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Human Rights Abuses

    May 07, 2014

    The Chinese authorities must immediately release all those detained for trying to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, Amnesty International said, following a spate of detentions in the past week.

    At least five prominent activists have been detained in Beijing, while several others have been questioned by police, as the authorities attempt to supress critics ahead of the 25th anniversary on 4 June.  

    “These latest detentions show how far the authorities are prepared to go to silence those that seek to remember the 1989 crackdown,” said Anu Kultalahti, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Twenty-five years on the authorities have once again chosen the path of repression rather than accept the need for an open discussion about what happened in 1989.” said Kultalahti.

    On Tuesday, Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent human rights lawyer, was criminally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels”, after he attended a weekend seminar in Beijing that called for an investigation into the 4 June crackdown.

    April 29, 2014

    Failure of the Iraqi authorities to tackle an alarming spike in violence is exposing voters who wish to cast their ballots in the country’s parliamentary elections on 30 April to high risk of attack, said Amnesty International.

    In the latest attack on Friday, at least 31 people were killed and several more injured after a series of blasts targeted a political party’s election rally in Baghdad. These are the third parliamentary elections to be held since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but will be the first since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011.

    “Iraq has been plagued by spiraling violence over the past year resulting in the highest numbers of casualties in years,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “People should be able vote without fear of being deliberately targeted. It is the Iraqi authorities’ duty to ensure that people are able to participate in elections free from attacks by armed groups, intimidation by the security forces and any actions which will interfere with exercising their constitutional right to vote.”

    April 29, 2014

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decade in office has been marked by only patchy progress on human rights and Indonesia’s next leader must urgently tackle ongoing violations and repeal repressive and discriminatory laws, Amnesty International said today in a human rights agenda for Indonesia’s presidential candidates.

    With campaigning under way for Indonesia’s presidential election on 9 July 2014, the agenda covers eight key human rights issues that the new administration should tackle.

    “It is disappointing that during the campaigning period the candidates have so far mostly ignored human rights. Indonesia has come a long way over the past decade, but there are still serious challenges remaining that the candidates should address,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    There have been some human rights improvements during President Yudhoyono’s administration (2004-2014), including the introduction of new human rights regulations for policing as well as legal reforms strengthening witness protection.

    April 28, 2014

    The Mexican Congress must pass a reform of the Code of Military Justice that would see military personnel implicated in human rights violations against civilians face investigation and trial in the civilian justice system, Amnesty International said today.

    The proposed reform, approved last week by the Senate is due to be debated and voted this week by the Chamber of Deputies, just before the current legislative session ends.

    “The reform of the Code of Military Justice would be an historic move. The lack of independence and impartiality of the military justice system has ensured impunity until now, preventing justice for the victims of human rights violations committed by the Mexican military,” said Rupert Knox, Amnesty International’s researcher on Mexico.

    Over the years, Armed Forces personnel suspected of involvement in ill-treatment and torture, unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations, have routinely escaped justice.

    April 24, 2014

    All Ukrainian law enforcement and military officials engaged in an operation to restore security in eastern Ukraine must adhere to international standards on the use of force and firearms, Amnesty International urged today.

    The call comes after Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs posted a statement today saying that three checkpoints had been taken and five “terrorists were destroyed” by Ukrainian security forces attempting to regain control of Slovyansk, Donetsk region, from a pro-Russian armed group that has seized control.

    “International standards on the use of force and firearms are clear – law enforcement officials should resort to the use of firearms only in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury. They should apply other non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and the use of firearms must always be the last resort. When the use of force and firearms is unavoidable they must exercise restraint and take steps to minimize damage and injury and preserve life,” said Heather McGill, Ukraine Researcher at Amnesty International.

    April 04, 2014

    Egypt must overturn the convictions of three government critics sentenced to three years in jail for taking part in an “unauthorized” protest and immediately and unconditionally release them, Amnesty International said ahead of the prisoners’ appeal verdict.

    Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, both activists with the 6 April Youth Movement, and well-known blogger Ahmed Douma are the first Egyptians to be given jail terms for defying the country’s repressive protest law, adopted in November last year.

    The appeal court is expected to issue its final verdict on the activists’ three-year sentence on Monday.

    “Jailing government critics on trumped-up charges or for breaching the repressive protest law is part of the authorities’ ploy to silence dissenting voices and tighten their grip on the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Amnesty International.

    April 03, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 4 April 2014

    The modest human rights gains made over the past 12 years in Afghanistan are increasingly under threat with a resurgence of violence and women’s rights being degraded again, Amnesty International said today in an assessment of the rights record of President Hamid Karzai’s administration.

    Ahead of the presidential elections on 5 April, Amnesty International has published a scorecard that assesses the government’s performance on six key human rights issues since Karzai first assumed power in 2001.

    “Afghans will head to the polls on Saturday with the threat of violence hanging over them, but have shown they will not be intimidated. The Taliban’s promises to kill voters and election workers are beneath contempt – the authorities must make sure that polling stations and voters receive the protection they need,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    April 01, 2014
    So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured in Venezuela since protest started in early February.© Carlos Becerra

    Venezuela risks one of the worst threats to the rule of law in decades if the different political forces do not commit to fully respecting human rights, according to a new Amnesty International report on the current crisis in the country.
     
    The report, Venezuela: Human Rights at risk amid protests, documents allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the massive public demonstrations since early February.
     
    “The country runs the risk of descending into a spiral of violence unless steps are taken to bring the conflicting parties around the table. This can only happen if both sides fully respect human rights and the rule of law. Unless this happens, the death toll will continue to rise with ordinary people bearing the brunt,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
     

    March 28, 2014

    President Barack Obama must break the US administration’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record by taking a strong public stand against the systematic violations in the Kingdom during his visit there this week, said Amnesty International.

    The US president is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia today. His visit coincides with a local campaign calling for an end to the driving ban for women in the Kingdom. Amnesty International is asking President Obama to express his dismay at the discrimination against women by appointing a woman as his official driver during the visit.

    “It is crucial that President Obama sends a strong message to the government of Saudi Arabia that its gross human rights violations and systematic discrimination are unacceptable. A failure to do so would undermine the human rights principles the USA purports to stand for,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    March 26, 2014

    The Chinese authorities must immediately let the family of deceased activist Cao Shunli see her body, said Amnesty International, as fears grow the authorities will cremate Cao to destroy any evidence of her mistreatment in detention.

    Cao’s brother, Cao Yunli, and the family’s lawyer, Wang Yu were prevented from seeing her body when they visited 309 Military Hospital in Beijing on Wednesday.

    Hospital staff claimed that Cao’s body was no longer being held there and refused to disclose any further details. Officials also rejected requests by the family for copies of Cao’s medical records.

    “It appears the authorities will stop at nothing to hide what really happened to Cao Shunli. This has all the markings of a cover-up on the part of the authorities,’ said Anu Kultalahti, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    Cao died from organ failure on 14 March at the hospital after six months in detention. Repeated requests by Cao’s family for her to receive medical treatment for serious health problems were repeatedly denied.

    March 26, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must immediately put into action its plans to deploy peacekeeping troops to protect civilians in the Central African Republic amid a worrying new surge in violence, Amnesty International said today.

    Areas of the capital Bangui have increasingly come under the control of anti-balaka militias, who have in recent days launched repeated attacks on civilians and African Union-led MISCA peacekeepers.

    “This flare-up in violence is cause for serious concern, given the backdrop of ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity across the Central African Republic since last December,” said Christian Mukosa, Central Africa Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “It is just further evidence of what Amnesty International has been saying for months – that the small contingent of peacekeeping troops on the ground will not be able to protect civilians effectively without more help from the international community.”

    March 25, 2014

    Colombia’s government is failing to address the country’s critical human rights situation said Amnesty International today ahead of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ annual review of the country.  

    Despite on-going peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group, human rights violations and abuses continue unabated.

    Tomorrow, High Commissioner Navi Pillay will present her annual review of the situation in Colombia to the UN Human Rights Council.

    “The peace talks represent the best opportunity in over a decade to put an end to the 50-year-old armed conflict. However, the warring parties continue to be responsible for appalling serious human rights violations and abuses. These include forced displacement, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, abductions, and enforced disappearances,” said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s researcher on Colombia.

    March 19, 2014

    Saudi Arabia’s decision to accept numerous recommendations to improve its human rights record during its United Nations Human Rights Council review session in Geneva today, are unlikely to put an end to grave violations and discrimination or lead to justice and redress for victims, said Amnesty International.

    “Until Saudi Arabia’s actions match its words the Kingdom’s dire reputation as a grave violator of human rights is unlikely to change,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Saudi Arabia must prove that its acceptance of these recommendations is more than a mere public relations exercise designed to deflect criticism of its human rights record.”

    Although Saudi Arabia fully accepted a majority of the recommendations made to it during the review of its human rights record, it rejected crucial recommendations to ratify core international treaties including those that would safeguard the rights of women and grant victims access to justice.

    March 19, 2014

    The Sri Lankan government’s ongoing dirty tactics to silence and smear dissidents are a brazen attempt to deflect criticism as the country faces fresh scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Amnesty International said today.

    The Council is due to vote next week on a resolution calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka during the protracted and bloody internal armed conflict with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). Since the end of the conflict in May 2009, the government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa has pursued a crackdown on its critics.

    “Sri Lanka must put an end to the campaign of intimidation and dirty tactics against outspoken human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and families of the disappeared,” said Peter Splinter, Amnesty International Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

    March 18, 2014

    The Papua New Guinea authorities must carry out an independent investigation into alleged brutality by a police dog squad, after a graphic video depicted a seemingly defenceless man being repeatedly attacked, said Amnesty International.

    In the film, which has been shared on social media, the man is seen sitting on the ground, surrounded by officers holding three leashed dogs as they lunge and attack him. 

    While the footage has not yet been verified, it raises serious concerns about torture and other ill-treatment by police.

    “This appalling incident raises serious questions about police brutality,” said Roseann Rife, spokesperson for Amnesty International.

    “The Papua New Guinea authorities must act on this shocking footage and immediately initiate an independent investigation. Torture is unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible must be brought to justice.

    “The seriousness of this incident is highlighted by this man’s humiliation and his screams of pain. It is difficult to watch.”

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