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    November 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 November 2016


    The European Union’s pressure on Italy to “get tough” on refugees and migrants has led to unlawful expulsions and ill-treatment which in some cases may amount to torture, a new report from Amnesty International revealed today.

    Beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation are among the numerous allegations of abuse documented in Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights. The report demonstrates how the EU-sponsored ‘hotspot approach’ for processing refugees and migrants at the point of arrival is not only undermining their right to claim asylum but has fuelled appalling abuse.

    “In their determination to reduce the onward movement of refugees and migrants to other member states, EU leaders have driven the Italian authorities to the limits – and beyond – of what is legal,” said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Italy. 

    November 02, 2016

    Militia fighters from the Sab’awi tribe have unlawfully detained, publicly humiliated and tortured or otherwise ill-treated men and boys in villages south-east of Mosul that were recaptured from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in recent days, said Amnesty International.

    The organization’s researchers on the ground in Iraq interviewed local officials and eyewitnesses including villagers who described how members of the Sab’awi Tribal Mobilization militia (Hashd al-‘Ashairi) carried out punitive revenge attacks. Residents suspected of having ties to IS were beaten with metal rods and given electric shocks. Some were tied to the bonnets of vehicles and paraded through the streets or placed in cages.

    “There is strong evidence that Sab’awi tribal militia members have committed crimes under international law by torturing and otherwise ill-treating residents in Qati’ al Sab’awiin in revenge for crimes committed by IS,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    November 02, 2016

    Staff at Amnesty International’s Moscow Office arrived at work this morning to find their office unexpectedly sealed with a notice from municipal authorities warning people not to enter. In response to this development, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, said:

    “We do not know what prompted Moscow authorities to prevent our staff from accessing our offices – an unwelcome surprise for which we received no prior warning.

    “Given the current climate for civil society work in Russia, there are clearly any number of plausible explanations, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions. We are working to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible and very much hope there is a simple administrative explanation for this setback to our work.

    “We are 100% confident that we fulfilled all our obligations as tenants.”

    November 01, 2016

    Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ildar Dadin, a peaceful street protester convicted for participation in “unauthorized” assemblies, and investigate his allegations of torture, Amnesty International said today. Ildar Dadin’s letter from prison was published by Meduza online newspaper on Tuesday.

    “Ildar Dadin’s allegations of beatings, humiliation and rape threats are shocking, but unfortunately they are just the latest in a string of credible reports indicating that torture and other ill treatment are being widely used in the Russian penal system with impunity, with the aim of silencing any form of dissent,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    “We are urging Russian authorities to end the pattern of impunity for torture and other ill treatment and investigate Ildar Dadin’s appalling allegations. They must also immediately and unconditionally release Ildar Dadin, and provide him with full remedy for the injustice done to him. No one should be in jail for peacefully expressing their opinion.”

    October 31, 2016

    As tensions escalate at the site of a disputed pipeline close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the response of law enforcement to protests by Indigenous communities.

    AIUSA also has sent a letter to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department expressing concern about the degree of force used against the protests. The organization will also call on the Department of Justice to investigate police practices.

    Arrests of protesters, who call themselves water protectors, have increased in recent weeks and law enforcement has employed a more militarized response to protests and encampments near the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The local Indigenous communities say the pipeline endangers their water supply and desecrates sacred land. This week, arrests have occurred at a camp that was recently established on federally-recognized private land near the construction site.

    October 31, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of opposition activists, lift restrictions on their movement and take all appropriate measures to ensure that people are allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s calls come as Pakistan’s authorities have intensified their crackdown on supporters of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, including by using unnecessary and excessive force. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters and detained hundreds in indiscriminate and arbitrary mass arrests.

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that hundreds of people have been arrested under Section 144 of the Penal Code, a draconian colonial-era law that forbids the gathering of more than four people, and represents an undue restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    October 31, 2016

    In response to this morning’s detention of 11 journalists and staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper and the shutting down of 15 media outlets over the weekend, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen, said:

    “Today’s detention of journalists and staff from Turkey’s only remaining mainstream opposition newspaper is part of an ongoing systematic attempt to silence all critical voices. Together with the shutting down of media houses over the weekend, this is the latest wave in a post-coup purge which has turned Turkey’s once vibrant media landscape into a wasteland.”

    “The blatant misuse of emergency powers to shut down media houses must stop and more than 130 journalists currently in pre-trial detention must be immediately released.” 

    October 31, 2016

    The fierce offensive on western Aleppo city launched by armed opposition groups on 28 October has been marked by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas that cannot be justified as a way to break the relentless siege that has sparked a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo, Amnesty International said.

    Up to 48 people including 17 children have been killed in civilian areas of government-controlled western Aleppo since the offensive began, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. 

    “The goal of breaking the siege on eastern Aleppo does not give armed opposition groups a license to flout the rules of international humanitarian law by bombarding civilian neighbourhoods in government-held areas without distinction,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 28, 2016

    Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must stop targeting opposition members by curtailing their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said ahead of Sunday’s referendum on constitutional changes.

    On 20 October, at least 50 opposition members were arbitrarily arrested at a peaceful protest and detained for hours in moving police vehicles. Some of them were dropped in several places in the main city Abidjan, others around 100 km away from their homes and forced to walk back in a practice known as “mobile detention”.

    “This form of inhumane treatment is at odds with international and regional human rights law and standards. Whether people campaign ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the referendum, everyone, including opposition members, has the right to peacefully express their opinion and to have their dignity respected at all times. Members of the security forces responsible for this must be identified and held to account,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.   

    October 28, 2016

    The South Korean government must withdraw proposed rules that would increase the penalty for doctors who perform illegal abortions, said Amnesty International, ahead of mass demonstrations planned by women’s rights groups on 29 October.

    On 23 September, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a revision of a rule on “inappropriate medical practices” that could increase the penalty for doctors performing illegal abortions from the current one-month suspension of business to a possible maximum of 12 months.

    “This proposal, if enacted, would only perpetuate the existing criminalization of abortion in South Korea and is an obvious regression in the fight for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights. Decisions about their bodies and health should be made by the women and girls’ themselves, in consultation with their doctors, and not by politicians or officials,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    October 28, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for an prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the conduct of Myanmar’s security forces in the restive Rakhine state for human rights violations committed during ongoing security operations in the region.

    The organization has received numerous reports that Myanmar’s security forces operating in the state – home to most of the country’s oppressed Rohingya minority – are alleged to be involved in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, destroying people’s homes and crimes involving sexual violence amongst other violations. Ongoing restrictions on access to northern Rakhine State has made it extremely difficult to independently verify such claims.

    October 28, 2016

    Greece has illegally returned at least eight Syrian refugees to Turkey without respecting procedural guarantees or considering their asylum claims, documentation and testimonies obtained by Amnesty International reveal.

    The Syrians, including four children under the age of five, were rescued in Greek waters when their boat travelling from Turkey to Italy encountered problems and they were taken to the island of Milos on 9 October. All eight registered their intention to claim asylum, but were returned to Turkey on 20 October. The refugees say they were falsely told that they were being transferred to Athens. Instead they were flown under escort of officers from the EU border agency (Frontex) to Adana, Turkey in a violation of international and EU law.

    “The Greek authorities and the EU have repeatedly insisted that all Syrian refugees arriving in the country are having their asylum claims properly assessed, but the evidence we have now seen clearly strongly suggests otherwise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    October 27, 2016

    Military operations to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are endangering civilians who are being caught in the crossfire or in some cases being used as human shields by IS fighters, said Amnesty International from northern Iraq.

    The organization’s research team met with civilians displaced from their homes in villages north of Mosul in recent days who are now in Zelikan and Khazer camps, in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and conducted phone interviews with people still trapped under IS control, gathering fresh evidence pointing to civilian deaths and injuries during in recent days.

    “With more than a million people believed to be still trapped in Mosul and its outskirts, the risks to civilians are sky high. IS’s utter disregard for the safety of civilians and their apparently deliberate use of human shields is putting people trapped in areas of active conflict at even greater risk, as Iraqi forces advance,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional Office.

    October 26, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed to Giyas Ibrahimov, a 22-year-old youth activist detained after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shocking assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Giyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute travesty of justice. He was arrested simply for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The authorities now want him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on these fabricated charges,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It is deeply disturbing to see the lengths to which Azerbaijani authorities will go to silence their critics. We are calling on them to quash this sentence based on trumped-up charges and immediately release Giyas Ibrahimov, and to carry out an independent investigation into the torture and other ill-treatment he has been subjected to.”

    October 26, 2016

    Following the announcement yesterday by the Gambian Information Minister that Gambia has withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC), Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa said:

    “The announcement is a blow to millions of victims around the world, particularly coming as it does on the heels of recent moves by South Africa and Burundi to also withdraw from the ICC”. 

    “Rather than joining this drastic march away from justice, other African states should follow the lead of Botswana and many concerned African member states which have encouraged countries to work constructively with the Court to resolve any legitimate issues.”

    “The Information Minister’s statement regarding the Court’s persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans could not be further from the truth. For many Africans the ICC presents the only avenue for justice for the crimes they have suffered”.


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