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    February 02, 2017

    In an Open Letter released today, Amnesty International is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to raise critical human rights concerns during his first meeting with United States President Trump. No date has yet been confirmed for the first official meeting, which is expected to take place in the very near future.

    “Our message to Prime Minister Trudeau is clear.  It has already become abundantly clear that under President Trump’s leadership the United States has embarked on a deeply troubling course which undermines and violates universal human rights.  That cannot and will not be okay in the relationship between our governments, and would have direct consequences with respect to areas where cooperation between our countries is essential,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English Branch.

    February 02, 2017

    Responding to comments from the Philippines’ Senate on Amnesty International's latest report, "If you are poor, you are killed”: Extrajudicial executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs”, Champa Patel, the human rights organization's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said:

    "Amnesty International continues to call on the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to re-open its enquiry on extrajudicial executions in the context of the so-called war on drugs.

    "Any steps towards credible investigations, that will see accountability of those involved in the serious crimes documented in our latest report, will be a positive move. In the Philippines, what we found are patterns of human rights violations - deliberate and widespread killings, which appear to be systematic, planned and organized by authorities in the anti-drug campaign. And that these may constitute crimes against humanity. 

    February 01, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ authorization of the construction of 3,000 further illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank today - the fourth such announcement within weeks - highlights their shocking willingness to flout international law, said Amnesty International. 

    In the weeks prior to this the Israeli authorities announced plans to build 3,219 more homes in the occupied West Bank including 719 homes in East Jerusalem. All the announcements have come since the inauguration of US President Donald J. Trump, a staunch ally of Israel’s current government.

    “Since the start of 2017 the Israeli authorities have made clear that they plan to accelerate the construction of illegal settlement homes and seize further Palestinian territory in flagrant violation of international law,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The flurry of recent announcements signals that the Israeli government, emboldened by the Trump administration, feels no need to hide its brazen violations of the rights of the occupied Palestinian population.

    February 01, 2017

    Women and girls risk unsafe abortions that can lead to serious health complications, and even death, due to persistent barriers to legal abortion services, according to research by Amnesty International and the Women’s Health Research Unit of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

    The briefing published today highlights how despite South Africa having one of the world’s most progressive legal frameworks for abortion, many women and girls - especially those in the poorest and most marginalized communities - struggle to access safe abortion services. A key barrier is the failure of the government to regulate the practice of ‘conscientious objection’ through which health professionals can refuse to provide abortion services.

    “No one, regardless of their social status, should be denied their right to make a decision about their pregnancy. This briefing exposes the deep inequalities in the health system that continue to discriminate against impoverished women and girls,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    January 31, 2017

    The Honourable Ralph Goodale

    Minister of Public Safety

    269 Laurier Avenue West

    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8

     

    January 30, 2017

    Dear Minister Goodale,

    We are writing to you about the urgent need for Canada to revise the Ministerial Directives on torture issued by the previous government to conform to the unconditional ban on torture in international law.

    Doing so now would send an important signal to Canadians and to the international community that Canada will under no circumstances use information from a foreign country that was likely obtained under torture, or share information that could likely lead to an individual being tortured.

    As you know, in 2011 the government introduced a ministerial directive that allows, under exceptional circumstances, for information garnered under torture by a foreign country to be transmitted to and used by Canadian security agencies. The same directive also provided guidelines for instances when Canadian agencies could share information with countries that are know to engage in human rights abuses, even if doing so would likely result in torture.

    January 31, 2017

    In a precedent-setting ruling for human rights defenders, British Columbia’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a lawsuit against Tahoe Resources for the violent repression of a peaceful protest in Guatemala in 2013 may advance in Canada. The decision is a victory for seven Guatemalan men who suffered multiple gunshot wounds when they were allegedly shot by company security forces while peacefully protesting outside the entrance to the Escobal silver mine.

    “The ruling sends a clear message that Canadian companies operating abroad can and should be held accountable for allegations of human rights abuses in their operations overseas,” said Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights Campaigner. “For the first time in BC, a parent company will be called to answer for claims that human rights abuses were committed at one of its overseas operations. This is great news for corporate accountability in Canada”.

    January 31, 2017
    Extrajudicial executions may amount to crimes against humanity Police plant evidence, take under-the-table cash and fabricate reports Paid killers on police payroll

    Acting on instructions from the very top of government, the Philippines police have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    Amnesty International’s investigation, “If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs” details how the police have systematically targeted mostly poor and defenceless people across the country while planting “evidence”, recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports.

    January 30, 2017

    In an Open Letter to Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Amnesty International’s Canadian and US Sections, representing close to 2 million people in the two countries, have today called on the Canadian government immediately and urgently to rescind designation of the United States as a “safe third country” for the purposes of refugee determination.

    The designation, pursuant to an agreement reached between the two countries in 2002, took effect in December 2004.  Its effect is to deny access to the Canadian refugee determination system for most refugee claimants who pass through the United States before continuing to Canada.  They are instead required to make their claims for protection in the United States.  The designation of the United States as a “safe third country” had been overturned by a Federal Court judge in 2007, but that was reversed on procedural grounds by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2008.

    January 30, 2017

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s and the police’s announcements that they are suspending anti-drug operations, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said:

    “Even as the police have vowed to shut their operations down, President Duterte has pledged to continue his so-called ‘war on drugs’. These contradictory statements offer little hope that the wave of extrajudicial executions that has claimed more than a thousand lives a month will end.

    “It is no secret that corruption is rife among the police. As our report, out tomorrow, shows, the people who are tasked with upholding law and order have planted ‘evidence’, robbed victims’ homes and falsified reports. But the ultimate responsibility for the police’s actions lies at the very top of government. The problem is not a few bad policemen but the government’s deadly anti-drug policy.”

    Background

    January 30, 2017

    Following last night’s deadly shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Québec City, Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnesty International Canada-Francophone, said: 

    “Amnesty International strongly condemns this act targeting Muslims, demonstrating a total disregard for life and a religion-based hatred.

    “We send our condolences to the families of the victims and the wider community of this mosque. It is crucial that the police investigation be conducted promptly and justice delivered. The Muslim community in the province of Québec needs to be assured that it has access to security, like all citizens.

    “Hate speech and Islamophobia are unacceptable and nurture violence. Let us show together, especially at the highest political level, that solidarity prevails and that respect for the rights of all people to live in security without discrimination is of the utmost importance to us.”

    Background

    January 26, 2017

    A UK High Court ruling that two Niger Delta communities devastated by oil spills cannot have their claims against Shell heard in the UK could rob them of justice and allow UK multinationals to commit abuses overseas with impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    The High Court ruled today that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be held responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. This is despite the company having profited from decades of abuses and environmental destruction in the Niger Delta. The communities are expected to appeal.

    “The Ogale and Bille communities have been hit by multiple Shell spills, threatening their health and drinking water. The UN found groundwater contamination in Ogale was more than 450 times the legal limit – when Amnesty investigators went back four years later, Shell still hadn’t cleaned up the pollution. This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up,” said Joe Westby, Campaigner on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    January 26, 2017

    Nigel Rodley’s outstanding achievement, earning him a place in history, was to be an architect of the process leading to the international treaty which establishes acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as crimes under international law. He was also a kind and modest man who cared intensely about individuals’ human rights and whose commitment, humanity and sincerity inspired the deep respect and lasting affection of his colleagues.

    In his position as Amnesty International’s legal adviser, Nigel developed the long-range plan for Amnesty’s continuing campaign against torture, beginning with its submission to a 1975 UN Congress in Geneva on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, where representatives of more than a hundred states took part. That Congress formulated a Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1975.

    January 23, 2017

    In response to the news today that the Bahraini authorities have postponed the verdict in the case of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Regional office in Beirut said:

    “The Bahraini authorities must stop playing games with Nabeel Rajab’s freedom. He has been arrested and released repeatedly over the past five years and has been banned from leaving the country. By postponing his trial for a sixth time today they are cruelly stringing him along as punishment for his peaceful activism. Their refusal to release him from custody in December despite a court order suggests this is part of a deliberate strategy to harass him.

    “Instead of flouting his rights to freedom of expression and depriving him of his liberty they should end this campaign of harassment, immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all the charges against him.”

    January 23, 2017

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    The next head of the African Union (AU) Commission must place human rights at the centre of the organization’s operations, said Amnesty International as leaders of the 54-member body prepare to elect a new chairperson at a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

    “The incoming chairperson must make the promotion and protection of human rights not just a convenient afterthought, but an essential and sustainable element of the African Union’s conflict prevention strategy.” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    The organization reiterates that ensuring accountability for gross human rights violations should be one of the priorities of the new chairperson of the AU Commission.

    "There has been some progress in the last two years, including the historic conviction of former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity. But more needs to be done,”

    January 23, 2017

    Amnesty International is pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage during 2017, the 150th year of Canadian Confederation.  Significantly, 2017 is also the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The call comes as the organization releases its annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2016 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings, particularly the failure to uphold the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who continue to suffer serious human rights violations in the shadow of Canada's colonial legacy.

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