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Human Rights Abuses

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to reports that a flotilla of Russian warships destined for Syria is considering refuelling at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, Samah Hadid, Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, said:

    “Neither Spain nor any other country should refuel or provide any other logistical support to Russian warships en route to Syria, given the substantial risk that these ships will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to the news that nearly 30 civilians, including children, in the Firoz Koh district of Afghanistan’s Ghor province, were abducted and killed by an armed group suspected of links to the so-called Islamic State, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    “The abduction and killing of nearly 30 civilians, including children, is a horrendous crime. There can be no justification whatsoever for targeting and killing civilians under any circumstances.

    “The victims and their families deserve justice. The Afghan authorities must carry out an independent, impartial, and effective investigation into these killings. And the perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.”

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    October 24, 2016
    South Sudan: Deliberate killings by government troops as UN forces fail to protect civilians   South Sudanese government forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in Juba, the country’s capital, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today.   “South Sudanese government troops killed men from the Nuer ethnic group, raped women and girls, and carried out a massive campaign of pillage,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.   “These attacks by government forces are further proof of the urgent need to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, with the aim of stopping the flow of weapons, and establish an effective mechanism to monitor compliance. States should not be profiting off weapons that are being used to kill civilians.”  
    October 19, 2016

    The UN General Assembly (UNGA) must step in to fill the void left by the UN Security Council members’ catastrophic failure to end relentless attacks targeting the civilian population in eastern Aleppo city, said Amnesty International ahead of a UNGA meeting later today.

    The organization has released new satellite imagery illustrating the scale of destruction, as well as testimony from civilians trapped in the city, providing evidence that Syrian government forces, with Russian support, have callously attacked residential homes, medical facilities, schools, markets and mosques as part of a deliberate military strategy to empty the city of its inhabitants and seize control. In some cases there is evidence that Russian-made cluster munitions were used in attacks.

    October 18, 2016

    Heavy-handed measures by the Ethiopian government will only escalate a deepening crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 800 protesters since protests began in November 2015, said Amnesty International today after the government issued a directive imposing wide-ranging restrictions as part of a state of emergency.

    The directive authorizes arrests without warrants, as well as rehabilitation measures. When such measures have been used in the past, they have led to arbitrary detention of protesters at remote military facilities without access to their families and lawyers.

    “These emergency measures are extremely severe and so broad that they threaten basic human rights that must not be curtailed even under a state of emergency,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    October 17, 2016
    Paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq have committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, by torturing, arbitrarily detaining, forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executing thousands of civilians who have escaped areas controlled by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International in a new report published today.   The report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces exposes the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk of mass violations as the military operation to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul gets underway.   The report is based on interviews with more than 470 former detainees, witnesses and relatives of those killed, disappeared or detained, as well as officials, activists, humanitarian workers and others.  
    October 17, 2016

    Every effort must be made to protect civilians from the onslaught of war and potential revenge attacks in Mosul, said Amnesty International today as the operation to recapture the city from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State gets under way.

    Tomorrow, 18 October 2016, Amnesty International will launch a major new report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces which documents serious human rights violations - including war crimes committed by Iraqi militias and government forces against displaced civilians during past military operations. The report warns against a repeat of such violations on an even greater scale in the Mosul offensive.

    “Iraqi authorities must take concrete steps to ensure there is no repeat of the gross violations witnessed in Falluja and other parts of Iraq during confrontations between government forces and the Islamic State armed group,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    October 13, 2016

    Continued fighting in South Sudan must not derail justice for crimes committed during the deadly conflict that began in December 2013, said Amnesty International and FIDH in a joint briefing published today.

    The organizations are calling on the African Union (AU) Commission and the South Sudan government to urgently establish the proposed Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS).

    “Thousands have been killed, women raped, entire villages destroyed, and humanitarian personnel attacked. But as world attention has focused on ending the fighting, accountability for violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity has been put on the back burner,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    “Justice must not be delayed any further. Fresh violations should give added impetus to efforts to form the Hybrid Court.”

    October 11, 2016

    Member states of the international body responsible for monitoring the use of chemical weapons must trigger an investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, revealed by Amnesty International last month.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council will start a three-day meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in the Hague today. Many of the members who will be present at the meeting, including France and other EU member states, have expressed their alarm over the chemical weapons allegations.

    “Expressing concern and consternation will not suffice, we need to see concrete steps towards an independent investigation. We have credible evidence of horrific injuries, and estimates of up to 250 deaths, caused by dozens of suspected chemical weapons attacks against civilian populations over the past nine months,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

    October 10, 2016

    Reports about the resumption of humanitarian aid to 75,000 refugees stranded in a remote, arid area along the Jordanian-Syrian border called “the berm” are a long-awaited glimmer of hope that should be followed by a sustainable, long-term solution, Amnesty International said today.

    The news comes as the UN and the Jordanian authorities continue negotiations to open a humanitarian lifeline to the Syrians who have been stranded there since the Jordanian authorities sealed the border following an armed attack in June. Since then the refugees have endured hellish conditions with no aid except one delivery, made by crane in August.

    October 09, 2016
    Yezidi women and girls who have been enslaved, raped beaten and otherwise tortured by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are being failed by a lack of adequate support from the international community, said Amnesty International today.  Researchers from the organization interviewed 18 women and girls abducted by IS, during a visit to the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq in August 2016. The women and girls had either escaped or were released after payment of ransom by their families. Several were driven to the brink of suicide or had sisters or daughters who killed themselves because of the appalling abuse they endured in captivity. The suffering of survivors is compounded by their current destitute living conditions, their grief for relatives killed by IS and their fears for those who remain in captivity.
    October 07, 2016

    100 days after Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines, a wave of unlawful killings has already claimed more than 3,000 lives, shattering progress on human rights in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Rodrigo Duterte’s first 100 days as president have been marked by state-sanctioned violence on a truly shocking scale. His brutal crackdown on those allegedly involved in drug crimes has led to carnage on the streets and the obliteration of key human rights, including the right to life and to due process,” said Rafendi Djamin, Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

    “Since he was elected President Duterte has actively created a climate where anyone can kill, or be killed, in the name of the ‘war on drugs’. This mass killing must end immediately and all those responsible, at all levels of command, must be brought to justice.”

    October 06, 2016

    The Afghan government and Taliban forces should urgently facilitate swift and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief into Kunduz, where thousands of civilians are trapped in increasingly dire conditions, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has interviewed medical workers and civilians stuck in Kunduz amid fighting after the Taliban launched an assault on 3 October. Kunduz residents have described grim scenes as food and water supplies have been exhausted and electricity was cut. The city’s civilian hospital has run out of medical supplies and sustained rocket and gunfire attacks on 5 October.

    “Civilians in Kunduz are once again at a precipice, and time is running out. Unless all parties to the conflict permit a humanitarian corridor to allow vital aid in and people to flee, we could soon be looking at a devastating humanitarian crisis,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “International humanitarian law clearly prohibits launching attacks against, or from, civilian areas – those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

    October 04, 2016

    Syria should immediately release the Human Rights Lawyer Khalil Ma’touq and his assistant, Mohamed Thatha, 31 human rights organizations said today, on the fourth anniversary of their enforced disappearance.

    On October 2, 2012, the two men are believed to have been arrested at a government-operated checkpoint on their way from Ma’touq’s home in the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya to his office in Damascus.  Despite repeated requests for information to the public prosecutor’s office in Damascus in 2012 and 2013 by family and colleagues, Syrian authorities have denied that they arrested the men.

    Despite these denials, individuals released from the government’s custody in 2015 have informed Ma’touq’s family that while in detention they spotted him in various government-operated detention facilities, including State Security Branch 285 and Military Intelligence Branch 235 in Damascus. Since then, the family has not received any information on his whereabouts. 

    October 03, 2016

    Responding to the news that Taliban fighters have launched a coordinated attack on the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan, Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:

    “Civilians in Kunduz have woken up this morning to find themselves once again caught up in a storm of appalling violence. It is extremely worrying that Taliban fighters are exposing residents to attacks and sweeping them into a raging war, which has already cost them so much. Needlessly endangering civilians by launching attacks from their midst is prohibited under international law, and demonstrates the Taliban’s utter disregard for civilian safety and right to life.

    “All parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect civilians, including media and humanitarian workers, and ensure they are protected amid this renewed violence in Kunduz. Civilians must never be used as human shields.”

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    For further information, please contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236
    Email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca

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