans to close down Dadaab refugee camp would be delayed by six months, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “While we welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s pledge that repatriations will be carried out in a humane, dignified manner, the announcement is not a change in policy. Thousands of refugees remain at risk of forced repatriation to a war-torn country with and where they are at risk of death or injury in the ongoing conflict.”

    “The Kenyan government must end its dogged determination to repatriate refugees against their will in contravention of international law and instead with donor support, embrace sustainable long-term solutions, including integration of the refugees into local communities. The international community must also share responsibility with Kenya by providing more resettlement places to the most vulnerable refugees.”

    November 16, 2016

    Singapore must immediately halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha, a Nigerian national on death row for possession of drugs, Amnesty International said today.

    On Wednesday, Chijoke Stephen Obioha’s family was informed that his appeal for clemency has been rejected. He is set to be executed on Friday 18 November 2016.

    “The Singapore government still has time to halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha. We are dismayed that clemency has not been granted in his case but remain hopeful that they won’t carry out this cruel and irreversible punishment against a person sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for a crime that should not even be punished by death,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    November 16, 2016

    The Indonesian police should immediately drop the criminal investigation into Jakarta’s governor for alleged blasphemy, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s call came as the Indonesian police named Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Governor of Jakarta better known as ‘Ahok’, as a suspect in a blasphemy complaint filed by some religious groups. Ahok, a Christian, is the first member of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese community to be elected Governor of Jakarta.

    “By carrying out a criminal investigation and naming Ahok as a suspect, the authorities have shown they are more worried about hard-line religious groups than respecting and protecting human rights for all,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Among the police, opinion is divided on whether the case should proceed, showing that the decision to open an investigation against Ahok is a controversial step.”

    November 16, 2016

    President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Russia does not intend to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which it signed in 2000 but never ratified, is a huge blow to international justice, Amnesty International said today.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ICC was not a “truly independent and authoritative judicial body” and had failed to live up to its promises.

    “It is hard not to see this as an attempt by Russia to undermine the progress towards international justice. This decision was apparently made with lightning speed, just hours after the ICC Prosecutor said that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol may amount to an international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    November 15, 2016

    Victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations deserve to have their day in court, Amnesty International said as it urged states to work to strengthen, rather than withdraw from, the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    The call comes on the eve of the 15th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute – the ICC’s founding treaty – taking place from 16 to 24 November in The Hague, Netherlands.

    “Rather than choosing to abandon what is in many cases the only avenue towards justice for millions of vulnerable victims of crimes under international law, states must engage in good faith with the International Criminal Court. They must use their collective power to challenge the double standards, shameful failures and politicization of justice by the UN Security Council,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    November 15, 2016
           Global tech leaders to attend World Internet Conference, Wuzhen, China 16 – 18 November.        Amnesty International’s experts on online censorship and privacy in China and the new Cyber Security Law available for interview from Hong Kong.

    Leaders from the tech industry gathering in Wuzhen, China, this week for the third World Internet Conference, should send a clear message to the Chinese government that they are not prepared to be complicit in the widespread abuse of the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

    The conference comes a week after China’s legislature rubber-stamped a draconian new Cyber Security Law which would require any tech company operating in China to undertake unprecedented levels of censorship and pass on personal information to the authorities with insufficient safeguards to protect freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

    November 14, 2016

    Just two weeks before the deadline given to close the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenyan government officials are deliberately coercing refugees to return to Somalia, where they risk being injured or killed in the ongoing armed conflict, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The government announced in May that it would close the world’s largest refugee camp, which is home to more than 280,000 mostly Somali refugees, citing security, economic and environmental concerns, in addition to lack of support by the international community. Since then, government officials have made statements in the media and visited the camp, threatening people to leave before the closure slated for 30 November 2016.

    “The refugees are caught between a rock and a hard place. Kenyan government officials are telling them they must leave by the end of the month or they will be forced to leave without any assistance,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

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