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    September 28, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities must drop all charges against Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and human rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and at least 23 other defendants, who could face up to four years in prison simply for criticizing the country’s flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.

    A Cairo criminal court is due to hand down its verdict in the case against a total of 25 defendants, on Saturday 30 September. At least 24 of the defendants including Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egyptian politician Amr Hamzawy, and former Member of Parliament Essam Sultan, have been charged with defamation for their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian judiciary as biased and a puppet in the hands of the state.

    “This trial is an attempt to silence criticism of a judiciary that has itself become a source of human rights violations. ‘Insulting’ public institutions or officials is not a criminal offence under international law, and no one should stand trial - let alone face imprisonment - for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    September 28, 2017
    Authorities must not “push-back” Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar Refugees sent back to face certain persecution Thailand should provide refugees formal legal status and protection

    With the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis developing on its doorstep, Thailand must take concrete action to reverse its long-standing failure to offer protection to those most in need, Amnesty International said today as it launched a report revealing gaping holes in the country’s refugee policies.

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place outlines a number of failures by the Thai government in policy and practice that have a devastating impact on refugees both within the country and seeking safety there. These include Thailand’s long-standing practice of using its navy to repel boats carrying thousands of desperate Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis; as well as its forcible return of refugees and asylum-seekers to places where they risk torture and other serious human rights violations.

    September 27, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Ilmi Umerov, a prominent critic of the Russian occupation and leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is the latest encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms on the peninsula, and must be immediately quashed, said Amnesty International. Ilmi Umerov was sentenced by a de facto court in Crimea this morning to two years in a penal colony.

    Last week, the same court handed Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena a two and a half year suspended prison sentence. Both men stood accused of threatening territorial integrity of the Russian Federation on account of their public opposition to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.

    “The sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, who is 60 and has Parkinson’s disease, marks yet another stage in the de facto government’s lengthy persecution of him. His imprisonment follows a series of politically-motivated trials, arbitrary arrests and intimidation against critics of Russian authorities in Crimea. It is a clear violation of freedom of expression,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    September 27, 2017

    Victims of Stadium Crimes Awaiting Trial



    (Conakry, September 27, 2017) – Guinea should move ahead to deliver justice, truth, and reparation for the grave crimes committed on September 28, 2009, at a Conakry stadium, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the September 28 Massacre said today in advance of the massacre’s eighth anniversary. On that day, security forces massacred more than 150 peaceful protesters, and more than 100 women were raped. Hundreds of injuries and widespread looting were also documented.



    An investigation into the crimes by a panel of Guinean investigating judges, opened in February 2010, has yet to be completed – eight years after the crimes were committed.



    “The judges investigating the September 28, 2009 massacre have made impressive progress,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “But the investigation needs to be completed so that those responsible for the stadium massacre can be tried without further delay.”



    September 27, 2017

    The Ugandan authorities must stop threatening to close media outlets simply for doing their job, said Amnesty International today after the country’s media regulator vowed to close down media houses for broadcasting live.

    The threats come the day after a brawl between MPs in Uganda’s parliament was broadcast live by media outlets in the country.

    “It is unacceptable that Uganda’s media regulator is threatening to close down media houses simply for doing their job and broadcasting live news events. Ugandans have a right to know what their elected representatives are doing, a right the authorities must facilitate rather than hinder,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These threats, harassment and intimidation are an attempt to gag the media, and have no place in any society that respects human rights. The media must be left alone to independently inform and educate the public, including on the ongoing debates about the proposed constitutional amendment.”

    September 26, 2017

    Responding to the Saudi Arabian government’s announcement that women will be allowed to drive, Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    “It is a testament to the bravery of women activists who have been campaigning for years that the government of Saudi Arabia has finally relented and decided to permit women to drive.

    “This is a long overdue small step in the right direction and we welcome this move if it means all women in Saudi Arabia will finally be able to drive without any restrictions.

    “If by June next year women in Saudi Arabia are driving the streets without fear of arrest, then this will be a cause for celebration. But it is just one step. We also need to see a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices swept away in Saudi Arabia including the guardianship system where every woman has a male guardian, be it their father, brother, husband or son, having authority to make decisions on her behalf.

    September 26, 2017

    Responding to the news of the arrival of the first refugees into the USA from the Australian-run offshore detention centre on Papua New Guinea, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, Anna Neistat, said:

    “While it is heartening to see refugees who have endured so much uncertainty, pain and misery find safety in the USA, we cannot ignore those still mired in Australia’s cruel offshore detention system. There are hundreds of people, almost all of whom are recognized refugees, who still languish on Nauru and Manus Island. They, too, must be immediately moved to a safe country.

    “Australia cannot shirk responsibility. It is principally responsible for the harm it has inflicted on these people and has a duty to bring them to safety. However, if there are other countries who can step up where Australia is failing, then there may still be hope for the victims of an inherently abusive policy that has denied these people dignity for so long.”

     

     

    September 26, 2017

    The Hong Kong government must drop prosecutions aimed at having a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the city, Amnesty International said ahead of the third anniversary of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

    Three years on from the start of the unprecedented 79-day protest in late 2014, scores of protesters, who were arrested for their involvement in the largely peaceful protests, remain in legal limbo, uncertain if they will face charges.

    “Three years since the Umbrella Movement protests, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over Hong Kong. The government’s stance is having a chilling effect on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    “The government must drop prosecutions which have the effect of deterring people from participating in peaceful protests, particularly on sensitive issues such as Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracy. The authorities’ continued obfuscation has left protesters in legal limbo and is detrimental to human rights in Hong Kong.”

    Chilling effect

    September 26, 2017

    (Kinshasa, September 26, 2017) – Democratic Republic of Congo authorities should immediately and unconditionally release nine Congolese human rights and pro-democracy activists wrongfully detained for their participation in peaceful activities, 45 Congolese and international human rights organizations said today. Four activists were arrested on July 14 and 15, 2017 in Mbuji-Mayi and five others on July 31 in Lubumbashi.



    “The Congolese authorities have thrown activists in jail for joining peaceful protests calling for elections and for Congo’s constitution to be respected,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should release them immediately and ensure that all Congolese have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their political views.”



    September 25, 2017

    The new Ministerial Directions announced today by the Minister of Public Safety to avoid complicity of Canadian law enforcement and intelligence authorities in torture and other mistreatment by foreign entities are a significant improvement on the previous Directives issued in 2011. However, loopholes and lack of clarity in some areas may still leave the door open to complicity in abuses and the tacit promotion of torture at the hands of foreign officials, warns Amnesty International Canada. 

    “The revised Ministerial Directions are a welcome advance on earlier versions which had taken a reckless and unlawful approach to Canada’s international obligation to prohibit and criminalize torture and had been criticized by the UN Committee against Torture.  In particular, it is welcome news that Canada will no longer share with or request information from other states if that gives rise to a substantial risk of torture,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.  

    September 25, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Khalid Ali, a former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer who is widely viewed as President Abdelfattah al-Sisi’s top contender for the 2018 presidential elections, is politically motivated, said Amnesty International.

    Khaled Ali was sentenced to three months in prison which would prevent him from standing in the 2018 presidential elections if the verdict is confirmed on appeal. The court found him guilty of “violating public decency” in relation to a photograph showing him celebrating a court victory after successfully reversing a controversial Egyptian government decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. He was released on a bail of 1000 Egyptian pounds pending appeal.

    “Khaled Ali’s politically motivated conviction today is a clear signal that the Egyptian authorities are intent on eliminating any rival who could stand in the way of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s victory in next year’s elections. It also illustrates the government’s ruthless determination to crush dissent to consolidate its power,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s Head of North Africa Campaigns.

    September 25, 2017

    Responding to the news that at least 42 people were executed in Iraq today on “terrorism” charges, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s mass execution is a shocking display of the Iraqi authorities’ resort to the death penalty to try to show they are responding to security threats.

    “There can be no doubt that individuals who carry out deadly attacks against the civilian population should face justice, but the Iraqi authorities need to recognize that carrying out executions is not the answer and will not make the country or its people safer.

    “The Iraqi authorities have a deplorable track record when it comes to use of the death penalty. In many cases previously people have been put to death after deeply unfair trials and in some cases after being tortured to ‘confess’.

    “The death penalty is an irreversible and reprehensible punishment that should not be used in any circumstances and there is no evidence to show that it deters crime more than any other means of punishment.”

     

    September 25, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a revision of President Trump’s travel ban to now include restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, Naureen Shah, senior campaigns director for Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:

    “Since this ban was implemented 10 months ago, we’ve seen families torn apart and whole nations of people demonized for the crimes of a few. The order was a catastrophe not just for those seeking safety but for those who simply want to travel, work, or study in the United States. Today’s action neither relieves this tension nor keeps anyone safe.

    “Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet another version of government-sanctioned discrimination. It is senseless and cruel to ban whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence that the U.S. government wishes to keep out. This must not be normalized.”

    September 25, 2017

    Research released by Amnesty International today reveals how a shell company in the heart of London’s West End acted as an intermediary in huge prospective arms deals to war-torn South Sudan and other countries, thanks to regulatory gaps which are making the UK a hotspot for companies involved in illicit arms transfers.

    Commercial documents name S-Profit Ltd, a tiny UK-registered company, as the ‘supplier’ in a 2014 deal to provide at least US$46m worth of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to the South Sudanese government. The report, From London to Juba: a UK-registered company’s role in one of the largest arms deals to South Sudan, also reveals that the UK government has been aware of similar practices taking place on British soil for more than eight years, without taking effective regulatory action.

    September 22, 2017

    The BC Utility Commission’s interim report on the Site C megaproject – released on Wednesday – provides further proof that the federal and provincial governments acted irresponsibly when they granted approval for construction of the massively destructive dam.

    “The interim BCUC report confirms what so many of us have been saying all along: there’s simply no credible rationale for the devastating harm that would be caused by the flooding of the Peace River Valley,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations.

    In its interim report, the BCUC said that it did not have enough information yet to offer a conclusion on the costs of continuing construction versus suspending or cancelling the project. However, the report does set out a number of concerns about how BC Hydro is forecasting future energy needs. The interim report also states that if greater capacity is actually needed in the future, alternative sources such as biomass, geothermal and solar need to be considered. The report noted that information provided by BC Hydro reflects an “implicit assumption” that Site C is the only option that would be pursued.

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