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    July 07, 2016

    Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him ahead of his trial next week over Twitter posts criticizing the war in Yemen and allegations of torture in Bahrain’s main prison, Amnesty International said today, reiterating its call on the government to end its barefaced assault on freedom of expression.

    The European Parliament also called for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate and unconditional release today in an urgent resolution that expressed grave concern over the ongoing campaign of repression of human rights defenders, political opposition and civil society. Bahrain has witnessed a month of intensified clampdown on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and movement.

    July 07, 2016

    Austrian, Turkish and other telecoms firms facilitate illegal government spying

    Belarus authorities are using phone networks run by some of the world’s biggest telecoms companies to stifle free speech and dissent, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, “It’s enough for people to feel it exists: Civil society, secrecy and surveillance in Belarus”, documents how potentially limitless, round-the-clock, unchecked surveillance has a debilitating effect on NGO activists, making basic work, like arranging a meeting over the phone, a risk.

    “In a country where holding a protest or criticizing the president can get you arrested, even the threat that the authorities are spying on you can make the work of activists next to impossible,” said Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    July 07, 2016

    Chinese authorities must end their ruthless assault against human rights lawyers and activists, Amnesty International said ahead of the first anniversary of the start of an unprecedented crackdown.

    At least 248 human rights lawyers and activists were targeted during the nationwide sweep which began on 9 July 2015. One year on, 18 17 individuals caught up in the onslaught remain detained, eight nine of whom could face life imprisonment after being charged with “subverting state power”.

    “Human rights lawyers have faced the full wrath of China’s secretive machinery of repression. The detained lawyers must be released and this systemic assault against individuals defending the rights of Chinese people must end,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “President Xi Jinping has the gall to claim the Chinese government upholds the rule of law even when lawyers face life in jail for trying to do just that.”

    July 06, 2016

    The Irish authorities’ planned deportation to Jordan of a man deemed a national security threat would place him at real risk of torture and other serious human rights violations, and is a worrying sign of backsliding on the absolute ban on torture, said Amnesty International today.

    The High Court of Dublin cleared the way for Irish authorities to deport a Jordanian man of Palestinian origin (who cannot be identified for legal reasons) in a hearing on 4 July. The man was notified in 2015 that Irish authorities considered him a national security threat on the basis of an allegation that he had been involved in organizing and facilitating travel of people intending to join the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    July 06, 2016

    In response to today’s publication of the Iraq Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot’s much-awaited report on the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

    “In the lead-up to the invasion, Amnesty International urged that the potentially grave consequences of military action be carefully assessed. And on the eve of the US-led invasion we urged full respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

    “Tragically, our fears about the safety of the civilian population were well-founded. Thousands of civilians were killed and injured, including in unlawful attacks; millions of people were forced from their homes; and the whole country was thrown into chaos as the occupation forces failed to fulfil their obligation to maintain security.

    July 06, 2016

    People forced to eat human flesh and to disembowel dead bodies during South Sudan’s civil war that began in 2013 are among thousands suffering from trauma and psychological distress amid a chronic shortage of mental healthcare services in the country, Amnesty International said today as the country marks its fifth anniversary.

    In a new report, “Our hearts have gone dark”: The mental health impact of South Sudan’s conflict, the organisation documents the psychological impact of mass killings, rape, torture, abductions and even a case of forced cannibalism, on the survivors and witnesses of these crimes.

    “While the death and physical destruction caused by the conflict and preceding decades of war are immediately apparent, the psychological scars are less visible and neglected,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    July 05, 2016

    Guinea’s National Assembly vote in favour of a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty is a significant step for human rights in the country, but the code contains provisions which will strengthen the impunity enjoyed by security personnel and repress the expression of dissent, Amnesty International said.

    The new criminal code removes the death sentence from the list of applicable penalties and criminalizes torture for the first time. But some of the most frequently used forms of torture are defined as cruel and inhuman treatment, for which the law carries no explicit penalties.

    “Fifteen years since it last carried out executions, the promulgation of the law will make Guinea the 19th country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, putting itself on the right side of history,” said François Patuel Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    July 05, 2016

    Iraq’s execution of five prisoners is a brazen knee-jerk reaction to the abhorrent weekend Baghdad bombing and a worrying sign that the country is stepping up its use of the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Iraqi Ministry of Justice said that the five prisoners had been put to death on Tuesday as authorities vowed more executions would be carried out following Saturday night’s attack in Baghdad, which killed at least 213 people and injured a further 200, according to media reports.

    “The Baghdad bombing that targeted civilians in a busy shopping area is an unconscionable attack on the basic right to life and a war crime, and there can be no justification for such odious violence,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

    Amnesty International called for those responsible to be brought to justice in fair trials without resorting to the death penalty.

    July 05, 2016

    Amnesty International is launching a new app to document the use of firearms in Rio de Janeiro before the 2016 Olympic Games.

    Cross-fire will allow people living across Rio de Janeiro to report incidents of gun violence, which have been increasing over the last few years.

    “Brazil has one of the highest levels of homicides across the world, with around 42,000 people killed with guns every year. Those living in the most marginalized areas of the city are disproportionally affected by this crisis,” said Atila Roque, Brazil Director at Amnesty International.

    “The application is a tool to give more visibility to the tragic reality thousands of people across Rio de Janeiro have to live with every day and a way to urge the authorities to take some real steps to tackle this crisis.”

    July 04, 2016

    The five year prison sentence handed down to a prominent union leader is the latest example of how the government is galvanising its attack on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in South Korea, Amnesty International said today.

    On Monday, the Central District Court in Seoul convicted Han Sang-gyun, the leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), for his role as an organizer of a number of demonstrations. The most prominent of which was the largely peaceful ‘People’s Rally’ on 14 November 2015.

    “Han Sang-gyun is the latest victim of South Korea’s increasingly ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent. His conviction is both unjust and shameful,” said Arnold Fang, East Asia Researcher of Amnesty International.

    “This sentence has a chilling effect on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly by deterring other would-be organizers. Under no circumstances should organizers be held responsible for the acts of those that hijack a peaceful protest.”

    July 04, 2016

    Bodies dumped in river after enforced disappearance

    (Nairobi, July 4, 2016) - Kenyan authorities must urgently investigate the killing last week of three men, including a human rights lawyer, and ensure that those found responsible are held to account in fair trials, 34 Kenyan and international human rights organizations said today.  Human rights activists will today hold demonstrations in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya today to protest the heinous killings.

    The shocking abduction, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings of lawyer Willie Kimani, as well as his client and their taxi driver that day, whose bodies were recovered from a river 73 kilometres northeast of Nairobi, should be cause for alarm over the state of human rights and rule of law in Kenya, especially in the face of reports suggesting that police officers were involved. 

    July 01, 2016

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Obama administration disclosed its assessment of the number of individuals killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2009. In response, Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:

    “Today’s disclosure is a crucial shift away from the Obama administration’s longstanding policy of concealing information about civilians killed in drone strikes. It is a vital step in dismantling the dangerous precedent of a global, secret killing program.

    “Amnesty International has consistently called on the United States government not only to be more transparent about its data and policy standards, but about it counts as a civilian. Without information on the administration’s definitions and legal standards for these strikes, any meaningful assessment of the numbers will be incomplete. This is not the end of the public conversation on U.S. drone strikes, but just the beginning.   

    July 01, 2016

    A shocking increase of 135% in the number of people killed by police officers in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the run up to the Olympics lays bare the security services’ chilling disregard to the right of life, said Amnesty International today.

    According to the Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP), in the city of Rio de Janeiro alone, 40 people were killed by police officers on duty in the month of May: an increase of 135% compared to 17 during the same period in 2015. Across the State as a whole, the numbers rose from 44 to 84, an increase of 90%.

    "The soaring death count ahead of this major sporting event represents an epic failure on the part of the authorities to protect the most fundamental human right–the right to life,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International's national office in Brazil.

    “It is completely unacceptable that these numbers are increasing despite all the warnings and complaints of Rio inhabitants of the excessive use of force by police. The authorities must act immediately to rein in the worst excesses of the security forces, stem the cycle of violence, and ensure the right to life is assured.”

    June 30, 2016

    Horrifying accounts of sexual violence, killings, torture and religious persecution collected by Amnesty International reveal the shocking range of abuses along the smuggling routes to and through Libya. The organization spoke to at least 90 refugees and migrants at reception centres in Puglia and Sicily, who had made the journey across the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Italy in the past few months, and who were abused by people smugglers, traffickers, organized criminal gangs and armed groups.

    “From being abducted, incarcerated underground for months and sexually abused by members of armed groups, to being beaten, exploited or shot at by people smugglers, traffickers or criminal gangs - refugees and migrants have described in harrowing detail the horrors they were forced to endure in Libya,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “Their experiences paint a terrifying picture of the conditions many of those who come to Europe are so desperate to escape.”

    June 29, 2016

    Saudi Arabia has committed “gross and systematic violations of human rights” abroad and at home, and used its position on the UN Human Rights Council to effectively obstruct justice for possible war crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement today, making a resounding call for the UN General Assembly to suspend the country’s membership of the world’s top human rights body.

    The groups are calling for Saudi Arabia to be stripped of its rights of membership in the Human Rights Council until it ends unlawful attacks by the military coalition it leads in Yemen and these are credibly and impartially investigated.

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