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    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.

    June 28, 2016

    An unprecedented Amnesty International investigation of 100 women arrested in Mexico reveals that they are routinely sexually abused by the security forces who want to secure confessions and boost figures in an attempt to show that they are tackling rampant organized crime.

    Read report - Surviving Death: Police and Military Torture of Women Mexico
      Take action - Demand Justice for torture survivor Miriam Lopez

    All of the 100 women held in federal prisons who reported torture or other ill-treatment to Amnesty International said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or psychological abuse during their arrest and interrogation by municipal, state or federal police officers or members of the Army and Navy. Seventy-two said they were sexually abused during their arrest or in the hours that followed. Thirty-three reported being raped.

    June 28, 2016

    Women in prison

    Women make up nearly 7% of the population in federal prisons (Comisión Nacional de Seguridad , 2016)

    The vast majority of women detained in federal prisons are first time offenders, mostly imprisoned for drug-related crimes.

    There is evidence to suggest that torture and other ill-treatment is used frequently against people accused of high-profile crimes that fall within the public security strategy of the so-called “war on drugs.” Of the 100 women interviewed by Amnesty International, 33% had been accused of being part of organized crime groups, 23% had been accused of narcotics crimes, 22% had been accused of kidnapping and 14% with illegal possession of firearms.

    The federal prison population is largely made up by people from low income backgrounds. Data on the federal prison system shows that 60% of women in prison did not complete high school. (CIDE, 2012)

    Of the cases Amnesty International documented for this report, most women earned between 1,000 and 5,000 pesos a month (approximately US$70 to US$300) with some earning much less.

    Torture against women

    June 28, 2016

    Tomorrow’s trial of seven journalists and activists in Morocco for training citizen journalists could set a dangerous precedent for restricting freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    Seven defendants face trial in Rabat after running a citizen journalism training programme using smartphones.

    “The trial of these journalists is a worrying test case for press freedom in Morocco. The accusations that journalists and citizens reporting freely in their country are compromising state security, and the risk that they may be imprisoned, are deeply alarming,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.  

    Five of the defendants, including historian Maati Monjib, are accused of “threatening the internal security of the state” through “propaganda” that may threaten “the loyalty that citizens owe to the State and institutions of the Moroccan people” under Article 206 of the Penal Code, according to official court papers. They could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty.

    June 27, 2016

    The European Union (EU) is set to open a dark chapter in its history unless it rejects the European Commission’s proposal on migration, a coalition of more than 100 NGOs warned on Monday. Shifting towards a foreign policy that serves the single objective of curbing migration, the EU and its member states risk further undermining their credibility and authority in the defence of human rights, the organizations say. They call on European leaders to reject the Commission proposal that would cement this approach, making deterrence and return of people the main objective of the EU’s relationship with third countries.

    June 27, 2016

    Human rights must be a top priority during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, said Amnesty International in an Open Letter to United States President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The letter was shared with the leaders in advance of the June 29th Summit, providing recommendations on the protection of human rights related to migrants and refugees, trade and investment, Indigenous peoples,  women and girls, national and public security, climate change, and human rights defenders. 

    June 25, 2016

    Bangladeshi authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop trumped-up charges against a prominent journalist who could be jailed for more than a decade for a Facebook post, Amnesty International said today.

    Probir Sikder, editor of the daily newspaper Bangla 71, was arrested in August 2015 and has been out on bail since. He is due in court in Dhaka on 26 June, when the charges against him are expected to be formalized.

    “Any charges against Probir Sikder must be dropped immediately and unconditionally. It is a sad state of affairs when a respected journalist could face more than a decade in prison simply for posting on social media,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    June 24, 2016

    ---Media Advisory---

    June 24, 2016 - Ahead of the North American Leaders’ Summit, Amnesty International has called for the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico to adopt a robust human rights agenda in an Open Letter outlining continental human rights recommendations.  At a press conference on June 27th, the heads of Amnesty International Canada, Mexico and United States will call for action on the concerns outlined in the Open Letter, including:

    Migrant and refugee rights, particularly the practice in all three countries of holding migrant and refugee children in detention facilities; and Violence and discrimination against Women and Girls, particularly Indigenous women and girls.  

    Other recommendations deal with the Inter-American human rights system, Trade and Investment, Indigenous peoples, national and public security, climate change and human rights defenders.

    Event:                   Press conference

    June 24, 2016

    The Myanmar authorities must undertake a prompt, independent, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into the violent destruction of buildings in a mosque compound on Thursday in Bago Region in central Myanmar, said Amnesty International.

    “The authorities must take swift action to show that it is treating such incidents against Muslims and other religious minorities seriously. This incident must be immediately and independently investigated and those suspected of involvement must be brought to justice and victims receive effective remedies including reparations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    On 23 June, an unidentified mob partially destroyed a mosque and other buildings in the mosque compound in Thuyethamain village, Bago Region. According to information received by Amnesty International, the attack erupted after a dispute about a building under construction in the mosque compound.

    June 24, 2016

    Responding to the UK’s referendum vote in favour of leaving the EU, Kate Allen Amnesty’s UK Director, said:

    “People will want reassurance that their rights will be safeguarded and the government has a duty to publicly commit to protecting those rights.

    “Whether the UK is a member of the EU or not, it remains beholden to an international human rights system, whose norms it should continue to uphold and whose mechanisms it should continue to respect.

    “Even as it negotiates its exit, the UK government should be looking to preserve the strong rights protections that originated in EU law – particularly in areas such as non-discrimination, the right to privacy and worker’s rights.

    “The Brexit debate was sadly contaminated by unpleasant xenophobic undertones: wherever it is that the UK is now heading, these sentiments and this kind of politics should have no place.

    “The challenge now, is to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us and universal human rights are central to that.”

    ********

    June 23, 2016

    The agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, signed today in Cuba by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is an historic step in efforts towards signing a peace deal between the two sides, Amnesty International said today.

    However, the agreement will only come fully into force after a peace deal is signed, most likely in the next few months. Nevertheless, today’s announcement brings ever closer the prospect of an end to a 50-year-old conflict marked by crimes under international law and serious human rights violations and abuses and by the failure to bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility in such crimes.

    The agreement sets out the mechanisms by which the FARC will demobilize and disarm- to be completed within 180 days after the signing of a peace agreement – as well as the steps the authorities will take to guarantee the security of FARC combatants during their demobilization, including measures to combat paramilitary groups (referred to as criminal gangs by the government), which continue to operate despite their supposed demobilization a decade ago.

    June 22, 2016

    The “iron fist” security response pledged by Jordanian authorities in the wake of Tuesday’s car bombing of a military outpost along the border with Syria must not descend into closing the border and denying humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing armed conflict, Amnesty International said today.

    No group has yet claimed responsibility for the apparently well-coordinated attack, which killed six army border guards and injured several others. 

    More than 70,000 people are stranded in the desert area known as “the berm”, which is a raised barrier of sand marking the Jordanian limit of the Jordan-Syria border near Rukban and Hadalat crossings. A total closure of the border and denial of humanitarian aid to the area would inevitably lead to extreme hardship among those unable to find refuge and put their lives at risk.

    June 22, 2016

    The decision to shut down the independent newspaper, The Post, is a deliberate ploy to silence the media ahead of the election, said Amnesty International today.

    Zambian authorities ordered the closure of the publishing company, Post Newspapers Limited, on 21 June 2016, demanding US$6.1 Million tax in arrears. However, the newspaper is alleging selective application of the law by authorities to target the critical news organization.

    "The closure of The Post newspaper is a disturbing development clearly designed to silence critical media voices. The shutting down of one of Zambia’s main independent newspapers in the run up to an election is an affront to media freedom and the authorities should immediately reverse their decision,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Southern Africa.

    "If the newspaper owes taxes, necessary arrangements should be made to settle the dispute. Shutting down the newspaper threatens the right to freedom of expression."

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