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Economic and Social Rights

    March 08, 2019

    Responding to the publication of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, said:

    “The report importantly stresses the need to press ahead with truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government should implement the report’s recommendations in full, in line with the commitments already made in the UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/1. As the High Commissioner has noted, slow progress on these commitments has resulted in few concrete results.

    “Amnesty International also calls on the UN Human Rights Council to welcome the High Commissioner’s report and keep the situation in Sri Lanka on its agenda. The council should also reaffirm its support for Resolution 30/1, ensure the Office of the High Commissioner continues to monitor progress on commitments, and urge the Sri Lankan government to meet those commitments in a time-bound manner.”


    August 30, 2018

    The Eswatini government must halt forced evictions which have left hundreds of people homeless and pushed them deeper into poverty, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    They don’t see us as people: security of tenure and forced evictions in Eswatini details forced evictions in two areas of the country that resulted in more than 200 people, most of them subsistence farmers, being made homeless and without access to land where they could continue farming.

    Although the evictions involved a long legal process, they were carried out in the absence of adequate notice, genuine consultation and without adequate compensation, in violation of international law. Amnesty International is also aware of at least 300 more people facing imminent eviction from land they depend on for farming, food and their livelihoods.

    August 14, 2018

    OTTAWA (August 14, 2018) - At a press conference in Ottawa today advocates released an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau signed by over 170 organizations and prominent Canadians urging the Prime Minister to make good on his commitment to the right to housing by enshrining that right in upcoming National Housing Strategy legislation.

    August 17, 2017
      The terrible aftermath of the mudslides in Sierra Leone, which have left more than 3000 people homeless, grimly illustrates the human cost of the government’s failure to implement housing and land policies, said Amnesty International.   Over 400 people were killed in the mudslide, which struck in the early hours of Monday 14 August in the Regent community of the capital, Freetown, with victims largely those living in informal settlements. With hundreds of people still missing, the shocking death toll is expected to rise substantially.   “Right now, Sierra Leone needs immediate assistance to save lives and provide for those who have lost their homes, but we should also ask why so many people died. While flooding is a natural disaster, the scale of the human tragedy in Freetown is, sadly, very much man-made,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.  
    June 14, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ latest decision to slash the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences for residents who have already endured a decade of suffering under Israel’s brutal blockade, Amnesty International has warned.

    The latest round of power cuts announced by Israel on 11 June restricting the electricity supply to between two and three hours a day, will have a disastrous impact on Gaza’s battered infrastructure and cause a public health disaster. The move will also endanger thousands of lives including those of hospital patients with chronic conditions or in intensive care, including babies on life support.

    “For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. Under the burden of the illegal blockade and three armed conflicts, the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely. The latest power cuts risk turning an already dire situation into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 31, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    In response to reports that President Donald Trump is expected to pull the USA from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said:

    “Let there be no doubt, President Trump’s expected decision to withdraw the USA from the global climate deal is an assault on a range of human rights putting millions of people’s lives and wellbeing around the world in severe jeopardy. By refusing to join other nations in taking necessary steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, the President is effectively saying: ‘Let them drown, burn and starve’.”

    May 31, 2017

    Chinese authorities must release three labour activists who were investigating labour conditions at factories that make shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label, Amnesty International said.

    Hua Haifeng, who works for New York based NGO China Labour Watch, was detained by mainland police after he attempted to travel to Hong Kong last week to publicize the findings of the undercover investigation. Two of his colleagues, Li Zhao and Su Heng, are also missing and are feared detained.

    “Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao and Su Heng must be released if they are being held solely for investigating possible labour abuses at factories making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label. Activists exposing potential human rights abuses deserve protection not persecution from the authorities,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The trio appear to be the latest to fall foul of the Chinese authorities’ aggressive campaign against human rights activists who have any ties to overseas organizations, using the pretence of “national security”.”


    November 11, 2016

    The Lagos State authorities must take immediate steps to provide alternative accommodation for as many as 30,000 people who were made homeless, in direct contravention of a court order, when their homes were deliberately set alight in the Otodo Gbame community in Lekki, Lagos, Amnesty International said today.

    Although it is unclear who started the first fire on the morning of Wednesday 9 November, eyewitnesses have told the organization that police present did not attempt to stop the fire. Instead, they say they were chased away by police officers when they attempted to put it out. After the fire stopped in the afternoon, the police and a demolition team returned overnight with a bulldozer. Eyewitnesses say that the police then started the fire again, forcibly evicting thousands from their homes. At no point were firefighters seen.

    August 22, 2016

    In response to the opening today of the trial of Ahmad Al-Fadi Al-Mahdi, an alleged senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, for attacks on mosques and mausoleums in Timbuktu in 2012, Amnesty International’s Africa Senior Legal Advisor Erica Bussey said:


    “Attacks against religious and historical monuments violate cultural rights and can cause significant harm to the local and sometimes broader communities. They are war crimes and those suspected of carrying out such attacks should be prosecuted.”


    “However, while this case breaks new ground for the ICC, we must not lose sight of the need to ensure accountability for other crimes under international law, including murder, rape and torture of civilians that have been committed in Mali since 2012.”


    For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332



    March 30, 2016

    Released 00.01 BST (01:01 GMT) 31 March 2016

    First evidence of migrant exploitation on 2022 World Cup site

    Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labour, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    The report, “The ugly side of the beautiful game: Labour exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup venue”, blasts FIFA’s shocking indifference to appalling treatment of migrant workers. The number of people working on World Cup sites is set to surge almost ten-fold to around 36,000 in the next two years.

    “The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.

    “Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.”

    March 07, 2016

    The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights issued its Concluding Observations today following its review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights last month.  It is the Committee’s first review of Canada since 2006 and the first review of Canada by any UN human rights body under Prime Minister Trudeau’s government. 

    The Committee has forcefully rejected the position advanced by the government on numerous occasions over many years that economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights are of a different nature and not susceptible to the same level of judicial enforcement as civil and political rights.

    October 27, 2015

    Released on 00:01 GMT Wednesday 28 October 2015

    An estimated 50,000 or more people have been forcibly evicted from their homes as part of a push to ‘beautify’ the capital of Turkmenistan ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Amnesty International can reveal today as it published satellite images showing the extent of the devastation.

    Amnesty International’s analysis of satellite images shows that 5,000 houses, each home to an average of five people, were destroyed in the Choganly neighbourhood near Ashgabat between March 2014 and April 2015. The organization has since learned that the entire neighbourhood – comprising more than 10,000 houses – was entirely razed to the ground by September and that fresh demolitions are continuing in other areas of the capital rendering many families homeless.

    October 27, 2015

    A UN vote to lift the US embargo on Cuba today sends, once again, a strong message to US President Barack Obama and Congress about the dire human rights impact of the economic embargo on ordinary Cubans, said Amnesty International. 

    “Claiming to be open to fostering a new kind of relation with the Cuban authorities on the one hand and maintaining an economic embargo that prevents ordinary Cubans from accessing medicines and other basic commodities on the other is a complete incongruence on the part of the US and greatly contributes to further undermine human rights in Cuba,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The US Congress must listen to the loud message sent by the international community through the UN today and lift an embargo that has no place in today’s world.” 

    Earlier today, 191 countries voted in favor of the resolution calling on the USA to lift its economic embargo against Cuba. Only the USA and Israel voted against it. 

    September 18, 2015

    Authorities in Lagos state must act immediately to protect hundreds of families in the informal settlement of Badia East who are being forcibly evicted today, said Amnesty International.

    Demolitions began this afternoon after police had been in the community earlier asking residents to move out. Bulldozers had arrived in the informal settlement in the early hours of Friday morning, after repossession notices were daubed across buildings with red paint yesterday. Residents were given just one day's notice of the demolition and to date, no adequate remedy or alternative housing has been offered and the local chief has not conducted any formal consultation with the affected residents.

    "Hundreds of people in Badia East woke up this morning to the frightening sight of bulldozers outside their homes. With wholly inadequate notice, they are at serious risk of being forcibly evicted because of a court ruling which they have no chance to appeal,” said Morayo Adebayo, Nigeria Researcher for Amnesty International.

    June 25, 2015

    TORONTO, June 25, 2015 - The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts.

    With no evidence before them, two out of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a controversial lower court decision that issues of homelessness do not belong in the courtroom. The Supreme Court decision affirms this ruling and brings to a close the five year wait by homeless and precariously housed applicants to have 10,000 pages of evidence detailing the impact of homelessness on hundreds of thousands of people across the country presented to the court.

    “The housing and homelessness crisis is directly related to policy decisions that governments make every day,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, one of sixteen organizations that intervened in the case. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the troubling ways that those decisions impact and even violate the rights of some of the most marginalized communities in Canada remain unexamined.”


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