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Human Rights Abuses

    July 22, 2013

    California prison authorities have again breached international human rights obligations by taking punitive measures against prisoners on hunger strike over conditions for thousands held in solitary confinement in the state’s prisons, Amnesty International said today.

    “Prisoners seeking an end to inhumane conditions should not be subjected to punitive measures for exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest,” said Angela Wright, Amnesty International’s USA researcher.

    “Prolonged isolation under conditions which can only be described as cruel and inhumane treatment is prohibited under international law.”

    More than 1,000 inmates in prisons acrossCalifornia remained on hunger strike as the protest enters its third week .

    This is down from approximately 30,000 prisoners in more than 24 prisons who began their hunger strike on 8 July to protest the state’s policy of long-term solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU).

    July 17, 2013

    Hundreds of pro-Morsi supporters arrested by the Egyptian authorities have been denied their legal rights, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. The organization has gathered testimonies from detainees who said that they were beaten upon arrest, subjected to electric shocks or hit with rifle butts.

    The Egyptian authorities must respect the right to due process for those who have been rounded up and are facing accusations of inciting or participating in violence in the last two weeks. Allegations of ill-treatment must be investigated urgently.

    “At this time of extreme polarization and division, it is more important than ever that the office of the Public Prosecutor demonstrates that it’s truly independent and not politicized,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International. “These cases risk being seen as mere retribution rather than justice.”

    July 05, 2013

    Amnesty International is warning against a crackdown on supporters of Mohamed Morsi, after documenting a new wave of arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, raids on media and an incident in which a protester was killed by army live fire.

    Since former President Mohamed Morsi was deposed on 3 July, Amnesty International has spoken to eyewitnesses who were fired on by the army in a street near Rabaa Aladaweya Square in Cairo’s Nasr City that evening. Live ammunition was used on the pro-Morsi protest, and at least one demonstrator was killed.
     
    “We fear that the violence of the last few days could spiral into a new wave of human rights abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme, amid reports that more pro-Morsi protesters were shot today as they marched on the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo. “It also resurrects fears of the army’s abysmal record on human rights.”

    July 05, 2013

    Authorities in the state of Odisha, India, must provide immediate remedy and reparation to families forcibly evicted in Jagatsinghpur district for a project proposed by South Korean steel company POSCO, Amnesty International India said today.

    "These evictions were unlawful and have devastated the livelihoods of thousands of people," said Shashikumar Velath, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International India.

    "Authorities acquired land without engaging in genuine consultation with affected persons, or providing adequate notice or adequate compensation. They have been violating the rights of these villagers for years. They must now ensure that the affected families receive effective remedies."

    Officials from the Odisha government and police resumed forced evictions on 28 June 2013 in continuing efforts to acquire land for the project.  On the same day, police personnel baton-charged protestors, injuring at least 20 people.

    July 04, 2013

    Amnesty International has accused the Israeli authorities of bullying and judicial harassment of Nariman Tamimi, a Palestinian rights activist who was placed under partial house arrest today to prevent her taking part in peaceful protests while she awaits trial next week. 

    “This is an unrelenting campaign of harassment, the latest in a litany of human rights violations against Nariman Tamimi, her family, and her fellow villagers. These arbitrary restrictions should be lifted immediately and the charges should be dropped,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. 

    Tamimi was arrested along with another activist Rana Hamadi on Friday 28 June, when villagers of Nabi Saleh walk towards a nearby spring in protest against the loss of their land.  In 2009 Israeli settlers occupied the Al-Qaws spring near Nabi Saleh village where Tamimi lives. The illegal settlement now enjoys the protection of the military.

    July 03, 2013

    Egyptian police and security forces are failing to protect protesters and bystanders from violence amid the country’s political strife, Amnesty International said today, on the brink of the army’s threatened intervention to resolve the crisis.

    According to evidence gathered by Amnesty International researchers in Egypt, security forces have not been intervening or have been despatched too late to stop violence during the clashes. Violence between opponents and supporters of President Morsi erupted across the country on 28 June.

    “The security forces should have been more than ready to prevent and stop the kinds of deadly clashes that we’ve seen in the past three days,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.  

    June 27, 2013

    United Arab Emirates state security officers have subjected detainees to systematic mistreatment, including torture, say hand-written letters from detainees smuggled out of jails, Alkarama, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

    The groups obtained 22 statements written by some of the 94people on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. The mistreatment described in the letters is consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities, and indicates that torture is a systematic practice at these facilities. 

    The statements describe conditions in pre-trial detention in varying levels of detail.  Several detainees describe mistreatment that clearly meets the definition of torture as outlined in article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the UAE ratified in July 2012. “I was beaten with a plastic tube all over my body,” one detainee said. “I was tied to a chair and threatened with electrocution if I didn’t talk. I was insulted and humiliated.”

    June 24, 2013

    Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi must urgently tackle the unprecedented level of sectarian violence against Shi’a Muslims and ensure they are protected from further attacks, Amnesty International said after four Shi’a men were killed in south Cairo during a violent attack on Sunday.

    “The Egyptian authorities must immediately order an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of the four men, and send a clear message that carrying out attacks and inciting violence against Shi’a Muslims will not be tolerated,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Investigations must look at why security forces yet again failed to stop the bloodshed, as well as whether advocacy of hatred and incitement to violence played a role.”

    On 23 June, a large group of villagers surrounded the house of local Shi’a Muslim resident, Farahat Ali Mohamed, in the Zawiyat Abu Musalam village in Giza, where a religious ceremony was being held.

    The villagers demanded that visiting Shi’a Sheikh Hassan Shahata hand himself over to them.

    June 24, 2013

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that for the second year in a row, the Canadian government’s required report to Parliament about human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) fails to contain any analysis about human rights realities in Colombia.

    The Canadian government report fails to acknowledge widespread, grave human rights violations in Colombia – including ongoing threats and deadly attacks on trade unionists and community leaders seeking the return of stolen lands, as well as Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities and rural farmers living in areas coveted for their natural resources.

    Notably, the report also excludes any information about Canadian investment in Colombia in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

    June 21, 2013

    A North Korean government ministry’s latest threat of harsh punishment against people leaving North Korea without permission renews concerns about freedom of movement in a country with a deplorable human rights record, Amnesty International said.

    On 19 June the state news agency published a statement by the Ministry of People’s Security of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea), vowing to “take substantial measures to physically remove despicable human scum” who leave the country without permission – an act the government views as treason. The statement added “Sordid human scum will never be able to look up to the sky nor be able to find an inch of land to be buried after their death”.

    “Nobody should be detained, prosecuted or punished in any way simply for exercising their right to freedom of movement by leaving North Korea,” said Catherine Baber, Director of the Asia-Pacific Programme at Amnesty International.

    June 19, 2013

    The trial of 12 Kopassus (Special Forces Command) soldiers accused of the extrajudicial execution of four detainees is likely to be little more than a sham warned Amnesty International as the military hearing opens on Thursday.

    “These courts should never be used to try those accused of human rights violations. They are biased, and they create an intimidating environment for witnesses to testify,” said Isabelle Arradon, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme.

    Kopassus forces have been accused of a range of serious human rights violations in the past but the vast majority have never been tried in an independent court for these crimes.

    “This horrific case is a stark reminder of how reforms of the military and the justice system have been stalled for years in Indonesia. Perpetrators of past crimes run free and new abuses can be committed with apparent impunity. There has to be immediate changes in law and practice so that human rights violators can be effectively tried before independent, civilian courts, and to send a clear message that no one is above the law,” said Arradon.

    June 19, 2013

    Afghanistan: Talks with the Taliban must focus on justice and human rights

    Human rights, including women’s rights, must be integral to any peace deal with the Taliban said Amnesty International today as the USA announced that it was to start direct peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban armed group.

    The call comes as Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai announced that his country would boycott the peace talks unless they were “Afghan-led”, and on the heels of NATO handing over responsibility for security in the country to Afghan forces.

    The first meeting is due to take place imminently in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban have recently set up an office.
    “Any agreement with the Taliban must include clear red-line commitments that they will guarantee the rights of all Afghan women, men and children,” said Polly Truscott, deputy Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.
    “The peace process must not allow members of the Taliban or anyone else to be granted immunity from prosecution for serious human rights abuses and war crimes.”

    June 17, 2013

    The victory of Hassan Rouhani, a 64-year-old cleric, in Iran’s presidential election, presents a new opportunity to address human rights abuses in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Hassan Rouhani, described as a moderate and a pragmatist, made a number of pledges to improve Iran’s dire human rights record during his electoral campaign, for which he must be held accountable in the coming months.

    He plans to issue a “civil rights charter” which calls for equality for all citizens without discrimination based on race, religion or sex. It also calls for greater freedom for political parties and minorities, as well as ensuring the right to fair trial, freedom of assembly and legal protection for all.  

    “The proposed charter – if delivered and implemented - presents the potential for a decisive first step forward for human rights in Iran,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director.

    June 17, 2013

    The Spanish authorities are not investigating crimes under international law committed during the Civil War and Franco period, sending the message that impunity for human rights abuses is allowed, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Time passes, impunity remains examines how the Spanish authorities have refused to investigate tens of thousands of killings and disappearances committed during the Civil War by both parties to the conflict and under Francisco Franco’s rule (1936-1975). It is also not cooperating with other countries, such as Argentina, that have opened their own investigations into Spain’s historical abuses.

    “The fact that Spain is neither investigating nor cooperating with proceedings relating to crimes committed during the Civil War by both parties to the conflict or under Franco is a slap in the face of all the relatives of those who were abused and disappeared at the time,” said Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain.

    June 13, 2013

    Southern African leaders must ensure human rights are prioritized in the run-up to elections in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said ahead of a key summit on the country.

    The Southern African Development Committee (SADC) meets Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique to review the electoral process in Zimbabwe, where a general election will be held before 31 July.

    “The SADC has played a critical role in easing the tension in Zimbabwe since the political violence of 2008. Now it has the duty to ensure that the coming elections are held in an environment free from human rights violations, including violence,” said Noel Kututwa Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Program Director.

    “Specifically, the SADC should immediately deploy human rights monitors to Zimbabwe to oversee the period before, during and after the elections."

    On 31 May, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court ruled that elections must be held before the end of July.

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