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Human Rights

    November 19, 2018

    Ahead of World Children’s Day on November 20, Amnesty International is calling for all children currently being held at the Dilley Detention Center to be freed with their families, and for the USA to end its plan of expanding family detention centers. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, is currently the largest immigration detention center in the United States, holding hundreds of families. The capacity for the Center is now at 2,400 beds. Seven-year-old Mario is one of the children that remains behind bars at Dilley after being separated from his mother, Andrea, for 73 days for seeking safety. They left Guatemala after years of being targeted because they belong to the Q’eqchi Indigenous group.

    Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, stated:

    November 19, 2018

    Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand-Prix, which is set to take place between 23 and 25 November, the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must step up to the modern image they want to project and unconditionally release all those who have been detained solely for peacefully criticizing the government.

    “As the world tunes in to watch the final race of the Formula One Grand-Prix season and attend glitzy music concerts, they should know that the UAE authorities have also been racing to silence critics and human rights defenders,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    Since 2011, the UAE authorities have embarked on a ruthless crackdown targeting human rights defenders, judges, lawyers, academics, students and journalists, in their efforts to stamp out dissent in the country. Many have been subjected to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and unfair trials. As a result, critics and dissidents in the UAE are serving lengthy prison sentences simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    November 16, 2018

    Petrified civilians in Hodeidah face a likely onslaught unless the UN Security Council acts today to press the warring parties in Yemen to protect them and ensure full humanitarian access, Amnesty International said.  

    The Security Council will discuss Yemen’s conflict and humanitarian crisis at 15:00 EST (20:00GMT).

    “Even with the lull in fighting in recent days, Hodeidah remains on a knife-edge, and the ominous fear of mortal danger looms large. Hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped near frontlines must be protected amid the fighting and granted safe passage out of the city,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York.

    “Bombs and bullets have killed thousands of civilians across Yemen, while the crushing descent into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis has placed many millions of already food-insecure people at imminent risk of famine. The Security Council must demand that all sides protect civilians by respecting international humanitarian law. They must ensure the unimpeded flow of aid and essential goods, including via Hodeidah port.

    November 16, 2018

    Responding to the deaths of two University of Kinshasa students on Thursday 15 November following the unlawful use of lethal force by Congolese police against campus protestors, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki said:

    “The use of live ammunition to disperse student protests on university campuses in the DRC is abhorrent and illegal. No one should have to die because they exercised their right to freedom of expression or took part in a peaceful protest.

    “The government must immediately launch a thorough and impartial investigation into these student deaths and bring to justice those found to be responsible.

    “The authorities must ensure that all students injured in these protests receive comprehensive medical treatment. We also urge the leadership of the university to listen to student concerns and allow future student protests to take place, without involving the police in settling disputes on campus.” 


    November 16, 2018

    Libyan, European and Panamanian authorities must ensure that at least 79 refugees and migrants who are on board a merchant vessel at the port of Misratah are not forced to disembark to be taken to a Libyan detention centre where they could face torture and other abuse, said Amnesty International today.

    The refugees and migrants, including a number of children, were found as they attempted to reach Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. Amnesty International understands that Italian and Maltese maritime authorities were involved in the operation, carried out by the merchant ship Nivin. Flying a Panamanian flag, the Nivin picked the group up in the central Mediterranean on 8 November and returned them to Libya, in what appears to be a clear breach of international law, given that Libya cannot be considered a safe place to disembark.

    November 15, 2018

    Following  comments by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in which he acknowledged the need for a more” balanced” law governing NGOs, Amnesty International has published an open letter to the government calling for the law to be scrapped and replaced with a version that is in line with Egypt’s constitutional and international commitments to ensure the right to freedom of association.

    “While President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to order a review of Egypt’s repressive NGO law is encouraging, amending the law is not enough. It is crucial that the authorities develop a new law in consultation with independent civil society and take concrete steps to end the relentless assault on Egypt’s human rights community,” said Najia Bounaim, Head of Campaigns for North Africa at Amnesty International.

    November 15, 2018

    In response to a statement made by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that ‘foreign nationals’ are behind the overcrowding of hospitals and the struggling health system, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said:

    “Minister Motsoaledi should stop this shameless scapegoating of refugees and migrants. He has been in charge of the health department for almost a decade and should have been fully aware of the challenges faced by the public health system, including the need for more investment, to address the health needs of the growing population. He has failed to take adequate action.

    “He is now blaming refugees and migrants to abdicate his responsibility. Minister Motsoaledi should stop fueling xenophobia with these unfounded remarks and take urgent steps to improve access to affordable and quality health care for all persons in South Africa.” 


    November 14, 2018

    Responding to the news that a Moroccan court has upheld a five-year prison sentence against El Mortada Iamrachen, a local imam and Hirak protester from the northern Rif region of Morocco, for peacefully expressing his views in two Facebook posts, Amnesty International’s MENA Regional Director Heba Morayef said:

    “Today’s verdict is another appalling blow for freedom of expression in Morocco and a blatant miscarriage of justice.

    “With this prison sentence El Mortada Iamrachen is being cruelly punished merely for expressing his opinions on Facebook. He has already been held in solitary confinement for 11 months in violation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treament. The fact that he will be imprisoned for years for peacefully expressing his views is abhorrent.

    "El Mortada Iamrachen appears to have been targeted because of his role as an advocate of peaceful protests. His conviction is the latest example of the Moroccan authorities’ stepping up their crackdown on dissent by prosecuting and intimidating protesters from the Hirak movement.

    November 14, 2018

    Responding to the news that the Iranian authorities have executed Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi, two men convicted of financial crimes after a grossly unfair trial, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said:

    “With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law and once again displayed their shameless disregard for the right to life.

    “Use of the death penalty is appalling under any circumstances but it is even more horrific given that these men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television. Under international human rights law, the death penalty is absolutely forbidden for non-lethal crimes, such as financial corruption.

    “The shocking manner in which their trial was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system without allowing them the chance of a proper appeal is yet another example of the brazen disregard the Iranian authorities have for defendants’ basic due process rights.”


    November 13, 2018

    Responding to the Lebanese parliamentary vote approving a bill to address the issue of the missing and disappeared in Lebanon, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East research director, said:

    “Today’s vote brings long overdue national acknowledgment of the plight of the thousands of relatives of people who went missing or were forcibly disappeared during the 1975-1990 armed conflict in Lebanon.

    “Since the mid-1980s, relatives have relentlessly raised their voice despite the fear of repercussions from armed groups and foreign military forces involved in these violations. They have faced physical harassment, and perhaps most painfully, societal isolation, but continued with one, unique demand: ‘We want to know’.

    “This law, which was initially presented by civil society organizations following two years of consultations, is a major step towards the creation of a national commission. With a mandate to investigate individual cases, locate and exhume mass graves and enable a tracing process which will finally provide closure to the families.

    November 13, 2018

    Iranian authorities must immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of members of the Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority being held without access to their families or lawyers, Amnesty International said following reports that some have been executed in secret.

    In the last few days, Ahwazi Arab activists outside Iran have told Amnesty International that 22 men, including civil society activist Mohammad Momeni Timas, have been killed in secret.

    Since 24 September, up to 600 Ahwazi Arabs have been detained incommunicado in a wave of arrests following a deadly armed attack that took place in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, two days earlier.

    “If confirmed, the secret executions of these men would be not only a crime under international law but also an abhorrent violation of their right to life and a complete mockery of justice, even by the shocking standards of Iran’s judicial system,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    November 12, 2018

    Following the announcement today of the arrest of at least 36 key security officials suspected to be responsible for gross human rights violations in Ethiopia, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki said:

    “These arrests are an important first step towards ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades. Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities.

    “We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials. The authorities must also ensure victims’ access to justice and effective remedies, including adequate reparation.

    November 12, 2018
    Area around main public hospital al-Thawra comes under sustained attack Medical worker describes hundreds of staff and patients fleeing in terror

    Hundreds of medical workers and patients, including a malnourished woman carrying her daughter in a surgical robe and a man still hooked up to a catheter, fled in terror as a series of large explosions rocked a hospital in central Hodeidah yesterday, according to an eyewitness who spoke to Amnesty International.

    Just before noon on 11 November, an attack reportedly carried out by the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition hit very close to al-Thawra hospital – Hodeidah’s largest public medical facility.

    November 12, 2018

    Amnesty International announced today that it has withdrawn its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Aung San Suu Kyi, in light of the Myanmar leader’s shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for.

    On 11 November, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi to inform her the organization is revoking the 2009 award. Half way through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Naidoo expressed the organization’s disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

    “As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” wrote Kumi Naidoo.

    November 09, 2018

    In response to President Trump’s Proclamation to limit the rights of people seeking asylum along the Southern border, Amnesty International´s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

    “President Trump’s Proclamation is yet another attempt to destroy the United States´ long tradition to guarantee the fundamental human right to seek protection from life-threatening fear and persecution. Asylum is not a loophole, it is a lifeline. This policy needlessly places the lives of thousands of people in danger. U.S law states that any individual can seek asylum, whether or not they are at an official point of entry.

    “Beyond Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric are mothers, fathers, and children fleeing extremely dangerous situations enduring a perilous journey because they’ve had no choice but to leave their home.”

    Amnesty International USA´s executive director Margaret Huang added:


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