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    December 05, 2019

    The Slovak Parliament voted on December 5 against a bill that would have undermined women’s privacy and autonomy in decision-making about healthcare. It would also have subjected women to harmful stigma and degrading treatment.

    In a joint letter published on 18 November, more than 30 organizations - including Amnesty International - called on all Slovak MPs to reject the draft law. If passed, it would have required women seeking abortion care to fulfil several mandatory requirements, such as ultrasound scanning, that are not justified by medical reasons. The World Health Organization states that there is no medical reason for routine ultrasound prior to abortion. It emphasizes that women’s decisions to access abortion care should be respected and that safe abortion should be “delivered in a way that respects a woman’s dignity, guarantees her right to privacy and is sensitive to her needs and perspectives.”

    This outcome is a huge victory for women.

    November 23, 2019

    Transgender rights activists were able to hold a march on November 23 in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. Police officers successfully protected the event, known as Trans March, allowing up to one hundred activists to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We believe that the actions taken by Amnesty activists as a result of an Amnesty Urgent Action as well as advocacy by Amnesty Ukraine contributed significantly towards ensuring the protection of the 2019 Trans March. Organizers of the Trans March have thanked activists for their support.

    The successful protection of the Trans March comes in striking contrast to a similar event in 2018, when police failed to protect participants, did not take action against members of violent groups who attacked the march, and instead forced transgender rights activists into a nearby metro station effectively terminating their peaceful assembly.

    October 24, 2019

    On October 24, 2019, we received wonderful news from Poland in the case of 14 brave human rights defenders who stood up to fascism with their banner “Fascism stop!” during the Independence Day march in 2017. A Polish court declared that the women, who had been charged with “interference with a lawful assembly”, were not guilty.

    During the annual Independence Day march in Warsaw in 2017, when many far-right protestors gathered calling for things like a “white Poland”, the 14 women refused to let it go unchallenged. They headed to the Poniatowski Bridge to peacefully confront the hatred.

    What they encountered there was deeply disturbing. Hundreds of people brandishing racist and fascist symbols, messages saying things like “Europe will be white or deserted”, and members of far-right groups and their sympathizers holding flares and throwing firecrackers. Undeterred by the aggression in the air, the women unfurled their own banner saying “Fascism stop!”.

    October 16, 2019

    On October 16, 2019, Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé, and her doctor were released from prison following a Royal Pardon granted by the king of Morocco. They had been arrested on August 31 in the capital, Rabat. On September 30, Hajar and her fiancé were sentenced to one year in prison (and the doctor to two years) after being convicted for unlawful abortion and sex outside of marriage. This was likely a politically motivated attack on Hajar for her journalistic work at newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum. It was a blatant violation of the rights to freedom of expression and private life.

    Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action appeal on Hajar’s case. Amnesty activists wrote to the head of Morocco’s government calling for freedom for Hajar, her fiancé, and the doctor. Hajar’s case garnered the support of several human rights organizations in Morocco and abroad. The response of the international community to Amnesty’s Urgent Action helped release Hajar, and sparked a conversation around women’s rights and freedom of expression in Morocco.

    October 11, 2019

    Amnesty International is welcoming news that Maryam Mombeini has finally reunited with her two sons in Canada, more than 18 months after Iranian authorities separated the family at Tehran’s airport.

    In a heartfelt video posted to Twitter, Maryam is seen embracing her sons, Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami, at the Vancouver International Airport on October 10. It had been 582 days since they had last seen each other.

    “We are grateful to the Canadian government, and specifically Foreign Minister Freeland for their unwavering support from day one. We are also thankful to Iran for allowing our mother, Maryam Mombeini, to finally leave and join us in Vancouver,” said Ramin in a statement sent to media and shared with Amnesty International.

    “We have been overwhelmed with an amazing outpour of love and support from everyone. And we cannot be happier to have such an amazing network of friends and family, who’ve stood by our side through thick and thin.

    October 09, 2019

    We're delighted that Aung Ko Htwe walked free on 6 September 2019 after completing the two years of his sentence. Thank you to the over 30,000 of you who took action and emailed the Myanmar authorities. We know building international pressure on cases like these makes a real impact.

    What happened?

    In October 2005 Aung Ko Htwe was kidnapped by the Myanmar military at the main railway station in Yangon – the country’s largest city – and forced to serve in the army. He was only 13 years old at the time.

    In 2017 he spoke out about what he experienced in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia, shortly after which he was arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal code – a vague law which severely restricts freedom of expression.

    He was sentenced to the maximum two years in jail.

    October 03, 2019

    On October 3, after months of global campaigning on his behalf, Jorge Gonzalez Nieva was allowed to continue pre-trial detention in his own home in Argentina. This improves his detention conditions considerably, but Amnesty International will continue to campaign for a final ruling on his case. Jorge expressed how solidarity letters have had an enormous positive impact on his mental health, and how grateful he feels to Amnesty and each and every person who has written to him so far.

    Jorge has been illegally held in pre-trial detention for 12 years. Argentina’s law sets a temporary limit for pre-trial detention at two years. There is strong evidence that Jorge is innocent. The police officers who arrested him were later convicted of organizing a cover-up, giving false testimony and attempted extortion.

    September 30, 2019

    Ahmed H, his wife and two daughters had found safety in Cyprus after escaping war-ravaged Syria. But he worried about his elderly parents and six other family members who were still inside Syria’s border. In August 2015, he left his young family at home in Cyprus and traveled to Turkey, intending to help the rest of his family escape from Syria too. They made their way to the Hungarian border only to find themselves stranded along with hundreds of refugees after President Orban closed the crossing from Serbia.

    Tensions rose and clashes broke out. Hungary’s police responded with tear gas and water cannon, injuring dozens. Some threw stones, including Ahmed, but news footage also clearly shows him using a megaphone to call on both sides to remain calm. Of eleven people arrested, he was the only one charged under the counter-terrorism law. 

    September 27, 2019

    Twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the Escazú Agreement in a major victory for the environment and human rights that should inspire the rest of the region to follow suit, said Amnesty International.

    Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, and Uruguay all signed the treaty at the first opportunity today as the UN General Assembly started in New York, while the Dominican Republic and Haiti have also committed to signing in the coming hours.

    “The leadership of the dozen countries who signed the Escazú Agreement today should serve as inspiration for the rest of the region and beyond,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “We urge all other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to promptly follow their example for the survival and wellbeing of current and future generations.” 

    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. 

    September 19, 2019

    Film director Oleg Sentsov, who was released on the 7th of September as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, has thanked activists from Amnesty International for writing letters of support during his time in the remand centre and the penal colony.  Sentsov, who was arrested in 2014 and whose release was achieved through the many efforts of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, gave a press conference alongside Alexander Kolchenko in Kiev.

    “Of course, I received many letters from Amnesty International. Thank you very much”, said Sentsov. According to him, the activists from Amnesty have contributed greatly to the international campaign for his release.

    September 19, 2019

    In reaction to the public statement by Under Secretary for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas announcing Mexico's intention to promptly accept the competence of the Committee against Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider cases of disappeared persons in Mexico, Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International's Americas Director, stated:

    "The Mexican government's announcement is an important sign of its willingness to achieve justice, truth, and reparation in cases of enforced disappearance in the country. This issue, which for years has cast a shadow over human rights in Mexico, requires all available efforts and resources to find a solution. Amnesty International looks forward to the prompt implementation of this decision and will continue to monitor the situation of disappeared persons in the country, aware that it will only change with a strong commitment from all authorities."

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    August 21, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency. Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

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