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Crimes Against Humanity

    September 30, 2013

    Authorities in Nigeria must take urgent measures to protect schools and students in the north-east of the country following a fresh attack by unknown gunmen that left dozens dead, Amnesty International said.

    “Since 2012, we have seen an escalation of lethal attacks against students and schools. On top of the tragic loss of life children are being prevented from accessing education. It is high time for the authorities not only to investigate these deplorable incidents and take those responsible to justice but to take measures to prevent them,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    The attack took place at around 1:00 am on Sunday when gunmen entered the compound of the College of Agriculture in Yobe state and opened fire on students.

    Several individuals told Amnesty International the attackers ordered students to assemble and then opened fire on them.

    One resident of Damaturu said that on Sunday they counted 62 bodies at the Sani Abacha General Hospital mortuary in Damaturu, Yobe state.

    August 15, 2013

    Calls for truth, justice and reparation by victims of the devastating Aceh conflict are gathering momentum despite serious remaining challenges, Amnesty International said as it published a briefing to mark the eighth anniversary of the conflict’s end.

    The briefing, No Peace without Justice, examines how countless victims and family members in Aceh are still left without knowing the truth about the conflict, and highlights a number of cases of human rights violations by the security forces.

    At the same time there have been some positive developments in addressing the conflict’s legacy, such as a new, potentially key investigation by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) into human rights violations by security forces in Aceh.

    August 07, 2013

    “All my extended family lived here, we had 10 houses. My mother was badly injured and is now in hospital in Turkey. She does not know that her sons are dead. My uncle, Mohamed Ali, lost 27 members of his family. He has lost his mind; he doesn’t know anything anymore. He is in the countryside; everyone who survived has gone to stay with relatives or friends somewhere. Here, there is only rubble left. ” - Hussein al-Saghir, 15-year-old boy telling Amnesty International about his 16 relatives killed in a ballistic missile strike in the Jabal Badro district of Aleppo on February 18, 2013.

    “Yousef, 7, Mohammed, 5, Ali, 2, Hamza, 12, Zahra, 10, Husna, 8, Fatima, 10, Ahmad, 7, Abdel Karim, 2, Hassan, 18 months…..Why did they bomb here? … There were only civilians here.  Our quarter was full of life, children playing everywhere.  Now we are all dead, even those of us who are alive are dead inside, we have all been buried under this rubble.” - Sara al-Wawi, who lost some 20 relatives in an air strike in the al-Marje’s area of Aleppo on   March 18, 2013 telling Amnesty International about some of the children killed in the attack.

    July 26, 2013

    Civilians in the vicinity of opposition fighters’ bases in the governorate of Tartous are at risk of summary execution by pro-government forces, Amnesty International said. Following the deliberate killing of 13 members of the same family in the village of al-Baydah, the organization urges the Syrian government to immediately end all extrajudicial executions.

    “The killing of 13 civilians from the same family, including women and children in one village is deplorable,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director.

    The bodies of three brothers were found with bullet wounds just outside their home in the western Syrian village last weekend. Four female relatives and six children between the ages of two and 13 were found dead inside the house. The killings took place shortly after pro-government forces clashed with opposition fighters close to the family home.

    The incident came three months after mass killings of more than 250 civilians last May in the same village and the nearby city of Banias.

    May 30, 2013

    The killing of 24 people, including three senior politicians and eight police personnel, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on 25 May could further escalate violence in the state, putting more civilians - including local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities - at risk, Amnesty International has warned.

    “We unequivocally condemn the taking of hostages and murder of civilians in Chhattisgarh, which constitute serious human rights abuses,” said Shashikumar Velath, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International India.

    According to the police, around 250 heavily armed Maoists ambushed a convoy of senior leaders of the Congress party on the Jagdalpur-Sukma highway in Bastar, triggered a blast in two vehicles and fired indiscriminately. The attackers shot dead, among other Congress leaders, former Home Minister of the state Mahendra Karma, the state Congress President Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh. Patel and his son were allegedly taken hostage before they were killed. The attack also wounded 33 people, including former Union Minister V. C. Shukla. The police say that one policeman is still missing.

    May 24, 2013

     

    The African Union (AU) must throw out the resolution tabled by the Kenyan government calling for the International Criminal Court's (ICC) case to be referred for trial in Kenya, Amnesty International has urged.

    President Kenyatta and Vice-President Ruto are accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the violence which followed the disputed December 2007 election and left more than 1,000 people dead and half a million displaced. The crimes set out in the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC include murder, forcible transfer of population, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts.

    “The African Union must reject Kenya’s attempts to shield its leaders from being held to account for the human rights violations that took place in Kenya in 2007-2008,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

    May 21, 2013

    Guatemala's Constitutional Court on Monday overturned the recent conviction and sentencing of former military ruler Efrain Rios Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity.

    "Monday's ruling is a devastating blow for the victims of the serious human rights violations committed during the conflict," said Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International's researcher on Guatemala.

    "The legal basis for the ruling is unclear, and it is uncertain how the trial court can hit the reset button to get back to a point in mid-April.  What is clear is that the Constitutional Court has just thrown up formidable obstacles to justice and accountability for a harrowing period in Guatemala's recent history.  

    "With the sentence on 10 May, the trial court had sent a strong signal that crimes against thousands of Mayan victims would not be tolerated. The Constitutional Court has now questioned that message, putting the right to truth, justice and reparation at risk in Guatemala."

     

    May 10, 2013

    The conviction of Guatemala’sex-president General Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity during his time in office is a historic step in the nation’s long struggle for justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Gen.Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted and sentenced to 80 years for his role as the intellectual author of the killings of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department in 1982 and 1983 in the midst of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.

    Gen.José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, General Ríos Montt’s head of intelligence during his time in power, was found not guilty on the same charges.

    “With this conviction,Guatemala leads by example in a region where entrenched impunity for past crimes sadly remains the norm,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala Researcher at Amnesty International.

    May 10, 2013

    The verdict in the genocide trial against former Guatemalan military ruler Efraín Ríos Montt is expected later today on Friday, 10 May.

    He faces up to 75 years of imprisonment on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for a series of massacres committed by the Guatemalan military in March 1982 till August 1983 in the area known as Ixil triangle. It was one of the bloodiest chapters in the country’s internal armed conflict, which lasted 36 years and resulted in the killings or disappearances of more than 200,000 people – many of them indigenous.

    Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala will be available over the weekend to comment on the verdict of this historic trial, the first to hold a Central American  former head of state to account for gross human rights violations.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332
     

    Background Information:

    March 22, 2013

    Amnesty International called on all parties to the Syrian armed conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and end attacks which target or indiscriminately kill and injure civilians after dozens were killed and injured in an explosion in a Damascus mosque on 21 March 2013.

    Among those reported killed in the mosque was a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric Mohammad al-Bouti, a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

    The official state news agency, SANA, stated that 49 people were killed when “a suicide terrorist…blew himself up while scholar Dr. Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti was giving a religious lesson at al-Iman Mosque in al-Mazraa area”.

    The head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Moaz al-Khatib, told the AFP news agency that “we categorically condemn the assassination”.

    Amnesty International condemned the bombing and reminded the parties to the conflict that targeting civilians and places of worship are war crimes.

    March 14, 2013

    Khmer Rouge Tribunal proceedings must continue without unnecessary delays, Amnesty International said following the death of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary.

    Ieng Sary, 87, was standing trial for alleged crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes carried out during the period of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia in the 1970s.

    The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, known also as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, announced his death on Thursday morning. The two remaining accused in the case, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, are both over 77 years old.

    Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, said:

    “The news of Ieng Sary’s death will be difficult for the victims of the Khmer Rouge crimes who have waited so long for justice.

    “But Ieng Sary should not be presumed guilty of the crimes alleged, as the proceedings against him were not completed and there has been no verdict.

    “Amnesty International calls for an expeditious trial of the two remaining accused in this case, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, with fair trial rights respected.

    March 01, 2013

    The presence of former Haitian “president for life” Jean-Claude Duvalier in court yesterday on charges relating to human rights abuses brings a glimmer of hope for the families of those subjected to extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and the survivors of torture during Duvalier’s years in power, said Amnesty International.

    The hearing was suspended after five hours and will be continued on Thursday 7 March.

    The Court of Appeal did not make a decision on whether to try Duvalier for serious human rights violations.

    “The fact that Duvalier was actually present this time gives some hope of the capacity of the Haitian justice system to deal with sensitive cases,” said Javier Zúñiga, special adviser for Amnesty International. “However, the road to justice is a long one.”

    On 21 February – when Duvalier failed to show up to court for the third time - the Court of Appeal asked the Public Prosecutor to bring the former leader in for the next hearing under the threat of being imprisoned if he failed to appear again.  

    February 26, 2013

    A repressive cycle of widespread human rights violations by the armed forces pursuing former President Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters is making reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire ever more elusive, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The national army, set up by President Alassane Ouattara in order to integrate forces loyal to the former President in the wake of the 2010 post-election violence which led to nearly 3,000 deaths, was supposed to ensure “the safety of person and property without distinction” and “be a powerful instrument for national cohesion”.

    But the truth behind this public gloss is that this new national army, along with an armed militia of traditional hunters - the Dozos - are carrying out extra-judicial executions, deliberate and arbitrary killings, politically motivated arrests and torture. They are acting with almost total impunity under the pretence of ensuring security and fighting against perpetrators of armed attacks.

    February 22, 2013

    Former President Jean-Claude Duvalier must either face a court hearing over charges of human rights abuses or be arrested, Amnesty International said amid fears he may flee the country using a newly-granted diplomatic passport.

    On Thursday Duvalier- also known as “Baby Doc”- refused for the third time, to face court. The judge of the Court of Appeal has rescheduled for 28 February and instructed the Public Prosecutor to bring him to that hearing.

    Yesterday’s hearing was due to examine an appeal brought by victims of human rights violations against the January 2012 decision by an investigative judge not to put Duvalier on trial for violations of human rights so serious they amount to crimes against humanity– including torture, killings and disappearances committed during his time in office.

    “Jean-Claude Duvalier cannot be beyond the reach of justice,” said Béatrice Vaugrante, an Amnesty International delegate who was present at the hearing.

    February 19, 2013

    An Amnesty International expert will be observing the hearing in the case against Haitian former President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier on Thursday 21 February.

    The hearing is to assess an appeal brought by victims of human rights violations against the decision of an investigative judge in January 2011 not to try Duvalier for crimes against humanity.

    The court will hear evidence of Duvalier’s alleged responsibility for the widespread human rights violations that took place during his time in office, between 1971 and 1986 – including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

    Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011 after 25 years in exile in France.

    Béatrice Vaugrante is the director Amnesty International’s office in Canada (francophone branch) and has been closely following the proceedings surrounding Duvalier’s prosecution.

    Vaugrante is available for interviews in French and English on: +1 514 814-2800.

     

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