Pictured above: Indigenous Leader and Human Rights Defender - Mario Luna Romero
Pictured above: Indigenous Leader and Human Rights Defender - Mario Luna Romero
It’s not often we have positive news to share on death penalty cases. However, in August 2017 we heard back news on two cases in the US whereby the Governor in Missouri issued a stay of execution and the Governor in Arkansas announced his intent to commute a death sentence.
On 22 August, the governor of Missouri issued a stay of execution for Marcellus Williams who was due to be put to death later that day. The governor issued a stay of execution so as that he could appoint a five-member Board of Inquiry to consider “all evidence presented to the jury, in addition to newly discovered DNA evidence, and any other relevant evidence not available to the jury”. The Board “shall report and make a recommendation to the Governor as to whether or not Williams should be executed or his sentence of death commuted”.
The announcement of a ceasefire agreement between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government is a historic step forward in efforts towards a just and sustainable peace in Colombia. Peace negotiations must ensure that all responsible for serious violations and abuses of human rights are held accountable, Amnesty International said.
“Colombia is taking yet another step towards an end to a five-decade-long armed conflict that has shattered millions of lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“It is imperative that all parties to the conflict end attacks on civilians and other crimes under international law and that the parties prioritise human rights and accountability during peace negotiations.”
The ceasefire has been signed for a four-month period, after which the Colombian government and the ELN will start discussing a potential peace agreement.
Photo Credit: via Amnesty Germany
The criminal case against prominent Russian human rights defender Valentina Cherevatenko for “violation of ‘foreign agents’ law” was closed on June 19 due to an “absence of the elements of the crime”. She was not informed of the decision and only learnt of it by accident over a month later.
Valentina was the first Russian activist to face criminal prosecution under the "foreign agents" law. Therefore, news of the case against her being dropped is also a victory for Russian civil society as a whole, bringing hope that there may be space for positive change.
Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, prominent Sudanese human rights defender has been released with all charges against him dropped - along with five other human rights defenders, late on August 29.
Reacting to the good news, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:
“It is a great relief that this awful chapter has drawn to a close. Dr Mudawi, a prisoner of conscience, has been reunited with his family and is once again a free man.
Photo: Four-year-old Carlos spent nearly half his life in immigration detention in the U.S. with his mother, Lorena. Now he and three other children and their mothers are free!
GOOD NEWS: The Berks Kids are free!
No child should grow up behind bars. But thanks to Amnesty supporters, courageous lawyers and activists on the ground, four children and their mothers are finally free after nearly 700 days in an immigration detention center in the United States!
On 17 August, four-year-old Carlos and 16-year-old Michael along with their mothers, Lorena and Maribel (all names changed to protect their identities), were ordered released from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania by an immigration judge after nearly 700 days in detention. This follows the release of two other young boys and their mothers held in Berks for over 22 months on 7 and 14 August.
Photo Credit: Amnesty International
University professor Dr Salem Mohamed Beitelmal was released on 6 June. He had been abducted by local militias on the outskirts of Tripoli since 20 April. He has now returned home and joined his family.
Syrian Kurdish opposition activist Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou was released on 24 June. He had been detained by the Asayish forces since 23 May. Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou was held in poor conditions while suffering a critical heart condition.
Suleiman Abdulmajid Oussou, a 58-year-old activist and father of six, was released on 24 June from Allaya prison in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, for treatment and under the condition that he signs a written statement pledging that he will attend the court hearings when notified. Suleiman Oussou is currently receiving the medical care his condition requires and recovering at home.
Opposition politician Adam Azim has been released after spending nearly a week in detention in Maldives. He was arrested and faced trumped up charges after criticizing the government in a TV interview.
Adam Azim, 46, is a well-known advocate for democracy in Maldives and a shadow minister in the opposition alliance, Maldives United Opposition (MUO). Shortly after his return to Maldives from a visit to Europe, Adam Azim was interviewed on the private TV channel Sangu TV on 8 June where he criticized the lack of independence of the judiciary as well as alleged corruption among government officials. Hours after his interview, police arrested him at his home in the capital, Malé. According to the arrest warrant, Adam Azim was suspected of inciting rioting and forceful overthrow of the government as well as obstructing police officers and obstructing the administration of law (under Sections 532, 533 and 610 of the Penal Code). He could have faced up to 17 years in prison if charged and convicted.
Photo credit: via Crime Russia website.
Murad Amriev was handed over to Russian law enforcement officers at 3am on 9 June after having been returned from Belarus where he unsuccessfully attempted to claim asylum. He has been released on bail on condition that he does not leave Chechnya.
At 12pm on 9 June the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya reported that at 3am Murad Amriev had been handed over to officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya. On 10 June it was reported in the media that Murad Amriev had been released on bail on condition that he would not leave Chechnya.
Fernand Cello, a Malagasy investigative journalist, has had three charges which were related to his journalism work dropped. These charges were related to his journalism work. He is also now receiving the medical care he needs.
The charges of ‘defamation’, ‘endangering state security’, and ‘incitation to hatred’ which were related to Fernand Cello’s journalism work have been dropped. The Malagasy investigative journalist is still facing four other charges related to accusations that he stole a cheque book. He has denied these allegations.
Fernand Cello, whose real name is Avimana Fernand, was arrested on Friday 5 May as he was leaving a private clinic in Antananarivo where he had spent several days receiving treatment for angina. The arrest came after he exposed an illegal sapphire mining site. The company managing the site was eventually ordered by the ministry of mining to suspend its operations for contravening the mining code.
A call for appeals for Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins was sent to the Urgent Action Network on the 12 of October 2016.
On 1 June, a Dili court cleared Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins of all charges against them. The two Timorese journalists were on trial on criminal “defamatory false information” charges filed by Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister in 2016.
Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins were cleared of criminal defamation on 1 June by a court in Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital. Prime Minister Rui Aria de Araujo filed criminal charges on 22 January 2016 against the two journalists for “defamatory false information” or “slanderous denunciation” under Article 285(1) of the Timor-Leste Criminal Code over a 2015 article they published about irregularities during the tendering process for a government IT project.
A call for appeals for Thayyib's release was sent to the Urgent Action Network on March 29 2017.
Maldivian social media activist Thayyib Shaheem was released on 17 April after spending almost one month on remand in Dhoonidhoo island prison. He was accused of “spreading panic” on social media after he criticized a development project in Maldives.
On 17 April 2017, Thayyib Shaheem was released from prison after the High Court overturned the Criminal Court’s detention order against him. Despite never being formally charged with a crime, he is released on the condition that he ceases his criticism of the government on social media and that he remain in the country for a period of 60 days.
TweetIn a landmark decision for environmental defenders in Peru, a Supreme Court ruling on 3 May 2017 marked an end of the trial for land invasion against human rights defender Máxima Acuña Atalaya.
#MaximaAcuna has prevailed in her struggle against criminalization! https://t.co/WaiaKEc6N7
— Alex Neve (@AlexNeveAmnesty) May 4, 2017What happened?
In August 2011, peasant farmer and human rights defender, Máxima Acuña Atalaya, and members of her family were accused of land invasion.
After almost five years of proceedings in relation to the unfounded criminal charges of land invasion, the Supreme Court of Justice has ruled that there was no reason to pursue the groundless trial of Máxima.
A call for appeals for Keywan's release was sent to the Urgent Action Network on January 22 2016.
Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on 19 April 2017. He had been imprisoned since 23 November 2016. Keywan Karimi was a prisoner of conscience.
Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, was released on 19 April 2017 after spending nearly five months in prison. According to an interview given by his lawyer, Amir Raeisian, to the Saat24 (24 Hours) news website on 19 April 2017, Keywan Karimi was released after the Office of the Prosecutor and Branch 54 of the Court of Appeal in Tehran agreed to grant him a conditional release. He will be under probation until the end of October 2017. His flogging sentence of 223 lashes can be enforced at any time and his five-year suspended prison sentence remains in place.