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Crimes Against Humanity

    February 18, 2013

    The Pakistan authorities must do more to protect the persecuted Shi’a Hazara minority community, Amnesty International said following a devastating attack in Quetta that killed scores.

    On Saturday 17 February, at least 84 people, mostly Shi’a Hazaras, were killed when a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

    The bombing was claimed by the anti-Shi’a armed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). LeJ also claimed responsibility for a series of bombings targeting Hazaras in Quetta on 10 January 2013 that claimed more than 90 lives.

    “These attacks demonstrate Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s utter disregard for human rights and basic principles of humanity,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Also shocking is the continued failure of the authorities to bring to justice any of those responsible for committing these killings, or inciting others to carry them out.”

    To Amnesty International’s knowledge, no one has been prosecuted for the January 2013 attacks or other targeted killings of Hazaras in recent years.

    January 29, 2013

    Yesterday’s ruling that General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of military intelligence, General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, should stand trial for the massacre of almost two thousand people in the 1980s is a crucial step towards justice, truth and reparation, Amnesty International said today.

    Ríos Montt, who held power from March 1982 to August 1983, and Rodríguez Sánchez will be tried for their alleged responsibility over the deaths of the mainly Mayan villagers in a series of massacres during that period.

    “This decision strengthens justice in Guatemala, as accountability for past crimes begins to emerge,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International researcher on Central America.

    “What is important is to ensure justice, truth and reparation for the families and victims of thousands of other human rights violations.

    A 1999 UN-backed truth commission found that during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996) some 200,000 people were killed or disappeared.

    January 17, 2013

    Protests against alleged killings by Pakistan’s armed forces have taken place across the Tribal Areas, as Amnesty International called on the authorities to investigate and bring anyone identified as responsible for unlawful killings to justice in fair trials.

    Yesterday protesters gathered outside the residence of the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Peshawar Press Club after 18 bodies were found dumped across Barra district of Khyber Tribal Agency the previous day, 15 January.

    Relatives claim the 18 people were shot dead by soldiers of the Frontier Corp, part of the Pakistan armed forces, either during or after raids on their homes. The victims include seven members of the same family.

    November 27, 2012

    By Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme

    Damage to an apartment building in Rishon LeZion, outside Tel Aviv, from rockets fired from Gaza © Amnesty International.


    It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.

    Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.

    November 20, 2012


    Madagascar’s rampaging security forces must be brought under control in the south of the country, Amnesty International said after widespread state killings of civilians over cattle theft, and a failure to protect hundreds from mass communal murder.

    Official sources have claimed that ongoing ‘Operation Tandroka’, which started in September, has seen 40 cattle thieves (dahalos) killed and 76 arrested in the southern region of Anosy. Cattle-rustling gangs reportedly killed 14 state security officers earlier in the year. 

    However, witnesses have told Amnesty International that elderly people, the physically disabled, children, and others unable to flee their homes were burned alive when security forces indiscriminately set fire to villages as part of the military operation.

    “We are hearing of punishment and persecution of individuals and communities in the south which could amount to human rights abuses on an appalling scale,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Researcher, who has just returned from Madagascar.

    November 14, 2012

    The UN failed to protect civilians during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict according its own report, released today, prompting Amnesty International to renew its call for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

    The Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, submitted to Ban Ki-moon and made public today, offers a strong indictment of the UN’s response to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.

    It deals with a period of conflict in Sri Lanka when very grave violations of international law are alleged and where effective UN action might have averted some of the worst of the violations.

    Instead the text describes a scenario where UN officials repeatedly failed civilians they were entrusted protect, while ignoring or downplaying mounting evidence of war crimes compiled by their own staff as they struggled to appease Sri Lankan authorities intent on restricting humanitarian space.  

    November 01, 2012

    New video evidence emerged on Thursday which appears to show an armed group in Syria’s Idlib province carrying out a mass summary killing of men in their custody.

    In the footage – which is reported to be from a checkpoint near Saraqeb in Idlib province – at least 10 men, who some believe are captured members of the security forces, are beaten and kicked before members of the armed group open fire on them. It is unknown how many were killed in the incident, but media outlets and a Syrian NGO have suggested that at least 28 died.
    Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director said:

    “This shocking footage depicts a potential war crime in progress, and demonstrates an utter disregard for international humanitarian law by the armed group in question.

    November 01, 2012

    (Abuja) The brutal actions of Nigeria's security forces in response to Boko Haram's campaign of terror are making an already desperate situation even worse, Amnesty International said in a report released today. 

    The report, Nigeria: Trapped in the cycle of violence, documents the atrocities carried out by Boko Haram as well as the serious human rights violations carried out by the security forces in response, including enforced disappearance, torture, extrajudicial executions, the torching of homes and detention without trial.

    “The cycle of attack and counter-attack has been marked by unlawful violence on both sides, with devastating consequences for the human rights of those trapped in the middle,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “People are living in a climate of fear and insecurity, vulnerable to attack from Boko Haram and facing human rights violations at the hands of the very state security forces which should be protecting them.”

    October 18, 2012

    A year on from the capture and killing of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan authorities to hand over immediately the former ruler’s military intelligence chief to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.

    Despite an ICC arrest warrant for Abdullah al-Senussi being active since June 2011, he was extradited back to Libya on 5 September after being arrested in Mauritania in March of this year.

    Amnesty International is concerned that since his incarceration in Libya, it appears no independent organizations, relatives or his lawyers have had access to him.

    Al-Senussi’s case is symptomatic of a wider situation in Libya of a justice system in disarray.

    “A year after the end of hostilities, victims of serious human rights abuses – by the former government as well as its opponents – have yet to see justice. What we witness today in Libya is revenge and not justice,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2012

    The Congolese government must take urgent steps to stop the violence in the east of the country and hold to account all who have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty International said, as the DRC prepares to host a major gathering of Francophone leaders.
    The Francophonie Summit – a biennial gathering of French speaking nations - will be hosted from the 12 -14 October in Kinshasa, as violence in the east is escalating, resulting in widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    “Human rights abuses continue unabated and with total impunity,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    An Amnesty International delegation has recently returned from eastern DRC, where delegates documented cases of rape, summary killings, forced recruitment of civilians including children, looting and illegal taxation by different armed groups.

    September 19, 2012

    Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

    The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

    September 14, 2012

    The Egyptian government should immediately withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and arrest him if he travels to Cairo, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Al-Bashir is due to meet President Mohamed Morsi and other top Egyptian officials as part of a two-day visit beginning on 16 September.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.

    “If Egypt welcomes Omar Al-Bashir it will become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”, said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager.

    “Egypt should not allow Omar Al-Bashir to enter its territory, and must arrest him if he arrives.”

    September 14, 2012

    Countries neighbouring Syria must ensure that refugees who are stranded on their borders are allowed to find sanctuary, Amnesty International said.

    The organization wrote to the Turkish and Iraqi authorities calling on them to open all border crossings to refugees from Syria, after both nations continued to prevent access to safety for those fleeing the escalating violence by delaying entry to their territories.

     “Civilians have born the brunt of large-scale crimes against humanity, war crimes and other human rights abuses committed in Syria, and any obstacles or delays in allowing refugees to reach a place of safety would place them at risk of further serious human rights abuses in breach of international law," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Amnesty International calls upon countries neighbouring Syria to keep their borders open to those fleeing the conflict, and urges all countries in the region and elsewhere to ensure they do not force anyone to return.

    September 11, 2012

    The Iraqi authorities must urgently launch a thorough, impartial investigation into a wave of bomb attacks and shootings across Iraq on Sunday which reportedly killed at least 81 people, many of them civilians, and left scores more injured, Amnesty International said.

    The apparently coordinated attacks in multiple cities appear to have targeted Iraqi civilians. Members of the security and armed forces also seemed to have been targeted. Car bomb explosions in several, predominantly Shi’a areas were among the deadliest attacks. 

    “This horrific wave of attacks shows an utter disregard for humanity – the Iraqi authorities must ensure an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation is carried out and those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 04, 2012

    Guatemalan ex-officials who fled to Europe to escape allegations of involvement in extrajudicial executions must face justice, Amnesty International said today.

    On Monday night a court in Geneva ordered that Erwin Sperisen – Guatemala’s former National Director of Police – remain for at least three months in administrative detention as he faces trial for murder charges stemming from his time in that role from 2004 to 2007.

    Swiss authorities had arrested Sperisen – who cannot be extradited to Guatemala because he also holds Swiss nationality – on Friday, 31 August. He faces charges linked to a number of alleged extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the Guatemalan police force under his command.

    Other Guatemalan former officials believed to be in Europe – including in Austria and Spain – have yet to be held to account for alleged crimes committed in the Central American country.


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