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Human Rights

    May 23, 2019

    On Tuesday, Amnesty International launched the ‘Brazil for Everyone’ campaign, presenting its concerns and recommendations for guaranteeing, protecting and promoting human rights in the country five months after President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration began.

    The organisation’s positions have been addressed to Bolsonaro in an open letter that the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, intend to deliver to the president personally in Brasilia, where they will be seeking an audience with government representatives until Thursday 23 May. On Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a joint statement saying they were open to dialogue with Amnesty International.

    May 22, 2019

    Cyril Ramaphosa is due to be inaugurated as president of South Africa on 25 May 2019, nearly three weeks after his African National Congress (ANC) party’s election victory. Ahead of the inauguration, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said:

    “As his African National Congress prepares to lead the country for the next five years, Cyril Ramaphosa must place human rights at the centre of the government’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. This begins with ensuring justice for victims of the events in Marikana, who are still waiting for answers almost seven years on.

    “Cyril Ramaphosa should publicly commit to ensuring full respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of all South Africans – the principles on which the country was founded as enshrined in the bill of rights.

    “He should draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela who stood with human rights even when it was unpopular to do so, and did not shy away from calling out leaders who found themselves on the wrong side of humanity.”

    Background

    May 21, 2019

    On 21 May, a delegation comprising the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, will visit Brasilia, where they will attempt to deliver to President Bolsonaro and other representatives of the government a letter setting out these concerns, together with recommendations for guaranteeing, promoting and protecting human rights in the country.

    “Some of the measures adopted or proposed by this government over the past five months raise many concerns,” said Jurema Werneck. “They could increase the risk of homicides with firearms. They legitimise a public security policy based on the use of lethal force. They violate the rights of indigenous peoples and Quilombolas. They base drug policy on punitive and ineffective practices. They could increase monitoring of NGOs without justification. They deny victims of the military regime the right to truth, justice and reparations. All of this is accompanied by an overtly anti-human-rights rhetoric which only adds to Amnesty International’s concerns about the human rights situation in Brazil.”

    May 17, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to remove all countries from the Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) list. The DCO regime violates the rights of refugee protection claimants to a fair hearing by imposing shorter timelines and other measures for no reason other than the claimant’s country of origin. Furthermore, delays in accessing the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) for claimants from DCO countries have been found to be unconstitutional.

    In March 2019, the Federal Court struck down the distinction between the DCO and non-DCO claimants’ access to the PRRA. While DCO claimants were ineligible to apply for a PRRA for 36 months from the date of rejection of their claims, non-DCO refugee claimants were ineligible for 12 months after rejection of their claims. This difference in treatment was considered unconstitutional. Similarly, in July 2015, the Federal Court found that differential treatment in accessing the Refugee Appeal Division between DCO and non-DCO claimants was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    May 17, 2019

    A contemptible amendment to Iran’s code of criminal procedure could effectively strip detainees who are facing punishments such as the death penalty, life imprisonment and amputation, of the right to access a lawyer while they are under investigation, said Amnesty International.

    An analysis of the bill published by the organization today details how, if passed, the amended law would permit the prosecution to immediately deprive individuals arrested on “national security” and certain other serious criminal charges of access to a lawyer for 20 days, which could be extended to cover the whole investigation phase. In Iran, those charged with “national security” offences include human rights defenders, journalists and political dissidents targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights.

    May 17, 2019

    Responding to the news that lawmakers in Taiwan have passed a law that will see the island become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, effective from 24 May, Annie Huang, Acting Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said:

    “Taiwan has today made history in the fight for equality for LGBTI people. Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination. This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

    “We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.

    “We are filled with pride and joy that from next Friday same-sex couples in Taiwan will be able to marry and finally have their love and relationships recognized as equal under the law. But the Taiwanese government must not stop here; it needs to act to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identities and intersex status.”

    Background

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the UAE Federal Court’s verdict into the case of eight Lebanese men, all Shi’a Muslims, sentencing one to life in prison, two to ten years, and acquitting five others following a trial marred by due process and fair trial concerns, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial – such as having access to a lawyer – strips today’s verdict of any reliability or credibility.

    “The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims. These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men.

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the Alabama Senate approving a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, Tarah Demant, the Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program at Amnesty International USA, said:

    "Alabama’s vote is the latest in a string of abortion bans specifically designed to strip people’s reproductive rights away. These bans will be deadly, endanger pregnant people’s lives, and criminalize doctors and health care providers for simply doing their jobs and providing care.

    "These bans reinforce violence against women by victimizing survivors of rape and sexual violence twofold by denying their right to access abortion. They are a gross and dangerous turn back to a dark history where women risked their lives to access their sexual and reproductive rights."

    May 15, 2019

    Danna Ingleton is Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech 

    In June last year, one of my colleagues at Amnesty International received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number. It contained details about a protest supposedly taking place at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, and my colleague was instantly suspicious. The message came at a time when Amnesty International was campaigning for the release of six jailed activists in Saudi Arabia, and something didn’t feel right.

    An analysis of the links in the message proved these suspicions to be well-founded. Amnesty’s Tech team found that clicking the link would have secretly installed potent spyware on the phone, obtaining total access to calls, messages, photos and GPS location. A closer look enabled us to trace the attack back to a secretive Israeli company: NSO Group.

    May 14, 2019

    Today marks the first anniversary of the arrests of several prominent women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, after a shameful year for human rights in the Kingdom in which activists, journalists, academics, and writers were targeted, Amnesty International said today.

    In the past year, Saudi Arabian activists, including several women human rights defenders, have suffered the terrible ordeal of arbitrary detention, unable to speak to or see their loved ones for long months and with no access to legal representation. Women activists also detailed accounts of their torture, ill-treatment and sexual abuse to the court, and many of them now face a prison term for their peaceful activism and speech.  

    May 14, 2019
    Nabi Saleh demonstrations, 2013

    Palestinians living in the occupied territories cannot get to work or school, or see their friends and family without feeling the disruptive effect of Israel’s military rule. It restricts the ability to farm their land, attend a protest, improve their homes, raise families, travel for medical purposes, or access essential services such as electricity and clean water.

    A Palestinian prisoner’s experience is even more dire: they must not only withstand all the above, but also arbitrary detention from Israeli and Palestinian forces, cruel and unlawful treatment, the repression of fundamental human rights, and the ongoing unlawful detention of children.

    For both, life is made all the more insufferable by Israel’s ever-expanding settlement operation.

    May 13, 2019

    This article was originally published by First Nations Drum 

    By Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum and Alex Neve

    In 2010, former prime minister Stephen Harper publicly reversed his government’s opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In a formal “statement of support,” the Harper government said that it had listened to Indigenous leaders in Canada and “learned from the experience of other countries” and was now “confident” that Canada could move ahead with implementation of the Declaration “in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

    So why wouldn’t Conservative Members of Parliament and Senators support legislation intended to finally move ahead with the work of implementing the Declaration in Canada?

    May 13, 2019

    Reacting to the onward voyage of the Saudi Arabian state shipping company’s vessel, the Bahri Yanbu, from the Spanish port of Santander this afternoon, Ara Marcen Naval, Deputy Director for Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Laden with arms that will likely be used in the war in Yemen, the Bahri Yanbu has been bouncing off European ports like a pinball. After loading up with Belgian munitions in Antwerp, it has visited or attempted to visit ports in the UK, France and now Spain, and is due to dock at the Italian port of Genoa later this week. 

    “This is a serious test of EU countries’ resolve to uphold their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and EU Common Position on Arms Exports. Several states have failed this test in the space of just a few days.

    “No EU state should be making the deadly decision to authorize the transfer or transit of arms to a conflict where there is a clear risk they will be used in war crimes and other serious violations of international law.

    May 10, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes today’s landmark decision in Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness v Chhina, finding that the statutory regime in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act does not provide for review that is “at least as broad and advantageous as habeas corpus.”

    This case was about the basic right of immigration detainees to challenge the lawfulness of their detention by way of habeas corpus – a constitutionally protected right rooted in centuries of common law protections limiting the power of the State to arbitrarily deprive individuals of their liberty. When the case was heard last fall, Amnesty International argued that Canada has an international legal obligation to guarantee immigration detainees are able to exercise this right.

    May 10, 2019

    The Sudanese people have been protesting since December 2018 when they took to the streets to express their anger over rising costs of living and the decline of political freedom. Their pressure worked and on 11 April, Sudan’s military overthrew the National Congress Party (NCP) government, arresting President Omar al-Bashir and other senior party leaders.

    But while al-Bashir’s 30-year rule has come to an end, the human rights situation in Sudan, which has deteriorated dramatically since the beginning of the protests, continues to worsen. Many of the protestors calling for peace, justice, rule of law and economic reforms have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty.

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