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Human Rights Abuses

    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.”

    March 14, 2014

    International human rights monitors must immediately be deployed across Ukraine following reports of increasing violence and disappearances ahead of Sunday’s impromptu referendum that could lead to the secession of the southern Crimea region, said Amnesty International.

    “Parts of the country are on edge and spilling over into violence. With the referendum scheduled in two days’ time, there is no time to lose,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “Amidst heightened tensions in the country and the now fatal violence between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian groups, the need for a strong human rights monitoring mission with unimpeded access to all parts of Ukraine, including Crimea, is critical.”
     
    Amnesty International’s call comes after at least one protester was killed amid violent clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters in the eastern city of Donetsk and news of further disappearances of activists in Crimea itself.

    March 13, 2014

    The death toll of at least 25 after a month of massive public demonstrations for and against the government in Venezuela will keep rising unless all sides commit to human rights, Amnesty International said following three new deaths on Wednesday.

    A policeman, a student and a third man died yesterday in separate incidents in Valencia, the country’s third-largest city, 170km west of Caracas.

    “In such a polarized political context the bloodshed will only continue unless the government and its supporters, as well as the various political opposition groups commit to fully respecting human rights,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director of Amnesty International Americas Program.

    “Specifically, all parties should roundly condemn any acts of violence against political opponents. The authorities must do their utmost to prevent these attacks and to ensure that anyone responsible for such acts is brought to justice.”

    President Nicolás Maduro has told his supporters that after a meeting of his Security Cabinet today he will announce “extraordinary measures” aimed at putting an end to the ongoing protests.

    March 11, 2014

    The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop the use of excessive and unlawful force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, after a student died of gunshot wounds sustained during a demonstration at the University of Khartoum.

    Ali Abaker Mussa Idris, a third-year economics student, died in hospital after security forces used tear gas and opened fire with live ammunition to disperse a protest he was taking part in at the university this afternoon. Another student has been severely injured, and a further 110 students were reportedly arrested at the protest, which was against a recent surge in violence in Darfur that has left an estimated 50,000 people displaced.

    “Credible accounts by eyewitnesses at the University of Khartoum protest point to police and Sudanese intelligence (NISS) officers using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force in violation of international law and standards,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director of Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International.

    March 06, 2014

    Presidential candidates must champion, not sideline, human rights, Amnesty International said today in an agenda for change aimed at candidates campaigning ahead of the 5 April vote.

    “There have been undeniable human rights improvements in Afghanistan over the past decade, but the situation is still bleak for millions across the country. Conflict-related violations and appalling levels of violence against women and girls are just two of the issues that must top the agenda for the next administration,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Candidates cannot afford to treat human rights as a second-string issue. Any more trading away of rights in Afghanistan for short-term gain will move the country backwards rather than forwards after 2014,”

    Almost complete impunity for past human rights abuses and war crimes persists in Afghanistan. Many of those now running for president or vice-president are facing serious allegations of complicity in such crimes.

    February 28, 2014

    Members of the UN Security Council, including France, the US and UK must throw their full weight behind proposals to tackle the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), said Amnesty International.

    The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to present his assessment report on the possible transformation of the African-led peacekeeping force in CAR into a UN peacekeeping mission before 5 March.

    “It is urgent that the Security Council authorizes this UN peacekeeping operation. They must be given a robust mandate to protect civilians,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director Research and Advocacy.

    Amnesty International’s successive missions to CAR have revealed how the African led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) is under-resourced and ill equipped.  Its poor coordination with French troops (Sangari’s) has failed to end the killings of civilians and the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community from large parts of the country.

    “Current efforts to tackle the crisis are far from adequate and the new UN mission must have the capability to tackle this crisis,” said Belay.

    February 26, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 27 February 2014

    Israel’s security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, describes mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.

    In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes.

    February 26, 2014
    Ukraine's Berkut riot police were responsible for many instances of use of excessive force amid the recent protests. © Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

    All those responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people killed during the anti-government protests in Ukraine must be brought to justice, said Amnesty International today.

    The call comes as plans were announced to disband the riot police unit that were allegedly responsible for the excessive force used against protesters.

    “Moves to disband the riot police must not be used to allow the perpetrators of crimes off the hook. The Ukrainian authorities must not shirk their responsibility,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s Ukraine researcher.

    “Each and every allegation must be investigated promptly, effectively and independently and any police officers found to be responsible must face criminal prosecution.”

    February 25, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT  26 February 2014

    The Sri Lankan government’s targeting of critics persists at alarming levels, with more surveillance and harassment reported ahead of next month’s UN Human Rights Council (HRC) session, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    Suppressing calls for justice, examines the Sri Lankan authorities’ intolerance of dissent and its attacks on critics over the past six months, either directly or through proxies that range from security forces to supporters of Buddhist-nationalist groups and even immigration officials.

    “The pattern of harassment, surveillance and attacks against those opposing the Sri Lankan authorities is deeply disturbing and shows no sign of letting up,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia- Pacific Director.

    “Repression usually intensifies whenever Sri Lanka’s human rights situation is in focus internationally, something we are already seeing ahead of the UN Human Rights Council next month.”

    February 20, 2014

    The shooting of protesters, which is contributing to the spiralling death toll in Kyiv, is deeply troubling and must prompt a swift response to bring all those responsible to justice, Amnesty International urged.

    According to the Ministry of Health, at least 35 people have been killed as a result of the rapid escalation in violence in the past 48 hours, especially in the area around Kyiv’s Maidan Square. The violence has been carried out by some protesters as well as security forces. The Ministry of Interior has separately reported that 20 police officers have died.  

    There is growing evidence from across Ukraine of vigilante groups colluding with the police and reports they may have been responsible for some of the shootings. A number of protesters, medical personnel and journalists clearly not posing a threat to riot police, have been fired on from a distance.   

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