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Human Rights

    February 22, 2019

    Drop Politically Motivated Charges against Leila de Lima

    (Manila, February 22, 2019) -- The Philippine government should drop the politically-motivated charges against Senator Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive “war on drugs,” Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FORUM-ASIA said today. De Lima has been arbitrarily detained inside the headquarters of the Philippine National Police since February 24, 2017, in violation of her constitutional rights as a sitting senator and in contravention of international human rights law.

    The arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Senator de Lima is emblematic of the deteriorating situation for all human rights defenders in the Philippines, the organizations said.

    February 21, 2019

    Opposition leader Maurice Kamto will today be summoned by a military court on charges which carry the death penalty, as the Cameroonian authorities intensify their post-election crackdown on critics, Amnesty International said today.

    Kamto, the president of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun-MRC) is the first of a group of 131 people arbitrarily arrested last month and charged by the military court with rebellion, hostility against the homeland, incitement to insurrection, offence against the president of the republic,  and destruction of public buildings and goods, to be summoned by an investigating judge. They all face the death penalty which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.

    February 21, 2019
    Two killed during campaign rallies Journalists caught up in violence Pressures on pro-democracy activists

    Authorities in Senegal should take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Presidential election is held in a climate that is free from violence and respects the freedom of all people to express their views, Amnesty International said ahead of Sunday’s presidential polls.

    On 11 February during campaign rallies, two people were killed in the south eastern town of Tambacounda. Many others, including journalists, were injured following violent clashes between supporters of incumbent President Macky Sall who is seeking a second term, and those of El hadj Issa Sall, one of the opposition candidates.

    “It is unacceptable that people are killed during political rallies. Those responsible for these acts must be identified and brought to justice in fair trials,” said François Patuel, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    February 21, 2019

    The Minister of Homeland Security’s comments that attacks on persons with albinism have not reached crisis levels will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue, Amnesty International said today.

    Malawi is experiencing a resurgence of attacks against persons with albinism, with two fatalities and three abductions since 31 December 2018. Two of those who were abducted were later rescued by community members, one remains missing.

    “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “For years, people with albinism have been living at the mercy of criminal gangs who target them for their body parts. The recent spike in attacks shows that the government, despite amending the Anatomy Act and the Penal Code to ensure stiffer penalties, hasn’t lived up to its commitments on protecting this group.”

    February 20, 2019

    Responding to the news that Egyptian authorities have today executed nine men convicted after a grossly unfair trial for the 2015 killing of the country’s former Public Prosecutor, Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “By carrying out the executions of these nine men today Egypt has demonstrated an absolute disregard for the right to life.

    “Those responsible for the attack that killed Egypt’s former public prosecutor deserve to be punished but executing men who were convicted in trials marred by torture allegations is not justice but a testament to the magnitude of injustice in the country.

    “These executions are a stark demonstration of the government’s increasing use of the death penalty, bringing the total number of death sentences implemented in the past three weeks to 15. Egyptian authorities must urgently halt this bloody execution spree which has seen them repeatedly putting people to death after grossly unfair trials in recent weeks. 

    February 19, 2019

    Novalpina Capital, the private equity firm that has supported NSO Group management to acquire the company from Francisco Partners, must immediately disclose how it plans to prevent further human rights abuses by NSO Group, which has been linked to several chilling attacks on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    In an open letter released today, the organization and six other NGOs urged Novalpina to publicly commit to accountability for NSO Group’s past spyware abuses, including the targeting of an Amnesty International employee and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

    Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

    February 19, 2019

    Egyptian authorities must immediately halt the execution of nine prisoners whom Amnesty International has learned could be put to death as soon as tomorrow morning. The men were convicted after an unfair trial over the 2015 killing of Egypt’s former public prosecutor, and have been moved from their prison cells to the appeals prison in preparation for their executions. During the trial some of the defendants said they were forcibly disappeared and tortured to confessing to the crime.

    Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “Time is running out to save the lives of these nine men. The Egyptian authorities have an opportunity to do the right thing by immediately halting any plans to carry out these executions.

    “There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice.

    February 19, 2019

    Individuals born with sex characteristics that vary from female or male “norms” face barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare, risking lifelong physical and psychological damage, Amnesty International said today. In a new report, “No Shame in Diversity”, the organization uses case studies in Iceland to show how the lack of rights-based healthcare protocols mean that people born with variations of sex characteristics – who sometimes describe themselves as ‘intersex’ - face stigma and discrimination and are often subjected to harmful surgery. 

    A Bill that could help stop this – the Bill on Act on Sexual and Gender Autonomy – is expected to come before the Icelandic Parliament at the end of February but it lacks essential protections for children. In particular, it includes no provisions to end “normalising” non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgeries on children born with variations of sex characteristics.

    February 19, 2019

    Permit Peaceful Expressions of Dissent

    Somaliland authorities should immediately and unconditionally release from arbitrary detention Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet also known as “Abdirahman Abees,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

    Abdirahman, a popular Somaliland poet and British dual citizen, has been held at the central prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, for over a month, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

    Police officers arrested him on January 12, 2019 as he was having lunch at Hargeisa’s Lake Assal Hotel. The day before, he had recited a poem at the Mansoor Hotel that highlighted various human rights concerns in detention in Somaliland such as police brutality, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment of prisoners.

    According to Abdirahman’s lawyers, he was formally charged on February 18 under Article 269 of the Somaliland penal code for “insulting the police and the government”. On February 19, they appointed a judge and set an initial hearing date of February 21, 2019.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to today’s arrest of one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, Maryam Aiwasu, who is pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International said:

    “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Aiwasu who has done nothing more than speaking up for women’s rights. Her arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo – a movement seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.

    “While arresting Maryam, the police attempted to gain access to her laptop and mobile phone by force; this is clearly an effort to access the sensitive evidence she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence.

    February 19, 2019

    In response to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement that the government will deal with those suspected to be behind the national ‘stay-away’ protests, including non-governmental organizations, trade union leaders, opposition leaders, doctors and lawyers, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s unfortunate comments are deeply troubling and unwarranted. Coming off the heels of Amnesty International’s expose of a systematic targeting of dissent during the national ‘stay-away’ period, they affirm that his government used security forces, including military personnel, to brutalize people who were protesting. This latest threat is a sinister hint that the situation could become even worse.

    “If his government wants to build an inclusive country that is based on respect for human rights, President Mnangagwa should accommodate differing views, whether they please his government or not.”

    Background

    February 15, 2019

    Grave Concern Detainees Have Been Tortured, Killed

    Equatorial Guinea named a French anti-corruption lawyer in an arrest warrant against 16 people, in apparent retaliation for his involvement in a money laundering trial against the president’s eldest son, nine human rights and anti-corruption groups said today.

    The warrant accuses the 16 targets of laundering money and helping to finance “terrorism and the proliferation of arms trafficking in Central Africa.”

    Named in the warrant are also people already in police custody accused of participating in a December 2017 coup attempt. They have been unable to communicate with their families or lawyers since their arrest, raising serious concern about their risk of torture and other ill treatment and in some cases their right to life, the organizations said.

    February 15, 2019

    Egyptian authorities are flagrantly violating international law by denying family visits to scores of detainees, Amnesty International said today. The organization has examined an official document which confirms there is an open-ended ban on family visits in a number of sections at two major prison complexes in Cairo and Alexandria.

    Amnesty International has also recorded at least 61 cases of people who were prevented from receiving family visits for protracted periods – in some cases for up to two years -  at Tora prison in Cairo and Borg al-Arab in Alexandria. The total number of detainees barred from receiving family visits at these two prisons is likely to be much higher.

    “Egypt’s arbitrary and unlawful restrictions on family visits are depriving scores of detainees of their rights to keep in touch with family members, and often also of the chance to receive medication, food or clothing from their loved ones during their detention,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    February 14, 2019

    A type of Belgian machine gun known to be wielded by a Yemeni militia in the Hodeidah offensive is among the weaponry set to be showcased this weekend at one of the Middle East’s largest arms fairs in Abu Dhabi, Amnesty International said today.

    According to promotional materials for the UAE’s IDEX2019 arms fair, the Minimi will be among the thousands of types of weapons available for sale. Manufactured in Belgium’s Wallonia region by FN Herstal, it is among an array of arms transferred by the Belgian Walloon authorities to the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led coalition in recent years for use in the armed conflict in Yemen.

    An Amnesty International investigation last week documented the same weapon type being used by “The Giants,” a Yemeni militia that is backed and supplied by the UAE but not accountable to any government.

    February 14, 2019

    Reacting to the European Parliament’s condemnation of the ongoing repression and torture of a group of women’s rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia since May 2018, the Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office Covadonga de la Campa said:

    ‘The European Parliament’s resolution on Saudi Arabia is an important step which acknowledges the incredible courage of these imprisoned men and women, several of whom have been tortured for demanding the end of the male guardianship system, campaigning for women’s right to drive and tirelessly defending human rights.’

    ‘After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini assured the European Parliament that the EU would support human rights activists “regardless of geopolitics”. It is time for them to come good on this promise and speak out for Saudi detainees, as silent diplomacy has thus far failed to protect them.’

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