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Human Rights Abuses

    September 02, 2016

    Reacting to Friday’s attacks on a court in Mardan and on a Christian community just outside Peshawar, both in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s attacks a horrific reminder that Pakistan’s authorities must do more to ensure vulnerable groups are protected. The authorities have a duty to protect the right to life, prevent human rights abuses, and hold perpetrators to account in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty or other human rights violations. Armed groups are seeking to undermine the rule of law by targeting both the people who defend it in court and the people it should protect,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

     

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    September 01, 2016

    "Security forces in Gabon must refrain from using excessive force against protesters in the wake of the country’s disputed election result," said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, amid reports that several anti-government demonstrators had been shot and injured on Wednesday afternoon.

    "Such a brutal response violates protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as inflaming an already tense situation following the vote.

    “The authorities must instead do everything in their power to allow for peaceful protest, in order to bring much-needed stability and security after the election period.”

    “They must also independently, impartially and efficiently investigate any excessive use of force by security forces, and bring those responsible to justice.

    Background

    The election result announced on Wednesday gave incumbent Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba 49.8 per cent of the vote against 48.23 per cent for his rival, Jean Ping.

    August 26, 2016

    As the Prime Minister begins his first trip to China, the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China is releasing an Open Letter, documenting serious human rights concerns and laying out recommendations for human rights reforms in China.  The Coalition has also urged the Prime Minister to press for freedom for thirteen prisoners.

    The Prime Minister’s first trip to China comes at a critical time.  There has been a clampdown on human rights lawyers and activists and intensified measures to curtail freedoms of expression, association and assembly.  These are indications of a deteriorating climate for human rights protection in the country.   

    Event:             Press Conference

    Speakers:      Sonam Chokey, National Director, Students for a Free Tibet Canada

                         Gloria Fung, Director, Canada-Hong Kong Link 

    August 25, 2016

    The conviction of Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar for sedition should be quashed immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. Malaysia’s sedition law is a crude colonial-era instrument designed to silence dissent. It has no place in a modern rights-respecting society and should be repealed immediately,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

     

    Background

    Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar, the vice-chief of the Parti Amanah Negara Youth, was found guilty of sedition by the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur and sentenced to eight months in prison.

    Fakrhulrazi, also known as Ustaz Fakhrulrazi, was charged with sedition for calling for the release of opposition politician and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, at a rally in February 2015.

    The charge, under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of RM5,000.

     

    August 24, 2016

    The establishment of a high-level commission headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is a welcome step towards addressing the human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Amnesty International said today.

    “Today’s announcement is a sign that Myanmar’s authorities are taking the situation in Rakhine state seriously. But it will only have been a worthwhile exercise if it paves the way for the realization of human rights for all people in the state,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar is home to many minority groups that have faced decades of human rights violations and abuses, in particular, the persecuted Rohingya minority. The situation there has deteriorated markedly since 2012, when clashes between different groups sparked waves of violence, culminating in scores of deaths, destruction of property and mass displacement.

    August 22, 2016

    The legacy of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been shattered with at least eight people killed in police operations in the city during the Games and peaceful protests heavily repressed, Amnesty International said.

    “Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “The Brazilian authorities missed a golden opportunity to follow on their promises to implement public security policies to make Rio a safe city for all. The only way to undo some of many wrongs that took place during the Games is to ensure all killings and other human rights violations by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

    Rise in killings by police

    In 2016, police killings in Rio increased month on month as the city prepared to welcome the world.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 35 people in April 2016, 40 in May and 49 in June – an average of more than one every single day.

    August 17, 2016

    The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Bahá’í religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith, Amnesty International said today.

    Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday.

    “The arbitrary arrests of Bahá’í people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    August 15, 2016

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial bombardment of a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Yemen is an atrocious attack that could amount to a war crime, Amnesty International said today.  The Abs Rural Hospital which was hit at around 3:30pm local time, has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began to support it in July 2015.

    “The bombardment of this hospital is a deplorable act that has cost civilian lives, including medical staff who are dedicated to helping sick and injured people under some of the most challenging conditions. Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which would amount to a war crime. The circumstances of this attack must be thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Today’s air strike appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life.”

    ****

    August 12, 2016

    A series of apparently coordinated blasts at tourist spots in southern Thailand overnight are reprehensible acts of violence that must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    At least four people were killed in the blasts and dozens more were injured as four bombs exploded in the resort town of Hua Hin and several others in Phuket, a popular tourist destination, as well as in Trang province.

    “Nothing can justify intentionally carrying out indiscriminate attacks, which disregard the basic right to life. These acts of violence show utter contempt for human rights,” said Champa Patel, Senior Research Advisor for Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Those behind the attacks must be brought to justice through fair trials. Amnesty International calls on Thai authorities to ensure their response is in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

    ******

    August 11, 2016

    Responding to today’s High Court ruling that Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and two others were subject to enforced disappearance and later executed by police, Victor Odero, Amnesty International’s East Africa Campaigner said:

    “The court’s determination is a watershed moment in the history of justice in Kenya as it sheds the spotlight on the common but under-reported scourge of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.”

    “The ruling is a fitting tribute to Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwendwa and Joseph Muiruri, as well as hundreds of other Kenyans who have been executed or disappeared at the hands of the police, and a victory for everyone who protested and demanded justice for them.”

    The court also ruled that Willie Kimani should be recognised as a champion of justice.

    August 08, 2016

    An apparently pre-planned suicide attack, which killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 50 others in a hospital in Quetta, south-western Pakistan, today is the latest in a series of horrific attacks by armed groups targeting ordinary people in Pakistan, said Amnesty International.

    “This is an absolutely senseless targeting of dozens of people, including patients and mourners. It has led to a devastating loss of life, and is an example of the string of attacks in recent years in Pakistan on schools, hospitals and other ‘soft targets’, which must cease immediately,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for South Asia, South East Asia and Pacific Regional Offices.

    “A full, independent and transparent investigation must be carried out into how and why this bombing took place, and whoever is responsible should be brought to justice as soon as possible in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.”

    August 08, 2016

    At least 97 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region and in parts of Amhara over the weekend, according to credible sources who spoke to Amnesty International.

    Thousands of protesters turned out in Oromia and Amhara calling for political reform, justice and the rule of law. The worst bloodshed - which may amount to extrajudicial killings - took place in the northern city of Bahir Dar where at least 30 people were killed in one day.

    “The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These crimes must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.”

    August 05, 2016

    Thailand’s referendum on a draft constitution takes place this Sunday against a backdrop of pervasive human rights violations that have created a chilling climate, Amnesty International said today.

    In the context of the referendum, the authorities have arbitrarily arrested scores of people, have cancelled or disrupted peaceful assemblies and took off the air a television station in recent weeks, marking just the most recent undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

    “If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “What we are seeing are not temporary measures that create peace and order as the authorities have argued, but a constant criminalisation of peaceful dissent designed to silence views that the authorities do not like. Immediate and long overdue steps must be taken to lift restrictions and guarantee rights.”

    August 02, 2016

    Responding to a speech today by Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which he criticized Amnesty International’s findings that some people detained in connection with Turkey’s failed coup attempt had been beaten and tortured, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “From day one, Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned the appalling violence committed by those behind the 15 July failed coup attempt. The organization has called for the Turkish government to bring the coup plotters to justice.

    “At the same time Amnesty International has urged Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and the rights of all those detained. The government must release all detainees unless there is a reasonable suspicion that they have committed a recognisable criminal offence.

    “The serious human rights violations documented by an Amnesty International team on the ground in Turkey are alarming. These findings are based on detailed interviews with lawyers, doctors, family members and an eyewitness to torture in a detention facility.

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