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    December 09, 2016

    Press Conference: Amnesty International issues 2016 Human Rights “Report Card” for Trudeau government

    On December 13, Amnesty International Canada will issue a human rights “report card” for the Trudeau government’s first full calendar year in power at a press conference in Ottawa.

    The end-of-year assessment measures Canada’s progress against the organization’s Human Rights Agenda for Canada, which Amnesty presented to the government in December 2015 in order to help guide its efforts toward the protection of human rights domestically and abroad.

    In its assessment, Amnesty outlines several areas where Canada has achieved significant human rights successes in 2016. It also addresses several areas of notable concern where the Trudeau government has failed to make adequate progress on human rights, or has made decisions which have taken Canada in the wrong direction with troubling human rights implications.  

    Speaking at the press conference will be:

    December 09, 2016

    Authorities in Cameroon must investigate the use of excessive and unnecessary force that led to the deaths of between two and four people during a protest in the north western city of Bamenda yesterday, Amnesty International said today.

    Eye witnesses recounted that security forces fired live rounds and teargas in reaction to people throwing stones, describing how they saw the bodies of two men who had been shot dead. Media reports quoting police sources have reported that at least four people were killed.

    Security forces were also seen launching teargas into an area apparently unrelated to the protests, as well as firing live ammunition in the air.

    “Authorities in Cameroon must shed light on the circumstances of these killings and injuries by immediately conducting thorough, impartial and effective investigations. Those reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for these deaths must be brought to justice,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher.

    December 08, 2016

    The Sri Lankan authorities must take decisive action to stop torture and other ill-treatment, investigate complaints, and hold perpetrators accountable, Amnesty International said today following the publication of the concluding observations by the UN Committee against Torture on Sri Lanka.

    “If the Sri Lankan authorities are serious about breaking with the harrowing legacy of the country’s decades-long conflict, it must end impunity for torture and other acts of ill-treatment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Sri Lanka has taken important and positive steps. However, we also share the UN Committee against Torture’s alarm over Sri Lanka’s failure to prevent these crimes by the security forces and their concern that torture and other ill-treatment continue to take place. Impunity persists for perpetrators, as well as for those who have committed enforced disappearances, and deaths in custody and the use of coerced confessions continue to be reported.”

    Lingering shadow of the conflict

    December 08, 2016

    Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release photojournalist Mohammed Abu Zeid, popularly known as Shawkan, who has spent more than three years in detention and whose court hearing takes place on Saturday 10 December, Amnesty International said today. The authorities must also drop all charges against him.

    “Mohammed Abu Zeid was simply doing his job when he was arrested, taking photographs of the violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adaweya Square in Cairo in 2013 that led to horrific mass killings. His detention by the Egyptian authorities is clearly politically motivated and he should not be held for another day – taking pictures is not a crime,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    December 08, 2016

    For the first time, Amnesty International’s flagship global human rights campaign is taking aim at a human rights case in Canada. On December 10th, activists around the world will call for a stop to the Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern British Columbia – one in ten cases around the world featured for concerted action in this year’s annual Write for Rights campaign.

    “The fact that a human rights case in Canada has been selected for this campaign alongside top-priority cases in countries including Egypt, Iran, the United States and China is significant,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “It speaks to the seriousness of the human rights concerns related to construction of the Site C dam and also to the level of international scrutiny which the Trudeau government will bear if it fails to change course on this issue.”

    December 08, 2016

    The arrest of award-winning Sudanese human rights activist Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is further proof of the government’s intolerance of independent voices, said Amnesty International after his employer confirmed today that state agents arrested him in Khartoum on 7 December.

    He was arrested by National Intelligence Security Service agents at the University of Khartoum, where he works as an engineering professor, and taken to an undisclosed location, where he is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    He has not been informed of the reasons for his arrest or charged with any offence.

    “Mudawi’s arbitrary arrest underscores the government’s desperate attempts to extinguish the last embers of dissent in the country. This wanton repression and disregard for human rights must come to an end,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    December 07, 2016

    The arrest today of Azza Soliman, the founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, an NGO which works to prevent violence against women, is a clear sign that Egyptian authorities are intensifying the crackdown on human rights activists, said Amnesty International.

    Police officers arrived at Azza Soliman’s home this morning, presented an arrest warrant and took her to Masr el Gedida police station on the outskirts of Cairo, before taking her to an investigative judge’s office in New Cairo for questioning. 

    “Azza Soliman’s arrest is the latest chilling example of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution of independent human rights defenders. We believe she has been arrested for her legitimate human rights work and must be released immediately and unconditionally. The intimidation and harassment of human rights activists has to stop,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    December 06, 2016

    The condemning of 15 people to death by the Specialized Criminal Court today after a grossly unfair trial is a travesty of justice and a serious violation of human rights, said Amnesty International. 

    The men were among 32 people arrested across Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014 who were accused of spying for Iran. Fifteen others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years and two were acquitted.

    The men were charged with a series of offences including “high treason” with some facing several other ludicrous charges which should not be considered criminal offences such as “supporting protests”, “spreading the Shi’a faith” and “possessing banned books and videos”. 

    “Sentencing 15 people to death after a farcical trial which flouted basic fair trial standards is a slap in the face for justice. Time and again, Saudi Arabia’s justice system has been proven to be incapable of ensuring fairness and justice,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    December 06, 2016
    First anniversary of round-the-clock curfew in UNESCO world heritage site Forced displacement may amount to collective punishment

    Tens of thousands of residents of the UNESCO world heritage site of Sur are among an estimated half a million people forced out of their homes as a result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year which may amount to collective punishment, said Amnesty International in a new report.

    December 04, 2016

    Released 21:01 GMT 4 December 2016

    Under the military’s dominance, the Pacific island nation of Fiji has seen an ingrained culture of torture take root among its security forces, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    Famed for white-sand beaches and sweeping views of turquoise water, Fiji is known as a holiday destination. But over a decade since the 2006 coup, the military remains in control of key institutions, including the police, with a militarization of the justice system that allows torture and other ill-treatment to go unpunished.

    The new Amnesty International report, Beating Justice: How Fiji’s Security Forces Get Away with Torture details how uniformed officials on Fiji’s islands have inflicted severe beatings, rape and other sexual violence, attacks by police dogs, shootings and other forms of torture and ill-treatment or punishment in violation international law.

    December 04, 2016

    Following reports that the Army Corps of Engineers will halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:

    “This is an important victory for Indigenous people who fought to protect the water and their rights,” said Eric Ferrero with Amnesty International USA. “While we celebrate this hard-fought victory, we also call on Congress to ensure that Indigenous communities are always consulted in decisions like this. 

    “It is critical that Indigenous communities be full participants in any decision that may affect their human rights, and the government must seek their free, prior and informed consent before any major infrastructure project moves forward. That was not what happened with the Dakota Access Pipeline, and we are heartened by the government’s announcement today.”

    December 02, 2016

    In response to announcement that President Yahya Jammeh has accepted his defeat following the presidential election, Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s Researcher for West and Central Africa currently in Gambia said:

    “For many years the people of Gambia have suffered numerous abuses, including horrific human rights violations and oppression.”

    "The last two weeks have shown how much Gambians of all parties value free speech. There is a huge obligation now for the future administration to transform the human rights situation in Gambia, freeing political prisoners, removing repressive laws and entrenching newly found freedoms."

    Background

    Today the President of the Electoral Commission announced that opposition candidate Adama Barrow (Coalition 2016) has won yesterday’s election by more than 50,000 votes. President Yahya Jammeh (APRC – Alliance for Patriotic Reconstruction and Construction), has accepted his defeat. 

    December 02, 2016

    Responding to the news that the President of Myanmar has established a commission to investigate violence in Rakhine state since the 9 October attacks on three border police posts, Amnesty International said:

    “An investigation into human rights violations in northern Rakhine state is long overdue. However, it will only be effective if it is independent, impartial and applies international human right law and standards,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Our findings point to serious human rights violations and a policy of collective punishment against the Rohingya Muslim population in northern Rakhine State. The authorities have gone beyond any reasonable response to the 9 October border police post attacks to target individuals, whole families and whole villages. It is difficult to imagine how a commission chaired by a former army general – and staffed with the Police Chief – can impartially investigate these allegations against the security forces.

    December 01, 2016

    The UN Security Council has failed Syrians. In almost six years of conflict, close to half a million people have been killed and eleven million have been forced to leave their homes. Most recently, the Syrian and Russian governments and their allies have carried out unlawful attacks on eastern Aleppo with scant regard for some 250,000 civilians trapped there. Armed opposition groups have also fired mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo, though according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by Government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” Efforts to stop these atrocities and hold those responsible to account have been blocked repeatedly by Russia, which continues to misuse its veto power in the Security Council.

    December 01, 2016

    In response to the news that access to Doha News, Qatar’s leading independent English language daily news site has been blocked to internet users inside the country, James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Global Issues said:

    “This is an alarming setback for freedom of expression in the country. Deliberately blocking people in Qatar from accessing a legitimate news website would be an outright attack on media freedom.

     “As the nation that founded the Al Jazeera media network and which hosts a centre dedicated to promoting global media freedom, Qatar should be at the forefront of those championing freedom of the press.

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