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Human Rights Abuses

    April 22, 2018

    More than 35,000 people are now reported disappeared in Mexico. 

    It’s a staggering number that continues to climb every day. 

    One of the most notorious cases involves 43 students from a teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa who were taken away by police in September 2016 and never seen again.

    The government’s “investigation” has failed to find the students and led to allegations of covering up an extensive web of complicity involving authorities at all levels of the Mexican state.

    This is no isolated case. Systemic incompetence and a complete lack of will by State and Federal authorities in Mexico to properly search for and investigate the disappearance of thousands of people is fuelling a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions. 

    April 20, 2018

    Responding to the caning of several people – including unmarried couples, punished for showing affection in public, and two women sex workers – in Aceh on Friday, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

    “Caning is an inhuman and degrading form of punishment that may amount to torture which should never be used in any circumstances. The Aceh authorities’ decision to cane unmarried couples, whose only ‘crime’ was showing affection in public, in front of hundreds of spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty.

    “Since January of this year, a total of 47 people have now been caned in public in Aceh, and the list is only getting longer. The provincial administration of Aceh must immediately remove this abhorrent form of punishment from its law books.

    “It is also high time for the international community to press Indonesia to provide a safer environment for everyone in Aceh. The situation risks deteriorating rapidly unless the local administration is pushed to take its obligations to respect human rights seriously.”

    Background

    April 20, 2018

    Responding to the 30-year jail sentence handed to Mohammed Jabateh, a former Liberian war lord known as “Jungle Jabbah” now living in the US, for immigration fraud and perjury due to failure to disclose his involvement in human rights abuses during the Liberian civil war, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher Sabrina Mahtani said:

    “While Mohammed Jabateh was not convicted of the crimes he is allegedly responsible for under international law, this is nevertheless the first case to provide some justice for victims of Liberia’s civil war. Such prosecutions send a strong signal that the US does not have to be a safe haven for human rights abusers.

    March 23, 2018

    Responding to reports that an alleged Russian air strike using an incendiary weapon burned to death 37 civilians – mainly women and children – hiding in an air-raid shelter in the Syrian town of Arbin on Friday, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Senior Advisor Rawya Rageh said:

    “We have previously documented how the use of incendiary weapons is burning alive civilians who are literally left with nowhere to hide. This attack would appear to be the latest horrific example in that pattern.

    “In areas besieged by the Syrian government such as Daraya and elsewhere, civilians told us what particularly struck fear into their hearts during the final period of the siege before they were forced out was the use of incendiary weapons.

    “Many told us they stopped going down to shelters for fear of being burned alive. Those fears seem especially poignant today in light of this latest horrifying loss of life.”

    According to Russian state media, Russia's Ministry of Defence denied responsibility for the attack.

    Further reading

    March 14, 2018

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court today (ICC), Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said:

    “This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country’s brutal ‘war on drugs’.

    “Fortunately for those victims, Duterte’s announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC’s preliminary examination and the Philippines’ obligations towards the court.

    “Duterte cannot stop international accountability in the Philippines simply by deleting his signature from the Rome Statute.

    “If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way – which is at the ICC. Instead, they have taken the cowardly option of trying to evade justice.”

     

    March 14, 2018

    Responding to the conviction of Ahmed H, a Syrian man prosecuted for committing an alleged “act of terror” during clashes with Hungarian police at the Serbia-Hungary border in September 2016, Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Counter-Terrorism in Europe, said:

    “Today’s verdict reflects the dangerous confluence of Hungary’s draconian counter-terrorism laws and its merciless crackdown on refugees and migrants. Ahmed’s conviction on these charges should be quashed on appeal and he should be released without delay.”

    “Ahmed H, who was simply trying to help his family flee Syria, has been unjustly demonized both inside and outside the courtroom. None of the evidence against Ahmed constitutes “an act of terror” and his conviction is a blatant misuse of terrorism-related provisions.

    “After more than two-and-a-half years behind bars, this absurd decision comes as a devastating blow for Ahmed, his wife and his two young daughters.”

    Ahmed H was convicted for “complicity in an act of terror” and “illegal entry as part of a mass riot” and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and expulsion from Hungary for 10 years.

    February 02, 2018

    The decision made today by a federal court to release Sergio Sánchez Arellano, who was arbitrarily detained in 2010 and remained imprisoned in a Mexico City prison for over seven years, represents a victory for justice and the defence of human rights, said Amnesty International.

    “Sergio Sánchez Arellano’s case is a tragic illustration of the risk of being arbitrarily detained in Mexico. Arbitrary detentions by the police are an everyday occurrence in the country and create states of impunity in which further human rights violations such as torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions can take place”, said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Sergio Sánchez spent almost eight years in prison. His release is undoubtedly a step towards justice but there is still a long way to go in order to guarantee reparations for the damages caused in this case and to prevent such cases from recurring”.

    February 02, 2018

    Responding to news that the US government has imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan, now in its fifth year of an armed conflict that has led to widespread abuses and relentless suffering, Amnesty International USA’s Africa Advocacy Director Adotei Akwei said:

    “This long overdue announcement by the Trump administration must spur the UN Security Council to take greater action to prevent further killings of civilians and other gross human rights violations in South Sudan by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo to cut off the flow of weapons to the country.

    “Civilians who have suffered ethnically motivated attacks, mass rape and forced displacement over the past five years deserve the support of the international community, which must do everything in its power to bring stability to the world’s youngest country.”

    Despite the signing of a ceasefire agreement on 21 December 2017 by South Sudan’s warring parties, there has been no let-up in fighting which is likely to escalate during the current dry season – unless coordinated and sustained international action is taken.

    January 31, 2018

    The Bahraini government expelled four of its citizens whose nationality was revoked in 2012, in yet another display of the kingdom’s steady and sustained disregard of its own citizens and for human rights and international law more broadly, said Amnesty International.

    Brothers Ismail and Ibrahim Darwish were expelled to Iraq at 09:00am on 28 January 2018, followed by Adnan Kamal and Habib Darwish on 29 January 2018. Four other people, Mohammed Ali, Abdul Amir, Abdulnabi Almosawi and his wife Maryam Redha, who also had their nationality revoked that same year, were told they would be forcibly deported to Iraq on 1 February 2018.

    “The Bahraini government is using revocation of nationality – rendering many of its citizens stateless in the process - and expulsion, as tools to crush all forms of opposition, dissent and activism.” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director

    “It is doing so with little to no pushback from the international community, including key allies such as the United Kingdom that could use their leverage to publicly condemn these actions,”

    January 30, 2018

    Responding to the news that police have resumed their role in implementing the so-called “war on drugs” declared by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez said:

    “Since President Duterte came to power, police have unlawfully killed thousands of people, the vast majority of them from poor and marginalised communities, in attacks so extensive and brutal they may well amount to crimes against humanity. Now that police are once more returning to the forefront of anti-drug operations, the government must make sure that there is no repeat of the bloodshed seen during the past 18 months.

    “To date, police have been allowed to operate in a culture of almost total impunity. It is a positive step by the Department of Justice to file murder charges against three police officers accused of killing Kian Loyd delos Santos, the teenager whose death is emblematic of the horrors of the ‘war on drugs.’ But independent investigations must cover each of the thousands of other unlawful killings, and all perpetrators, including those in positions of command, must be held to account.

    January 30, 2018
    Communal clashes leading to killings with impunity At least 35 killed as military launches air attacks on villages beset by communal violence

    The Nigerian authorities’ response to communal violence is totally inadequate, too slow and ineffective, and in some cases unlawful, Amnesty International said today, as clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna have resulted in 168 deaths in January 2018 alone.

    “The government must totally overturn its response to these deadly clashes to avoid this crisis getting out of control. They need to investigate and bring suspects to justice,” said Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria.

    “Hundreds of people lost their lives last year, and the government is still not doing enough to protect communities from these violent clashes. Worse, the killers are getting away with murder.”

    “In some cases where the Nigerian security agencies did respond to communal violence, they used excessive or unlawful force resulting in even more deaths and destruction.”

    January 19, 2018

    Ahead of massive popular mobilization and protests announced to take place as of 20 January, Amnesty International calls on the Honduran authorities to respect and protect the right to peaceful assembly life and physical integrity of protestors. The opposition has called for a week of protests at national level to reject the investiture ceremony scheduled to take place on 27 January.

    “The excessive use of force that led to fatal victims and serious injuries since 29 November, is unacceptable and should not be repeated. Honduran authorities have the responsibility to protect people’s lives and rights; security forces must refrain from using firearms to control or disperse crowds. People must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The use of force is an exception only for cases where non-violent measures are ineffective in preventing violence or other lawbreaking, and authorities must ensure it is strictly proportionate to the harm it seeks to prevent.

    January 19, 2018

    New satellite imagery analysis by Amnesty International gives the first comprehensive view of how thousands of structures, including several schools, were demolished in sudden forced evictions that left more than 4,000 families homeless on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in late December.

    No warning was given before armed men accompanied bulldozers to raze the sites on 29 and 30 December 2017, according to UNICEF and Save the Children. UN agencies have said the forced evictions left more than 24,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) homeless, including 3,000 children.

    January 17, 2018

    Reacting to the police shooting dead at least eight protesters in Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “These shocking killings are yet another example of Myanmar security forces’ contempt for human life. Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands. This is a clear case of excessive use of force in violation of the right to life.

    “The lethal use of force must be independently investigated, and those responsible held to account. Far too often, police in Myanmar are allowed to escape unpunished after committing violations, allowing the cycle of impunity and abuse to continue.

    “The Myanmar authorities have a long and chequered history of using any means necessary to curb expressions of dissent. It is high time the Myanmar police better train and equip their staff in non-violent methods of crowd control. In particular, the authorities need to ensure that police have non-lethal means of force at their disposal to use where unavoidable.”

     

    January 11, 2018

    While families were celebrating Christmas holidays at home, police in the city of Chilpancingo forcibly disappeared 5 young men, using chilling tactics that mirror those used by organized crime, said Amnesty International.

    “Tragically, the enforced disappearance of these young men is the latest of a long line of horrors have befallen Guerrero state. The warning signs of corruption and terrible human rights violations have been there for all to see, and those officials that negligently ignored them are themselves complicit,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The organization recently carried out field research in Chilpancingo that confirmed the enforced disappearance of Alán Alexis along with two teenagers under 18, on the 27 December 2017, as well as the enforced disappearance, of Jorge Vázquez Campos and Marco Catalán Cabrera on the 30 December 2017 in the local city fair.

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