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Human Rights Abuses

    November 05, 2013

    Presidential candidates in Honduras must promise to address the dire human rights crisis in the country if there is any chance of putting an end to the escalating levels of violence, insecurity and impunity, said Amnesty International ahead of elections on 24 November.

    The organization has written to all eight presidential candidates urging them to set out their commitment to human rights.

    “The human rights situation in Honduras is dire and the future of the country hangs in the balance,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.

    “These elections could mark a turning point, and the presidential candidates must commit to concrete changes to stop the widespread human rights abuses and violations perpetrated against the people of Honduras.”

    The letter to presidential candidates details the deep human rights crisis in Honduras, including the consistent killings, physical attacks and threats against human rights defenders.

    October 28, 2013

    Allegations of abuse, including the use of electric shocks, against inmates in a privately run prison in South Africa raise serious questions about the authorities’ real commitment to tackle torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.

    “Unfortunately, these recent allegations of abuse against inmates in South Africa’s Mangaung prison are consistent with a long-standing pattern across the country, including disturbing levels of impunity for human rights abuses within South Africa’s prisons,” said Mary Rayner, South Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

    “That the South African authorities have reportedly launched an official investigation into the allegations is positive. The question now is whether they will actually bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparations to victims, as opposed to what has happened too many times in the past.”

    Amnesty International will continue to monitor the follow-up to these investigations.

    “Any investigation into the alleged abuses must be prompt, impartial and independent,” said Mary Rayner.

    October 23, 2013

    The Libyan authorities must urgently find a durable solution to end the continued forcible displacement of tens of thousands of Tawarghas and other communities, from their hometown during the armed conflict of 2011, said Amnesty International.

    The entire inhabitants of the town of Tawargha – some 40,000 people - were driven out by armed groups from Misratah who accused them of supporting Colonel al-Gaddafi’s government. An Amnesty International briefing Barred from their Home, published on the second anniversary of the end of the conflict, highlights the continued discrimination, abductions and arbitrary detention of the Tawargha, who still face threats and reprisal attacks at the hand of militias acting above the law.

    “Two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under resourced camps with no solution in sight,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    October 17, 2013

    Diplomats from Commonwealth countries meeting in London today must push Sri Lanka to end its continuing crackdown on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said.

    The Commonwealth Committee of the Whole is meeting 17-18 October to prepare for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in November.

    “Commonwealth countries must agree new measures to address the continuing human rights crisis in Sri Lanka and especially to monitor and condemn any civil society repression around CHOGM,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Program Director.

    “Sri Lanka has a disturbing record of repressing civil society activism. Its officials have intimidated, threatened and even attacked human rights defenders around previous international events. We are extremely worried about the safety of such activists around the summit in Colombo in November.”

    October 15, 2013

    The deaths of hundreds of people in detention facilities run by Nigeria’s military Joint Task Force (JTF) must be investigated as a matter of urgency, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International has received credible information from a senior officer in the Nigerian Army that over 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of 2013 alone. Most of the reported deaths occurred in facilities used by the military to detain people suspected of being members of or associated with the armed Islamist group Boko Haram.

    “The evidence we’ve gathered suggests that hundreds of people died in military custody in 2013 alone. This is a staggeringly high figure that requires urgent action by the Nigerian government,” said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director.

    “The details of what happens behind locked doors in these shadowy detention facilities must be exposed, and those responsible for any human rights violations brought to book.”

    October 14, 2013

    Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, health officials and wounded protesters  suggests security forces used live ammunition to disperse crowds of mostly peaceful demonstrators on 6 October, said Amnesty International.

    At least 49 people were killed and hundreds injured in Cairo alone, as security forces used excessive and unwarranted lethal force to disperse pro-Morsi protesters. According to eyewitnesses, in some instances, security forces stood by as men in civilian clothing armed with knives, swords or firearms attacked and clashed with demonstrators.

    “The Egyptian security forces patently failed to prevent the loss of life. In a number of cases bystanders or non-violent protesters were caught up in the violence,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

    October 10, 2013

    Following the death of Herman Wallace last Friday, who was held in solitary confinement for over 40 years, Amnesty International is launching a campaign for the release of his co-defendant Albert Woodfox. He too has been held in cruel conditions of isolation following the deeply flawed trials.

    "Albert Woodfox has been in solitary confinement for decades, even though the case against him was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors. Enough is enough. The state of Louisiana must accept the federal court’s ruling and release Albert Woodfox from prison,” said Tessa Murphy, USA campaigner at Amnesty International.

    Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were both convicted of the 1972 murder of prison guard, Brent Miller. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favourable treatment in return for his testimony.

    Both men have robustly denied any involvement in the crime. They believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

    October 10, 2013

    Authorities in Morocco must immediately and unconditionally drop charges against three teenagers arrested for kissing and posting a photo on Facebook, said Amnesty International ahead of a court hearing on Friday.

    “It is simply absurd that these teenagers could face a prison term just for kissing and and posting a photo on Facebook,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “These young people should never have been detained in the first place - there is no imaginable reason why expression of this type ought to result in prosecution. Launching a judicial investigation into a complaint about an act as benign as teenagers kissing is ridiculous. It should be dismissed out of hand.”

    Two 15-year-old boys and one 14-year-old girl were arrested on 4 October in the city of Nador. They were detained for three days and released on bail on 7 October, ahead of a court hearing this Friday.

    All three were charged with “public indecency” under Article 483 of Morocco's Penal Code. If found guilty, they could face up to two years imprisonment and a fine.

    October 09, 2013

    The UN Security Council must ensure that the protection of civilians and the promotion of human rights lie at the heart of Afghan and international efforts in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said.

    The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is expected to be extended until the end of 2014 on 10 October by the Security Council.

    “As the security transfer from international to Afghan forces enters its final stage, it is essential that the Afghan government, ISAF and the USA ensure that all necessary safeguards are in place to prevent and account for rising civilian casualties,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “With ISAF combat troops completing their withdrawal, their governments must continue to provide international expertise, political support and pressure, as well as financial assistance. This is crucial to secure the modest gains of the past 12 years and further advance human rights.”

    October 04, 2013

    In the week that saw over 50 students killed by gunmen in an agricultural college in Yobe State, Amnesty International publishes a new report assessing attacks on schools in northern Nigeria between 2012 and 2013.

    “Hundreds have been killed in these horrific attacks. Thousands of children have been forced out of schools across communities in northern Nigeria and many teachers have been forced to flee for their safety,” said Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director.

    “Attacks against schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings demonstrate an absolute disregard for the right to life and the right to education.”
     
    According to the report Education under attack in Nigeria this year alone at least 70 teachers and scores of pupils have been slaughtered and many others wounded. Some 50 schools have been burned or seriously damaged and more than 60 others have been forced to close.

    The Islamist group commonly known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for many, but not all, of the attacks.

    October 02, 2013

    Reports that Sudan’s security forces have arrested at least 800 activists, members of opposition parties, journalists, and others amid ongoing anti-government protests mark a shocking escalation of the crackdown on dissent, Amnesty International said.

    A wave of arrests took place between the night of Monday 30 September and the early hours of Tuesday 1 October. Amnesty International is still receiving reports of arrests at the time of writing.

    “Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service is notorious for its repressive tactics in rounding up and placing perceived dissidents behind bars – but even by their standards, this latest round-up marks a significant escalation in arrests,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.  

    October 01, 2013

    The decision to overturn the conviction of a terminally ill man held in solitary confinement for more than 41 years after a flawed trial is a positive step but long overdue after four decades of injustice, Amnesty International said.

    “The case of Herman Wallace is a tragic example of ‘justice’ gone wrong in the USA. Finally a federal court has acknowledged some of the unfairness surrounding this case. However this sadly comes too late for lasting benefit as he is at death’s door with terminal cancer,” said Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    “The state must not now try to block his release.”

    Herman Wallace, 71, was placed in solitary confinement in Louisiana State prison after being convicted in 1974 of the murder of prison guard Brent Miller.

    Today’s ruling focused on one aspect of his trial: the systematic exclusion of women from the grand jury. Many other irregularities have been raised over the years but have been rejected by the state courts.

    September 27, 2013

    Mexico’s military justice system is failing victims of alleged human rights violations by the army and navy, but the Mexican Senate has a key opportunity to change that, Amnesty International said today.

    “If the Mexican legislature wants to prove they have a real commitment to upholding human rights, they will seize this key opportunity to reform the military justice system once and for all, and ensure civilian justice to investigate and try all cases of human rights violations by the armed forces,” said Daniel Zapico, Amnesty International Mexico director.

    “This would bring Mexico in line with international human rights standards as well as rulings by the Inter American Court of Human Rights on the matter over the last years.”

    September 26, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 27 September, 2013

    Sri Lanka’s disturbing human rights record means it should be barred from hosting a key Commonwealth summit in November or chairing the organization, Amnesty International said ahead of a key meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers today.

    The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - made up of foreign ministers and Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who gather to address violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values, including human rights - is meeting in New York today.

    “Today’s meeting is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to show some real leadership on human rights. The organization has been shamefully silent so far about Sri Lanka’s human rights crisis– including the persistent lack of justice for past crimes and ongoing attacks on human rights defenders and other activists,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia- Pacific Director.

    September 26, 2013

    Joint News Release from Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies

    “Shooting to kill – including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads – is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces.”
    Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International

    “The Sudanese government must immediately establish an investigation into the use of disproportionate force and allegations of the intentional killing of protestors and use of live ammunition by security forces.”
    Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies
     

    The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop using arbitrary and unlawful force against protesters, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and Amnesty International urged today, after confirming that at least 50 demonstrators were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday after being shot in the chest or head.

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