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    September 23, 2020

    By Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International's media manager for Europe, Turkey and the Balkans

    The first day of Julian Assange's extradition hearing, which started on Monday 7 September, drew more than two hundred people to gather outside the Old Bailey in London. People in fancy dress mingled with camera crews, journalists and a pack of hungry photographers who would disappear regularly to give chase to any white security van heading towards the court, pressing their long lenses against the darkened windows.

    Arriving at the court each morning was an assault to the senses with the noise of samba bands, sound systems and chanting crowds and the sight of banners, balloons and billboards at every turn. One of the vans had come from Belmarsh high security prison, Julian Assange's home for the last 16 months.

    September 17, 2020

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the organization’s lack of access to the Julian Assange extradition hearing, which began on 7 September at the Old Bailey in London, undermines the recognition of trial observers as guardians of international fair trial standards. The organization lodged three separate applications to request access to the premises of the Court for the hearing. All applications were rejected, signaling a retreat on the part of the UK authorities from the principle of open justice.

     Amnesty International has called on the US government to drop all charges against Julian Assange for his publishing activities and on the UK authorities not to send Assange to the USA or any country where he would be at risk of serious human rights violations. As part of its research, advocacy and campaigning work on the Assange case, Amnesty is committed to monitoring the UK extradition hearing by engaging expert international trial monitors to observe and document the proceedings.

    September 08, 2020

    By Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in Europe

    The last time I saw Julian Assange he looked tired and wan.

    Dressed neatly in casual business attire, the Wikileaks founder was sitting in a glass-enclosed dock, at the back of a courtroom adjoining Belmarsh high security prison in London, flanked by two prison officers.

    I had travelled from the US to observe the hearing. He had travelled via tunnel from his cell to the courtroom. 

    Today, Julian Assange will be in court again, for the resumption of proceedings that will ultimately decide on the Trump administration’s request for his extradition to the US.

    But it is not just Julian Assange that will be in the dock. Beside him will sit the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to access to information. Silence this one man, and the US and its accomplices will gag others, spreading fear of persecution and prosecution over a global media community already under assault in the US and in many other countries worldwide.

    September 07, 2020

    Julian Assange is currently being held at Belmarsh, a high security prison in the UK, on the basis of a US extradition request on charges that stem directly from the publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks. He faces up to 175 years if convicted. Initial hearings on the case were held last February with Amnesty's Julia Hall there as an observer.

    On March 25, 2020, Julian Assange's lawyers applied for bail, reiterating health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bail was denied. Decreasing the prison population and the number of people in detention centres is a crucial means of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people safe. If Julian Assange has an underlying condition that puts him at risk, he should be immediately released on bail, as should any detainees and prisoners at such risk who does not pose a risk to society.

    July 06, 2020

    As Israel steps up construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), in brazen defiance of international law, Amnesty International is calling on TripAdvisor to urgently remove its listings in settlements and send a clear message that it will no longer contribute to human rights violations.

    On June 25, Amnesty International submitted a petition to TripAdvisor’s CEO Stephen Kaufer, signed by more than 300,000 people from around the world, calling on the company to pull out of illegal settlements. The company has not responded to Amnesty International’s requests for comment.

    “Israeli settlements violate international law and amount to war crimes. Companies which operate in the settlements are contributing to human rights violations and tacitly supporting Israel’s policy of forcing Palestinians out of their homes and crushing their basic rights,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    June 22, 2020

    By Dominic Twomey, Campaigner, Amnesty's Business and Human Rights Team (International Secretariat)

    On Tuesday 23 June, the UK Supreme Court will hear an appeal into the case “Okpabi and others (Appellants) v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another (Respondents).”  The communities represent over 40,000 Nigerians from the Niger Delta and argue that they have been badly affected by oil spills from oil pipelines owned and operated by Shell.  The devastating effect on the ecology of the Niger Delta and its citizens has been well documented and in 2011, a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report recommended an urgent clean-up, but to date, no clean-up has taken place.

    April 10, 2018

    This is part 5 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    Confronting Shell Oil … Again!

    Three years after the ground-breaking report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on oil pollution in Ogoniland, the people of Ogoniland continued to suffer the effects of fifty years of an oil industry that has polluted their land, air and water. The oil company Shell and the Nigerian Government both failed to implement recommendations made in the UNEP report and put an end to the abuse of the communities’ rights to food, water and a life free of pollution.

    The 2011 UNEP Report made 27 recommendations, including the establishment of a $1 billion fund for the clean-up and compensation. In August 2014, Amnesty issued a report titled “No Progress”, with Amnesty's assessment that NONE of the recommendations had been completed. The Government of Nigeria and Shell had taken almost no meaningful action to implement any of the recommendations.

    April 04, 2018

    This is part 4 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    United Nations Confirms Massive Pollution

    In 2011-2012, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) confirmed the massive scale of pollution in its landmark report based on a scientific assessment of one region, Ogoniland. The report particularly highlighted how pollution has created a public health emergency in the Niger Delta as a result of high levels of contamination of people’s sources of water.

    According to UNEP, oil seeped below the surface layers of soil and contaminated the groundwater in Ogoniland. The report also referred to increased concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons in the air and drinking water, which could lead to long-term health issues.

    April 03, 2018

    We all want to be good, responsible people, don't we? But sometimes doing the right thing in our daily lives is made next-to-impossible by forces well beyond us. At these times, we need to work together, creatively, to do what's right. 

    Amnesty International's palm oil campaign gives you a chance to help fix a serious problem hidden in your breakfast cereal and possibly in the toothpaste you used this morning. Palm oil and palm oil ingredients are now in half of all consumer products, yet the harvesting of this product is leading to the exploitation of children, and human rights abuses of women and workers. 

    We have a plan to stop these abuses, and it starts with your signature.

    March 14, 2018

    This is part 1 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    On November 10, 1995, Amnesty International released this statement: “AI has learned with dismay that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni supporters were executed on 10 November 1995.”

    The world was shocked. The trial was widely criticized by human rights organizations and the governments of other states The Commonwealth of Nations, which had pleaded for clemency, suspended Nigeria's membership. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU all implemented sanctions—but not on petroleum.

    What was the role of Shell oil in this? And how has the situation evolved since then? This six-part blog series explores the human rights impact of oil pollution in the Niger Delta, the mounting evidence against Shell, the courageous activism of affected communities,  and the on-going fight for justice.

    August 28, 2017

    By Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research, Amnesty International 

    Winter is coming. 

    Even if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, you know the iconic, sinister saying. In the TV show, it is muttered meaningfully as a warning not only that after a long summer a harsh winter is ahead, but that winter brings with it an existential threat to the world—an army of the dead. This threat makes all the vicious scheming, treachery and feuding look insignificant and petty. 

    As a human rights defender watching leaders around the world scapegoating and dividing to score political points, I can’t help thinking that winter may be coming for all of us—a dark future where protection of human rights won’t mean much anymore. 

    The “summer” was long and fruitful. Seventy years ago the world came together in 1948 and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated for the first time that human rights must be protected across “all peoples and all nations.”  

    March 30, 2017

    By Amnesty tech expert Joe Westby. Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeWestby

    Anyone who hoped that the debate about encryption had already been put to bed, sadly, was wrong. Today, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd will meet with technology companies including Facebook and Google to discuss encrypted messaging services, with a view to “persuading” the companies to gain access to encrypted communications.

    Earlier this week, in the wake of the Westminster terrorist attack, Rudd became the latest state official to blame encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp for ostensibly facilitating terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, yesterday the EU promised to put forward tough new rules on encrypted messaging in June.  We. have. been. here. before.

    July 10, 2015

    Anmesty's letter warns surveillance will have ‘chilling effect’ on human rights organizations.

    The UK should hold an independent judge-led inquiry into surveillance of human rights organizations by UK security services, Amnesty International said today in a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron.

    The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which oversees surveillance matters in the UK, informed Amnesty International last week that the UK has been intercepting, accessing and storing its communications, but is yet to provide an explanation as to why.

    "The Prime Minister needs to explain why the UK government is subjecting law-abiding human rights organizations to surveillance. This revelation makes it vividly clear that mass surveillance has gone too far. We must finally have proper checks and balances," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary-General.

    July 03, 2015

    By Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. Follow Sherif on Twitter @sherifea

    Just after 4pm yesterday, Amnesty International received an email from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which hears cases related to UK intelligence agencies. The message was brief but it dropped a bombshell.

    It said there had been a mistake in the tribunal’s judgment 10 days earlier in a case brought by 10 human rights organizations against the UK’s mass surveillance programmes. Contrary to the original ruling, our communications at Amnesty International had, in fact, been under illegal surveillance by GCHQ, the UK’s signals intelligence agency. Incredibly, the initial judgment had named the wrong organization – the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – and it took 10 days to correct the astonishing mix-up.

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