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    September 28, 2018

    Amnesty International considers the 15 to be human rights defenders

    ‘We’re concerned the authorities may be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case’ - Kate Allen

    Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

    The protesters - known as the “Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

    Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. The organisation has written to the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General calling for this disproportionate charge to be dropped.

    The trial is currently expected to last for approximately six weeks.

    July 04, 2018

    Amnesty International will be debating proposals to tackle the devastating human rights consequences of misguided attempts by countries to criminalise and restrict abortion and to punish people for using drugs.

    Delegates from around the world will be gathering in Warsaw, Poland, over July 6-8 to hold crucial votes on the organisation’s positions on safe and legal abortion and how States control the production, sale and use of drugs.

    “We want to make sure we are well placed to fight for the human rights of millions of people whose lives are impacted by how governments criminalise or restrict access to abortion and by the prohibition of drugs. Both issues require a much more compassionate approach from governments to protect the rights of the people who are most at risk,” said Tawanda Mutasah, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Law and Policy.  

    Access to abortion

    June 27, 2018

    Responding to the news that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has voted to pass the UK’s resolution to create a mechanism to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks, Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research, said:

    “Amnesty International welcomes the decision allowing the OPCW to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks as a crucial step towards bringing perpetrators of war crimes to account.

    “Today’s decision signals to victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and elsewhere that the international community has not abandoned them, and to perpetrators that they will be brought to justice.

    “It is absolutely vital that the OPCW’s findings and evidence can now be used in international, or national, investigations and prosecutions.”

    Background

    The OPCW member states today voted, by an 82 to 24 margin, in favour of a UK-led proposal to grant new powers to an OPCW mechanism to attribute responsibility for attacks with banned toxic munitions.

     

    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.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    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.”  

    May 23, 2017

    Responding to the terror attack at the Manchester Arena last night, Kerry Moscogiuri, Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International UK said:

    “Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms this cowardly act that has taken the lives of so many innocent people.

    “The thoughts of everyone at Amnesty are with all those affected by this horrific attack on children, young people and parents enjoying a night out at a concert.

    “The response to this kind of attack must always be more love, just like we've seen from the people of Manchester coming together to offer lifts, tea and places to stay to concert-goers and those looking for their loved ones.

    “Politicians and the media must ensure their language and actions do not stoke hatred and division, and use all their influence to stress that we have more in common than that which divides us.”

    April 04, 2017

    Some of the world’s largest companies are selling food and cosmetics containing palm oil that is tainted by shocking human rights abuses, including forced and child labour. Corporate giants, such as Nestlé , Kellogg’s, Colgate, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are turning a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in their palm oil supply chain. These companies reassure their customers that they are using “sustainable” palm oil, yet Amnesty’s research reveals that the palm oil is anything but.

    These companies buy palm oil from plantations run by Wilmar in Indonesia. Amnesty has discovered severe labour abuses at Wilmar’s plantations, including unsafe working conditions, discrimination against women, unrealistic targets and penalties, and children doing hazardous work.

    Write a lettter:

    Contact the makers of Dove soap, KitKat chocolate bars, Knorr soup, Pantene shampoo, Gerber baby cereal, Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish soap and Magnum and Parlour ice cream and demand that they take responsibility for human rights abuses in their palm oil supply chain.

    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.

    March 24, 2017

    In response to the attack in Westminster, London, earlier this week, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: 

    “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible attack in Westminster.

    “This reprehensible attack at the heart of our democracy and on innocent people was a grave breach of human rights.

    “In difficult times such as these, it is important to remain kind and compassionate to one another.

    “Our common humanity must not be undermined by those who seek to divide us. We must stand together against hatred.”

    February 03, 2017

    In a landmark judicial review case on 7, 8 and 10 February, the UK High Court will determine the legality of the UK government’s arms transfers to Saudi Arabia amid the current armed conflict in Yemen.

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rights Watch (UK) and Oxfam will make submissions to the Court, in a legal challenge brought by Campaign against Arms Trade (CAAT).

    “The UK government’s repeated refusal to halt arms transfers beggars belief, given the extensive and credible reporting showing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s ongoing serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes,” said James Lynch, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    “It is a sad state of affairs that NGOs have to go to court in an effort to force the UK government to do the right thing for the people of Yemen. 

    January 26, 2017

    A UK High Court ruling that two Niger Delta communities devastated by oil spills cannot have their claims against Shell heard in the UK could rob them of justice and allow UK multinationals to commit abuses overseas with impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    The High Court ruled today that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be held responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. This is despite the company having profited from decades of abuses and environmental destruction in the Niger Delta. The communities are expected to appeal.

    “The Ogale and Bille communities have been hit by multiple Shell spills, threatening their health and drinking water. The UN found groundwater contamination in Ogale was more than 450 times the legal limit – when Amnesty investigators went back four years later, Shell still hadn’t cleaned up the pollution. This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up,” said Joe Westby, Campaigner on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

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