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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.

    September 01, 2020
    Protesters march on Hiawatha Avenue while decrying the killing of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Amnesty International must honestly and openly confront concerns about anti-Black racism within our organization, historically and currently. We are moving towards meaningfully addressing systemic oppression, internally and externally, beginning with acknowledgment of allegations and harms. 

    Activists against anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada have raised troubling questions about the possible role of Luis Kutner — said to have had leadership roles in the early years of Amnesty International and/or Amnesty International USA — in events that led to 21-year-old Black Panther leader Fred Hampton being shot and killed in December 1969 by the FBI and local police in Chicago.  FBI documents, declassified in 2018, reveal information Kutner provided to the FBI prior to the raid that resulted in Fred Hampton’s murder at the hands of police. 

    July 16, 2020

    Kelly is a 24-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras. She fled the country when she was just 12 due to violence against her based on her transgender identity. After arriving in the U.S., immigration authorities detained her in August 2017 and locked her up while she waited for the results of her asylum claim. The campaign for humanitarian parole by Amnesty activists and her many local supporters stretched back many months. Calls for her release ramped up recently when Kelly feared becoming infected by COVID-19 because of the inadequate measures taken by authorities to protect detainees and staff from the virus. Her lawyer credits this campaign for her release; there was no judicial reason for freeing her.

     

    Here is Kelly right after her release from the detention centre in Colorado where supporters had set up a protest camp.  

     

    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 05, 2020
     
    It is time for transformative change to end anti-Black racism in Canada too

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General

    Over these past 10 days, the names, the pain, the images and the violence associated with anti-Black racism in the United States have been absolutely searing. The pain and violence of racism that Black communities across the country have endured for generations.  Many activists and commentators are pointing to a glimmer of hope and possibility that the resulting waves of anger, outrage, courage and protest can and will unleash the fundamental change that is so necessary.

    And it must. Change that is truly transformative. Change that addresses anti-Black racism in all its aspects, not only when it comes to the police but reaches far beyond. Change that dismantles the systems of oppressive white supremacy that are the source of this racism and have been its toxic fuel for centuries. Change that will endure.

    November 13, 2019

    After an inspiring, challenging and eventful week at the Federal Court in Toronto, it is worth taking a moment for some final reflections on the court challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) which took place from November 4-8, 2019. 

    November 08, 2019

    Jaya Bordeleau-Cass and André Capretti are the 2019-2020 Public Interest Articling Fellows at Amnesty International Canada. They will be posting updates about the Safe Third Country Agreement hearing throughout the week.

    The brief and frustrating answer: it’s unclear what it takes. 

    Submissions in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) challenge continued to be delivered from November 4-8th at the Federal Court in Toronto. Earlier this week, counsel for the applicants – representing Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Council of Churches, and other individual litigants – provided a general overview of the requirements for a safe third country designation, why it is unlawful, and why the operation of the agreement violates the security and equality rights of STCA returnees.

    November 06, 2019

    Jaya Bordeleau-Cass and André Capretti are the 2019-2020 Public Interest Articling Fellows at Amnesty International Canada. They will be posting updates about the Safe Third Country Agreement hearing throughout the week.

    Shame. Frustration. Rage. Disappointment.  

    Court hearings can be dry, but when we listen to the facts and stories presented over the past two days in the challenge to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), it is hard not to have an emotional reaction.

    On the second day of the hearings in Toronto, counsel for the applicants – Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and individual refugee claimants – continued to present their legal arguments and reviewed how the STCA violates equality rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter, and the rights to liberty and security of the person under section 7.

    November 05, 2019

    Today marked the first day of a week-long hearing, in which the applicants - Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches, and individual refugee claimants - are challenging the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (the STCA) in Federal Court before Justice Ann Marie McDonald.

    “Year after year, month after month, Canada willfully turns its back on refugee claimants at the border.”

    The applicants’ opening remarks, delivered by Mr. Andrew Brouwer, set the stage for the day’s arguments, which reviewed the facts, the evidence and administrative law issues.

    October 31, 2019

    From October 22th to 26th, Amnesty Canada's Alex Neve joined a global Amnesty delegation to monitor the impact of anti-asylum policies at the US-Mexico border. They met with the consul general of Mexico in San Diego, the National Commission of Human Rights in Tijuana, visited shelters in Tijuana and San Diego, met with NGOs and UN agencies on both sides of the border, and met with legal aid providers and toured a shelter for unaccompanied children in Brownsville, TX. On their last day, the group crossed the border into Matamoros, Mexico to speak with families and others who have been affected by the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.

    Matamoros, Mexico

    “Some days we cry.  Some days we laugh.  And we are here to lift each other up when we are down.”

    September 19, 2019

     

    Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019.

    The awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C., USA, while further events were held in cities around the world, honouring Fridays for Future activists who represent the movement.

    Upon receiving the award, Greta Thunberg said:

    “This award is for all of those millions of people, young people, around the world who together make up the movement called Fridays for Future. All these fearless youth, fighting for their future. A future they should be able to take for granted. But as it looks now, they cannot.

    September 19, 2019

    Responding to news that Google has agreed to pay a record US$170 million to settle a complaint filed by US regulators, alleging that Google illegally harvested personal data of children on its YouTube platform, Joe Westby, Big Data and AI Researcher at Amnesty Tech, said:

    “Today’s record fine exposes the rotten core at the heart of Google’s business model, which relies on the harvesting and monetisation of personal data, in brazen contempt for privacy. A major problem is that online advertising practices are complex and secretive, so people are not able to give meaningful consent as to how their personal data is used. 

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