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    September 06, 2016

    President Francois Hollande of France must confront Vietnamese authorities over their treatment of one women’s fight for justice when he visits the country this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International calls on the French president to raise in particular the case of Ngô Thanh Kiều, a young man who died in police custody in Phú Yên province in 2012. Since his death, his sister Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family have undertaken a brave crusade for justice in the face of physical attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation.

    Recently, the family found the carcass of a shaved cat flung at their home. It bore a chilling note warning Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family to stop raising her brother’s case or suffer a similar fate.

    “Human rights must not be sacrificed to trade and security deals. President Hollande must use his visit to call on the Vietnamese authorities to meet their human rights obligations under international law,” said Camille Blanc, Chair of Amnesty International France.

    September 05, 2016
    The detention of Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Russian blogger from Yekaterinburg (Urals region) who was sentenced to administrative arrest for two months after posting a video of himself   playing Pokémon Go in a church is a farcical attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.   “The absurdity of the case of the Russian blogger jailed for playing Pokémon Go in a church highlights what happens when authorities hold the freedom of expression in such low regard. Even if Sokolovsky’s behaviour may have been regarded as disrespectful by some, states should not be jailing people simply for offending religious sensibilities,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   Ruslan Sokolovsky was arrested under charges of “preventing the realisation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and incitement of hatred” on 3 September.   Background
    September 05, 2016

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are setting out today to travel by bus across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.

    The Justice for the Peace caravan is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

    September 03, 2016
    The Bangladeshi authorities must immediately release a 22-year-old student activist detained for two Facebook posts criticising the country’s Prime Minister, Amnesty International said today.   Dilip Roy, a student activist at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh, will be appearing at a bail hearing on 4 September.   “Bangladesh’s authorities should immediately drop this case. By invoking draconian laws to hound critics for Facebook posts, they are not just cracking down on peaceful dissent but courting embarrassment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for South Asia.   Dilip Roy could face up to 14 years in prison after a student body linked to the government filed a case against him under the country’s Information and Communications Technology Act (ICT) for allegedly making “derogatory remarks” about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid and her ruling Awami League.   Since his arrest on 28 August, Dilip Roy has been detained and was denied bail by the Rajashahi Magistrate Court this week.
    September 03, 2016
    Reacting to the execution on Saturday of Mir Quasem Ali - a key financier of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was found guilty by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal in a flawed trial – Amnesty International said:   “The execution of Mir Quasem Ali, following a trial whose fairness was questioned by the UN, will not deliver justice to the people of Bangladesh. There is no question that the people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence, but the death penalty is a human rights violation and will not achieve this. It is a cruel and irreversible punishment that most of the world’s countries have now rid themselves of,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations

    613-744-7667, ext 236

    email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    September 02, 2016

    With widespread reports of the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s repressive regime is unlikely to change, said Amnesty International.

    “Islam Karimov’s death marks the end of an era in Uzbekistan, but almost certainly not of the pattern of grave human rights abuses. His successor is likely to come from Karimov’s closest circle, where dissenting minds have never been tolerated,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “During his 27-year long rule, rights and freedoms were profoundly disregarded, with any dissent brutally crushed, and torture and arbitrary detentions became integral to the country’s justice system. Hundreds died in the Andizhan massacre alone, and the perpetrators were never held to account. Many thousands have ended up in prisons following unfair trials. Any semblance of justice in the country will require deep political changes and a new, principled approach from Uzbekistan’s international partners, something which has been totally lacking in recent years.”

     

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    September 01, 2016

    "Security forces in Gabon must refrain from using excessive force against protesters in the wake of the country’s disputed election result," said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, amid reports that several anti-government demonstrators had been shot and injured on Wednesday afternoon.

    "Such a brutal response violates protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as inflaming an already tense situation following the vote.

    “The authorities must instead do everything in their power to allow for peaceful protest, in order to bring much-needed stability and security after the election period.”

    “They must also independently, impartially and efficiently investigate any excessive use of force by security forces, and bring those responsible to justice.

    Background

    The election result announced on Wednesday gave incumbent Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba 49.8 per cent of the vote against 48.23 per cent for his rival, Jean Ping.

    August 31, 2016

    Released Thursday 1 September 2016, 10:00 Tegucigalpa (16:00 GMT)

    An insidious wave of threats, bogus charges, smear campaigns, attacks and killings of environmental and land activists in recent months has made Honduras and Guatemala the most dangerous countries on earth for those protecting natural resources, Amnesty International said in a new report six months after the brutal murder of Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

    We defend the land with our blood explores the increasing stigmatization, threats, attacks, killings and lack of justice faced by individuals and communities fighting to protect the environment from large-scale mining, logging and hydroelectrical projects.  

    “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    August 31, 2016

    Major reforms must be undertaken by the authorities in the Australian state of Queensland to protect the rights of Indigenous children from a youth justice system that criminalizes them out of all proportion to the general population, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    The report Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detention, strong in culture and community will be launched at Parliament House, Brisbane today.

    “While the Queensland authorities have recognized the need for reform, much more needs to be done. In particular, a shift to supporting Indigenous-led initiatives could make a significant difference to prevent another generation of Indigenous children from being lost behind bars,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 30, 2016

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the rapid deterioration in the health of Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who has been detained in Iran since June 6. Amnesty International reiterates that it considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience, detained with no legal basis, and calls on Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

     “The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Dr. Homa Hoodfar, whose continued detention in the notorious Evin prison is not only illegal, but is now also seriously affecting her health and placing her in grave danger.” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    August 30, 2016

    As the International Day of the Disappeared is marked around the world, the Laos authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the abduction and suspected enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, Amnesty International said today.

    On 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone, a leading member of Lao civil society, was stopped by traffic police and taken away in a pick-up truck. His whereabouts remain unknown, his family has not been kept informed by the authorities, and there has been no credible investigation into his enforced disappearance.

    “Next week, Barack Obama will become the first US President to visit Laos. He must seize this rare opportunity to raise concerns about the human rights situation in the notoriously closed country, including by asking the authorities, ‘Where is Sombath?’” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s International Advocacy Director.

    Barack Obama and leaders from across South East Asia will be meeting in Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), to attend the ASEAN summit from 6-8 September 2016.

    August 30, 2016

    The Kenyan government must set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate and bring to justice all those suspected of criminal responsibility for extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances, said 13 Kenyan and global human rights organizations today as they marked the International Day of the Disappeared.

    Kenyan and global human rights organizations have documented more than 300 cases of individuals who have gone missing while in the hands of security agencies since 2009, some of whom have later been found killed.

    “Enforced disappearances have become a widespread practice, and a dark stain on the fabric of law enforcement in Kenya that can only be sustainably addressed by bringing to account those suspected of responsibility through fair trials,” said Peter Kiama, Executive Director of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU).

    “But fair trials cannot take place without prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the myriad cases of disappearances and executions.”

    August 30, 2016

    The Bangladesh authorities must halt the imminent execution of a senior political leader who has been sentenced to death following a deeply flawed trial, Amnesty International said today.

    “The people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence. The continued use of the death penalty will not achieve this. It only serves to inflame domestic tensions and further divide a society riven by violence,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    The Bangladesh Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali, a key financier of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, after rejecting his review appeal. It follows an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) judgement – a Bangladeshi court examining war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence – that found Mir Quasem Ali guilty of committing crimes against humanity in November 2014.

    August 30, 2016

    The release of four Congolese pro-democracy activists, including Amnesty International Prisoners of Conscience Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, is cause for celebration but they remain at risk of re-arrest unless the charges are dropped, warned Amnesty International today.

    “The release of Fred, Yves and others is a rare positive step in what has been a very difficult year for freedom of expression in the DRC. The charges against them were politically motivated and must be dropped to ensure that their ordeal is over once and for all,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes.

    Until their release, Fred and Yves were awaiting a trial that could have seen them face the death penalty. The pair were arrested along with 26 other activists in March 2015 and charged with various offences including “plotting a conspiracy against the head of state”.

    The two were released along with Christopher Ngoyi. Jean Marie Kalonji was also released and walked out of jail on 27 August. They were all being held at Kinshasa’s Makala Prison.

    August 29, 2016

    The Israeli authorities must ensure that the trial of a detained humanitarian worker employed by the charity World Vision is fair and open, said Amnesty International on the eve of his trial, amid reports that the proceedings are due to take place in secret.

    Mohammed al-Halabi, the manager of Gaza operations for the child-focused global development NGO, is facing 12 charges including being a member of a “terrorist organization” and siphoning off the charity’s funds for “terrorism” purposes.  He was initially denied access to a lawyer and, when she was eventually allowed to meet him, he alleged he had been seriously mistreated in custody.

    The lawyer is prevented from disclosing the details of that allegation, as well as many other elements of the case, by a set of severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on reporting around the case. 

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