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Human Rights Abuses

    December 20, 2013

    Warring factions in South Sudan must immediately rein in their troops to prevent further attacks on civilians, Amnesty International said amid violence that has erupted across the country.

    There is mounting evidence that troops and armed civilians from South Sudan’s two largest communities, the Dinka and Nuer, are carrying out targeted killings of civilians based on their ethnic background.

    Three United Nations peacekeepers were also reportedly killed on Thursday when armed Nuer youths in Akobo, Jonglei state, forced their way into a peacekeeping base sheltering Dinka civilians.

    “Attacks on civilians seeking shelter from fighting is a shocking development in this increasingly vicious conflict,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The fact that these attacks were carried out by armed youths is a disturbing sign that this conflict is moving beyond fighting between soldiers and into widespread inter-communal violence.”

    Fighting originated in the capital Juba on Sunday but has since spread to other parts of the country including Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest state.

    December 19, 2013

    The struggle of the LGBTI * community in Jamaica challenging the society for their rights, the descent into chaos in Syria examined through voices inside the country, and the plight of refugees in Australia and Thailand are issues explored in three excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s nineteenth annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.

    Jennifer Quinn is the winner this year in national print for her feature article “A dangerous place to be gay” about the community in Jamaica that constantly faces violence and intolerance, published in the Sunday Star in Toronto August 11 2013. Traveling to the island, Jennifer Quinn interviews gay and lesbian individuals and activists and examines their efforts to change the situation with a landmark court challenge.

    December 16, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT 17 December 2013

    China’s abolition of the “Re-education Through Labour” (RTL) system risks being no more than a cosmetic change, with authorities already stepping up other forms of persecution, Amnesty International said in a briefing released today.

    While RTL camps are being shut down, the briefing details how the Chinese authorities are increasingly making use of so-called “black jails”, enforced drug rehabilitation centres, and “brainwashing centres” to take their place.

    “Abolishing the RTL system is a step in the right direction. However, it now appears that it may only be a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    “It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”

    December 16, 2013

    The UAE authorities must stop their cruel campaign of harassment against the families of prisoners convicted on vague “national security” charges, Amnesty International said ahead of a second trial against 10 of the prisoners that is set to resume tomorrow.

    Some relatives of the 69 government critics, who were jailed after a mass trial in July, told Amnesty International they have been bullied, threatened and stigmatized by the authorities in a bid to silence their pleas for justice.

    “These prisoners were jailed following a grossly unfair trial in which there was no right of appeal, and now their families are also being targeted in their daily lives,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The UAE authorities must end this shameful and vindictive campaign of persecution. Prisoners’ families must not be punished for seeking justice for their relatives.”

    December 12, 2013

    The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council must act urgently and clarify its plans to deploy the new African-led peacekeeping mission to tackle the spiraling human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today.

    A week has passed since the UN Security Council unanimously authorized the transition of an existing central African states force on the ground to protect civilians into a one-year African-led peacekeeping mission joined by French peacekeepers.

    In a letter, Amnesty International has urged the AU Peace and Security Council to break its silence and spell out the concrete action it is taking urgently to put forces on the ground and ensure effective protection of civilians.

    “A clear plan and concrete action are urgently needed from the African Union to prevent the crisis in Central African Republic spiraling completely out of control,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    December 12, 2013

    Turkmenistan’s authorities have simply paid lip service to reform in a bid to appease the international community said Amnesty International in the run up to parliamentary elections this weekend (15 December).

    “Holding these elections will not address the atmosphere of total repression, denial of the basic human rights, and the all-permeating fear that has gripped society in Turkmenistan for years, and all pretence of progress on human rights is simply deceitful,” John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    In 2012, the authorities in the strategically placed oil and gas rich country pushed through reforms which they claimed would lead to the establishment of a second political party. It also allowed, in theory, for an independent media.

    “Recent reforms amount to no more than token gestures designed to distract the international community. Eager foreign investors should not be fooled by these moves or use them to justify uncritical engagement.” said John Dalhuisen.

    December 09, 2013

    Central African Republic: International community must ensure effective  protection of civilians

    The civilian population of the Central African Republic is in urgent need of protection, Amnesty International said today from the capital Bangui, four days into the worst spate of violence in the conflict to date.

    The organization has seen scores of dead bodies in the city's central morgue and visited some of the many sites where an estimated 60,000 people have sought refuge across Bangui. Similar scenes are reportedly playing out in Bossangoa and elsewhere in the country.

    “The high number of people fleeing their homes in search of a safe refuge attests to the widespread fear and deep insecurity that has spread across Bangui neighbourhoods,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa expert, currently in Bangui.

    The number of people seeking sanctuary at these sites increases at night when even more people leave their homes to hide in church compounds and other perceived areas of safety, as the likelihood of attack is higher in their areas.

    December 05, 2013

    Soldiers patrol on December 5, 2013 in a street of Bangui as shots rang out.(c)SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Image

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    Revenge killings are being reported across Bangui and other parts of the Central African Republic today in the aftermath of the military clashes that happened in the early hours of the morning, Amnesty International said today.

    December 05, 2013

    The international community must give peacekeepers in the Central African Republic all the means necessary to protect civilians or risk an escalation in atrocities that could spill over to neighbouring countries, Amnesty International warned as the UN Security Council authorized deployment of an African Union (AU) force.

    The UN vote – which came just hours after clashes erupted overnight in the capital Bangui – authorizes deployment of  AU and French troops to protect civilians, restore law and order and end the spiraling human rights violations and abuses.

    “The lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians hang in the balance, made brutally clear by these attacks on the capital. The international community must do everything in its power to ensure these troops can effectively protect civilians and restore order to the Central African Republic,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    December 04, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 5 December 2013

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    North Korea’s vast infrastructure of repression is further exposed in new satellite images showing the on-going development of two of the country’s largest political prison camps, Amnesty International discloses today.

    In a comprehensive assessments of camps 15 and 16 - known as kwanliso - Amnesty International found new housing blocks, an expansion of production facilities, and continued tight security.

    The analysis, along with newly released testimonies, is included in Amnesty International’s latest briefing North Korea: Continued Investment in the Infrastructure of Repression. 

    A former security official at kwanliso 16 – the largest political prison camp in North Korea – has never spoken publicly before. He describes detainees being forced to dig their own graves and women being raped and then disappearing.

    December 04, 2013

    Canadians supporting Amnesty International’s work will join thousands of others around the world to Write for Rights around Wednesday December 10. The annual activity is now the world’s largest letter-writing event. Last year, Amnesty International members in more than 80 countries wrote almost two million letters, tweets and texts. The letters aim to save lives, stop torture, free prisoners of conscience and show solidarity.

    Individuals write letters based on 9 cases come from every continent and cover a wide range of different human rights issues:

    December 02, 2013

    The Bulgarian authorities must send a clear message that they will take all necessary measures to curb the growing spate of attacks against refugees and migrants on the streets of the capital Sofia, Amnesty International said.

    The call comes after two Syrian men in their 20s and 30s were injured in a violent attack in Sofia’s Sugar Factory district last night. A third man targeted in the attack reportedly escaped unscathed. It is the seventh such assault on the city’s streets since the beginning of November 2013.

    “So far, instead of investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these violent attacks to justice, the Bulgarian authorities have sought to downplay them as run-of-the-mill muggings and crimes. Bulgaria is obliged under international law to thoroughly investigate any possible hate motive behind these crimes. Hate crimes are an affront to human dignity,” said Jezerca Tigani, a Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia Program of Amnesty International.

    November 30, 2013

    Released 11:00 am GMT 30 November 2013

    The Malian authorities must immediately release five children that have been detained in a military detention centre for over seven months, says Amnesty International today as it releases a Human Rights Agenda for Mali, in the country’s capital.

    An Amnesty International delegation, led by the Secretary General, Salil Shetty, met the five children between the ages of 15 and 17 in the military detention centre (Gendarmerie Camp) in Bamako.

    One of the five children is a child soldier who joined the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO). The other four were arrested because of their suspected links to armed groups. 

    “We were horrified to see these traumatised young boys detained in poor conditions, along with adults,” says Salil Shetty. “This is a clear violation of national and international law and they must be released immediately”.

    “Children should rarely, if ever, be held in detention. In all actions concerning children the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration.”

    November 25, 2013

    The UN must take full account of the human catastrophe of epic proportions unfolding in the Central African Republic (CAR) when considering the options presented by the UN Secretary-General on peacekeeping in that country, Amnesty International said.

    The situation is worsening on a daily basis in CAR, with extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls widely committed with total impunity by members of the security forces and armed groups alike.

    “The crisis is spinning out of control, despite the fact that it has been ignored by the international community for far too long,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “People are dying in the Central African Republic as we speak, and action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. There is no time to delay.”

    November 25, 2013

    The Government of Zimbabwe must guarantee all human rights enshrined in the new Constitution, Amnesty International said in a Human Rights Agenda issued as President Robert Mugabe approaches the 100th day of his new term.

    In the report, Human Rights Agenda for the New Government – 2013 to 2018, the organization urges the Zimbabwean government to take significant steps to improve the country’s poor human rights record. It also must address impunity for past violations and provide remedies to victims.

    “There is no doubt that the new government will be judged on the basis of its human rights record and ability to improve the living conditions for everyone in the country,” says Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for the government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver justice for its people and to allow freedom of expression. With political will all that is possible.”

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