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    October 13, 2017
    More than 500 people detained in towns including Bamenda and Buea Wounded protestors flee hospitals for fear of arrest Arrested protestors forced to pay 60 USD bribe to be released

    At least 500 people remain detained in overcrowded detention facilities following mass arbitrary arrests in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, and many wounded protestors fled hospitals to avoid arrest, Amnesty International said today.

    Those detained were arrested following protests in dozens of towns in North-West and South-West Cameroon on 1 October, in which more than 20 people were unlawfully shot dead by security forces.

    “This mass arrest of protestors, most of whom were acting peacefully, is not only a violation of human rights, but is also likely to be counter-productive,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher.

    “The Cameroonian authorities should release anyone detained only for exercising their right to peaceful protest.”

    October 12, 2017
    Stars of stage and screen have added their voices to the global demand for the immediate and unconditional release of a group of prominent human rights defenders in Turkey, one hundred days after they were detained.   More than 20 artists and celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, Whoopi Goldberg and Zach Galifianakis, signed a letter sent by Amnesty International USA to the Turkish ambassador. They join a host of other celebrities including Annie Lennox, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Juliette Binoche, Jane Birkin, Angélique Kidjo, and Patrick Stewart, who have called for the release of the activists that include Amnesty International’s Turkey Director, İdil Eser, and Chair, Taner Kiliç.   Ten activists were arrested on 5 July whilst Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. On 4 October a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd and trumped up terrorism charges.  
    October 11, 2017

    The United Nations must take firm action in response to credible new evidence that UN peacekeepers drugged and raped a young woman in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today after interviewing the victim and 10 others with direct knowledge of the case.

    The organization’s on-the-ground research revealed that one or more Mauritanian peacekeepers allegedly raped a 19-year-old woman in the central town of Bambari on the evening of 30 September 2017.

    “We have uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that at least one Mauritanian peacekeeper, and possibly more, raped a young woman,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. “The public authorities in the town of Bambari have confirmed the rape, and the UN is investigating it.

    “If substantiated, these serious rape allegations should result in the repatriation, suspension, and prosecution of any troops suspected of criminal responsibility. The UN must also ensure the victim receives support and damages. Its peacekeepers are in CAR to protect civilians from violence, rather than perpetrate it.”

    October 11, 2017

    Singapore’s continued reliance on mandatory death sentences, which violate international law, has meant that dozens of low level drug offenders have been sent to death row in recent years, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Cooperate or Die also reveals how death penalty reforms introduced in 2013, while reducing the number of people sentenced to death, do not go nearly far enough and in particular have left life and death decisions in the hands of the public prosecutor instead of judges.

    “Singapore likes to paint itself as a prosperous and progressive role model, but its use of the death penalty shows flagrant disregard for human life. The country relies on harsh laws that overwhelmingly target drug offenders on the lower rungs of the ladder, many of whom will come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser.

    “The reforms introduced in 2013 were a step in the right direction and have allowed some people to escape the gallows, but in key respects they have been flawed from the outset.

    October 11, 2017

    As the mass trial of Boko Haram suspects on terrorism-related charges continues in Nigeria, Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said:

    “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members. However, the fact the trials are taking place behind closed doors, with no access for the media or the public, raises huge concerns. Public hearings are crucial for protecting an individual’s right to a fair trial and due process.”

    “The Nigerian authorities must ensure that all fair trail rights are respected. Defendants must have access to lawyers and interpreters if required, and that witnesses and victims are protected from potential reprisals.”

    Amnesty International has repeatedly documented how thousands of people have been rounded up in mass arbitrary arrests with little or no evidence and held in detention for years.

    “In instances where no prima facie case has been established, as is reportedly the situation in some of the cases, detainees should be immediately released.”

     

    October 10, 2017

    States that retain and use the death penalty are increasingly isolated and should take steps to join the global trend, Amnesty International said today on the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    2017 marks 40 years since Amnesty International fostered the landmark Declaration of Stockholm, the first international abolitionist manifesto on the death penalty. Issued in 1977, the Declaration called on all governments to totally abolish the punishment:

    “When the state uses its power to end the life of a human being, it is likely that no other right is inviolate. The state cannot give life, it should not presume to take it away.”

    At the time of the declaration, only 16 countries — eight in the Americas and eight in Europe — had fully abolished the death penalty in law and practice. That number now stands at 105. A further 36 countries have either repealed the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder or effectively stopped using the punishment though it remains in their laws.

    October 10, 2017

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you on behalf of the 400,000 supporters of Amnesty International across Canada to share a number of urgent recommendations about pressing human rights concerns that we hope you will raise during the meetings you will have with Presidents Trump and Peña Nieto during your visits to Washington and Mexico City next week.  We lay out bilateral, trilateral and global concerns and recommendations in the attached Annex.  We urge you to recognize that human rights considerations must figure prominently in your meetings with both Presidents and that concrete human rights commitments and action are central to the various issues you will be discussing.  We urge you to:

    October 10, 2017

    The passing of a new law reforming the legal recognition of gender identity, is an historical step forward for transgender people in Greece, said Amnesty International.

    The new law adopted today expressly states that transgender people can change their papers without the requirement of medical interventions or tests.

    “Today’s reform is a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality for transgender people for years. It sends out a clear message that no one should be forced to go through medical procedures in order to be officially recognized for who they are,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    “Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won. The Greek government must make further changes in law to ensure that transgender people in Greece can be legally recognised as who they are without having to give up other rights.”

    Background:

    October 10, 2017

    Amnesty International has unveiled the first ever, monumental ‘Aubusson’ tapestry designed by Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero at Bogota’s international airport.

    The twenty square metre tapestry, ‘The Musicians’, woven over the past several months by artisan weavers at Ateliers Pinton, in France, was commissioned by Art for Amnesty on behalf of Amnesty International to promote the human rights of millions across Colombia.

    “I’m very honoured that Amnesty International selected me for this present to Colombia. This tapestry will show all visitors to Colombia how important art and culture are here,” said Fernando Botero.

    “Colombia is going through one of the most hopeful and challenging moments in its recent history. After the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia nearly a year ago, all eyes are on the authorities to ensure justice prevails for the millions of victims of the country’s five decade long war,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 10, 2017

    ‘The new criminal proceedings against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe are as baseless as the original ones’ - Kerry Moscogiuri

    Responding to news from Richard Ratcliffe that his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - a British-Iranian charity worker who has been unjustly jailed in Iran for the past year-and-a-half - may be facing additional criminal charges and a further prison sentence, Amnesty International UK’s Campaigns Director, Kerry Moscogiuri, said:

    “Coming against a backdrop of last year’s blatantly unfair trial and sentence, this is very depressing news and a really worrying development.

    “The new criminal proceedings against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe are as baseless as the original ones, and once again criminalise this charity worker’s peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association through her work with Reuters and the BBC.

    “The Iranian authorities have a track record of bringing fresh criminal charges against prisoners of conscience who they wish to keep in jail.

    October 09, 2017
    Reacting to the news that a boat has capsized in the Naf river separating Bangladesh and Myanmar today, killing at least 12 people including children, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   “Today’s drowning and tragic loss of life is yet more evidence of the desperate situation still prevailing in Rakhine state. While the Myanmar military has engaged in a campaign of violence, there is mounting evidence that Rohingya women, men and children are now also fleeing the very real threat of starvation.   “The Myanmar authorities are actively blocking aid groups from reaching affected areas in northern Rakhine State, where people are on the brink of survival. These restrictions show a callous disregard for human life and must end immediately.”

    +++++++++

    Media contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    October 09, 2017
    ·         Taner Kiliç added to indictment of Istanbul 10 ·         Charges against the 10 increased to include “membership of a terrorist organisation”   Responding to news that a prosecutor has filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 16 years on terror charges for 11 human rights activists including İdil Eser and Taner Kiliç, the director and chair of Amnesty International Turkey, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director said: “This outrageous indictment contains no new evidence but instead repeats absurd allegations against some of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders. “These brave activists have languished in jail for months on end for no reason other than their belief in human rights. For them to have spent even day behind bars is a gross injustice.
    October 06, 2017

    The Cambodian authorities’ attempts to shut down the main opposition party ahead of next year’s general election is the latest move in a relentless effort to crush all forms of dissent, however peaceful, Amnesty International said today.

    The Interior Ministry today filed a complaint with the Supreme Court asking for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to be dissolved ahead of the elections scheduled for July 2018.

    “Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government seem intent on turning Cambodia into a criticism-free state by any means necessary. The attempts to disband the opposition party ahead of next year’s crucial vote is a blatant power grab and another escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on all forms of dissent,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The international community cannot stand idly by and simply watch as the human rights situation backslides rapidly in Cambodia. Key countries must immediately push the Cambodian government to end the sweeping restrictions on opposition figures’ and human rights defenders’ rights to liberty and to freedom of expression.”

    October 06, 2017

    The international community has caved in to political pressure again, underplaying the suffering of hundreds of Yemeni children, by watering down criticism of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s grave violations of international law in the UN Secretary General’s annual Children and armed conflict report (CAAC), said Amnesty International.

    “Every time the United Nations makes concessions that allow perpetrators of crimes under international law to evade criticism or justice, it emboldens others to commit violations that cause immense misery to people around the world,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of UN office in New York for Amnesty International.

    “While we welcome the overdue listing of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the CAAC report, it is a shame that the UN caved in to pressure and included it in a new category specifically designed to limit condemnation of the coalition.”

    As a result of diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia, the report - which covers the year 2016 - contains a new category that acknowledges the efforts of the coalition to “put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children”.

    October 05, 2017

    Joint Submission to UN by HR Groups Says Treatment of Children and Persons with Mental Health Conditions Violates International Obligations

    Toronto, October 5, 2017 — A United Nations review of Canada’s human rights record should urge Canada to make concrete commitments to meaningfully address its treatment of vulnerable persons in immigration detention, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law (IHRP) said today.

    The IHRP, in conjunction with international and national human rights organizations — including Amnesty International, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Justice for Children and Youth — delivered a joint submission to the UN today stating that immigration detainees, particularly children and non-citizens with mental health conditions, continue to suffer significant human rights violations.

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