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    August 06, 2016

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to today’s release of the Presidential Policy Guidance—a document setting out U.S. standards that appears to apply to some drone and other air strikes overseas— Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:

    “While this policy guidance appears to set an important precedent for protecting civilians and limiting killings, it is impossible to assess whether and how it’s been followed. The Obama Administration has still never provided basic information needed to assess the drone program, including the names and identities of people killed in the strikes.

    “The Obama administration’s disclosures are welcome but they only tell part of the story, and obscure disturbing practices. We still know extremely little about the standards that would govern signature strikes and so-called rescuer strikes, which have involved potentially unlawful killings.

    August 05, 2016

    Thailand’s referendum on a draft constitution takes place this Sunday against a backdrop of pervasive human rights violations that have created a chilling climate, Amnesty International said today.

    In the context of the referendum, the authorities have arbitrarily arrested scores of people, have cancelled or disrupted peaceful assemblies and took off the air a television station in recent weeks, marking just the most recent undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

    “If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “What we are seeing are not temporary measures that create peace and order as the authorities have argued, but a constant criminalisation of peaceful dissent designed to silence views that the authorities do not like. Immediate and long overdue steps must be taken to lift restrictions and guarantee rights.”

    August 04, 2016

    The Chinese authorities must end their relentless suppression of human rights lawyers and activists, Amnesty International said today, after a prominent lawyer became the latest to be convicted after an unfair trial.

    On Thursday, Zhou Shifeng was sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of “subverting state power”, following a trial that lasted less than a day at Tianjin No.2 People’s Court in north east China.

    On Wednesday this week, democracy activist Hu Shigen was sentenced to seven-and-a half-years for “subverting state power”, and on Tuesday activist Zhai Yanmin was given a three-year prison sentence, suspended for four years, after being convicted of the same charge.

    “This wave of trials against lawyers and activists are a political charade. Their fate was sealed before they stepped into the courtroom and there was no chance that they would ever receive a fair trial,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    August 04, 2016

    Open Letter from Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada to Tony Loparco, Director of the Special Investigations Unit and Charles Bordeleau, Chief of Ottawa Police Service, regarding the case of Abdirahman Abdi.

     

    August 2, 2016

    Dear Mr. Loparco and Chief Bordeleau,

    Amnesty International is writing this Open Letter to you regarding the case of Abdirahman Abdi.  Mr. Abdi is a 37 year-old Somali-Canadian man who died on July 24th following an altercation and alleged beating at the hands of two Ottawa Police officers.  It has been widely reported that Mr. Abdi was well known to suffer from serious mental health problems.

    We recognize that the case is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit and the Ottawa Police Service’s Professional Standards Section.  It is vital that those investigations be thorough, transparent and impartial.

    August 03, 2016

    World leaders have wasted a critical opportunity to tackle the global refugee crisis, said Amnesty International today after talks for a new UN refugee deal ended falling far short of expectations.

    Late last night, the United Nations (UN) member states meeting in New York finalized a watered-down outcome document for adoption at a UN Summit meant to tackle the refugee crisis on 19 September. The Global Compact on Refugees proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is not included and will now not be agreed before 2018.

    “Faced with the worst refugee crisis in 70 years, world leaders have failed to the bear the weight of responsibility,” said Charlotte Phillips, advisor on Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “The Refugee Summit was a historic opportunity to find a desperately-needed global solution to the refugee crisis. Instead, world leaders delayed any chance of a deal until 2018, procrastinating over crucial decisions even as refugees drown at sea and languish in camps with no hope for the future.

    August 02, 2016

    A teenager was executed in Iran after being convicted of the rape of another boy, the first confirmed execution of a juvenile in the country this year. Amnesty International, which has been carrying out extensive research into the situation of juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, found that Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak’s Prison in Markazi Province on 18 July, after being convicted of “lavat-e be onf” (forced male to male anal intercourse) in early 2015. The execution went ahead even though the Office of the Head of the Judiciary had promised his family that they would review the case on 15 September 2016.

    August 02, 2016

    Investigation on remote Pacific island finds deliberate abuse hidden behind wall of secrecy

    (Sydney, 3 August, 2016)—About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat.

    Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. They endure unnecessary delays and at times denial of medical care, even for life-threatening conditions. Many have dire mental health problems and suffer overwhelming despair—self-harm and suicide attempts are frequent. All face prolonged uncertainty about their future.

    August 02, 2016

    Responding to a speech today by Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which he criticized Amnesty International’s findings that some people detained in connection with Turkey’s failed coup attempt had been beaten and tortured, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “From day one, Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned the appalling violence committed by those behind the 15 July failed coup attempt. The organization has called for the Turkish government to bring the coup plotters to justice.

    “At the same time Amnesty International has urged Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and the rights of all those detained. The government must release all detainees unless there is a reasonable suspicion that they have committed a recognisable criminal offence.

    “The serious human rights violations documented by an Amnesty International team on the ground in Turkey are alarming. These findings are based on detailed interviews with lawyers, doctors, family members and an eyewitness to torture in a detention facility.

    August 02, 2016

    A shocking 103% percent increase in police killings in Rio de Janeiro between April and June of 2016 and 2015 has shattered any chance of a positive legacy to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, said Amnesty International three days before the opening ceremony.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 49 people in June 2016, 40 in May and 35 in April – more than one every single day.

    Since 2009, when Rio won the bid to host the Olympic Games, police have killed more than 2,600 people in the city.

    August 01, 2016
    The National Security Council Act that comes into force today empowers the Malaysian authorities to trample over human rights and act with impunity, Amnesty International said today. “With this new law, the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive powers,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. The new law will grant the Malaysian authorities the power to carry out warrantless arrests, search and seize property, and impose curfews at will. One provision, Section 18, allows the Prime Minister to arbitrarily designate any area in the country a “security area,” if he deems it a potential source of “harm.” “There is good reason to fear that the Act will be yet another tool in the hands of the government to crack down on peaceful protests under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict. The special status given to “security areas” could worsen Malaysia’s track record of custodial deaths and police brutality.
    August 01, 2016

    Authorities in Mauritania must drop all charges and immediately and unconditionally release 13 anti-slavery activists arbitrarily detained in an attempt to intimidate and silence human rights defenders, Amnesty International and 16 other civil society organisations said today. 

    The activists will appear before a court on 3 August in the capital Nouakchott accused of rebellion, use of violence, attack against public authority, armed assembly and membership of an unrecognised organization. If convicted, they face a fine and a jail term of up to two years.

    “These activists are prisoners of conscience who have been falsely accused and are behind bars in order to impede their legitimate work. They have been targeted persistently for their views and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Kiné Fatim Diop Amnesty International West Africa Campaigner.  

    “The long-time persecution has no legal justification. The authorities must end their rule of fear and repression on anti-slavery activists.”

    July 29, 2016

    An aerial attack which struck and partially destroyed a maternity hospital in rural Idlib province, north-western Syria, this afternoon appears to be part of a despicable pattern of unlawful attacks deliberately targeting medical facilities, Amnesty International said.

    The number of casualties in today’s attack is not yet clear, but a spokesperson from Save the Children, which supports the hospital, told media there were at least two fatalities. It is unclear who carried out the attack, but it was in an area under the control of armed groups where Syrian and Russian armed forces had been launching airstrikes.

    July 29, 2016

    The decision to grant reparation to thousands of victims in the case against former Chadian president Hissène Habré marks a significant moment in their long and determined quest for justice, Amnesty International said today. 

    “Today’s decision is a significant step in enabling the victims of crimes in the case against Hissène Habré to move on with their lives,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International Senior Legal Advisor Africa.  

    “It is also a victory for the victims of human rights violations all over the world as it demonstrates the urgent need for reparation even when decades have passed since the crimes were committed.”

    The Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar today granted the civil party victims of rape and sexual violence in the case 20 million FCFA each (33,880 USD), the civil party victims of arbitrary detention, torture, prisoners of war and survivors in the case 15 million FCFA each (25,410 USD) and the indirect victims 10 million FCFA each (16,935 USD). The EAC rejected the civil parties’ request for collective reparations.

    July 28, 2016

    A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labour, said Amnesty International.

    “Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to findings ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years. Authorities in Venezuela must focus on requesting and  getting much needed humanitarian aid to the millions in need across the country and develop a workable long term plan to tackle the crisis.”

    July 28, 2016

    Following the announcement that charges will be dropped against the three remaining officers to face trial in the death of Freddie Gray, Amnesty International USA called for the strengthening of laws governing lethal force by police in Maryland and across the country.

    “In Maryland and every state in the nation, statutes regarding when law enforcement officers can use lethal force fall woefully short of international standards,” said Rachel Ward, managing director of the research unit of Amnesty International USA. “These standards state, simply, that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when faced with the imminent threat of death or serious injury. As it stands, lethal force laws are so broad that accountability will continue to be elusive.”

    “Until widespread reform of lethal force laws happen, families will not be able to have faith that anyone will be held accountable for their loved ones’ deaths.”

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