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Human Rights Defenders

    September 10, 2018

    Responding to the news that opposition leader Kem Sokha has been released from prison on bail and is now being held under house arrest, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations said:

    “While this is a welcome development, it offers no consolation for the gross injustice that Kem Sokha continues to endure. The fact remains that after more than a year in pre-trial detention, he still faces a set of baseless, politically motivated charges that carry a heavy prison sentence.

    “Kem Sokha is now a prisoner in his own home. We call on the Cambodian authorities to drop all charges against him and make his release permanent, full and unconditional. Following reports that he requires hospital care, we also urge authorities to grant him immediate access to adequate medical attention.”

    Background

    August 16, 2018

    Yemen’s Huthi armed group must reveal the fate and whereabouts of an activist abducted by two of its militants in apparent retaliation for his human rights work, Amnesty International said.

    Kamal al-Shawish, a field research assistant with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights in the city of Hodeidah, was seized on the street by two Huthi armed men on Tuesday. He was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. His whereabouts remain unknown.

    The activist had documented human rights violations against civilians in Hodeidah prior to his arrest.

    “The worrying abduction of Kamal al-Shawish seems to be part of a sinister pattern of harassment and repression of human rights work in Yemen, committed by all sides to the conflict,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The Huthi armed group must reveal his fate and whereabouts and ensure he is protected from the kind of torture and ill-treatment that has been inflicted on others in its custody. Kamal al-Shawish should be released immediately.”

    August 08, 2018
    Demand freedom for women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia

    By Alex Neve
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Last week, two prominent and courageous women’s rights activists, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada, were arrested in Saudi Arabia.

    No one imagined that on top of the personal injustice for Samar and Nassima that their arrest was going to spark a major diplomatic stand-off between Canada and Saudi Arabia about human rights.  And in doing so, put Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record in the international spotlight in ways that it rarely is.

    Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada are, sadly, two more in a growing list of women human rights defenders arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia over the past three months. That includes Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, imprisoned since mid-May.  Loujain has strong Canadian connections, as she is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.  

    August 01, 2018

    One year on from the disappearance and subsequent death of Santiago Maldonado, it is imperative that the Argentine authorities solve the case and comply with their obligation to guarantee the rights of his family to truth, justice and reparation, said Amnesty International.

    “The judicial authorities must make progress in an impartial, independent and comprehensive investigation to determine the causes of the death of Santiago Maldonado and, should any state agent be found responsible for this death, they must be brought to justice without delay or interference of any sort”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Santiago Maldonado was a 28-year-old activist who disappeared on 1 August 2017 following a violent raid by the Argentine National Gendarmerie of the Mapuche community Pu Lof, in the department of Cushamen in Chubut province.

    Santiago Maldonado had arrived in the territory of the Mapuche community the day before to assist in its suit to reclaim tribal lands. His body was found on 17 October by the river Chubut, 400 metres upstream from where he had last been seen alive.

    July 29, 2018

    The release of a Palestinian child activist jailed by Israel’s military for shoving, slapping and kicking two heavily armed soldiers wearing protective gear is welcome news but serves as a reminder of Israel’s continued human rights violations against Palestinian children, Amnesty International said.

    Seventeen-year-old Ahed Tamimi was set free today, 21 days short of completing an eight-month prison sentence following her wrongful imprisonment by Ofer military court in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    “This is a huge relief for Ahed Tamimi’s loved ones, but their joy will be tempered by the injustice of her imprisonment and the grim knowledge that many more Palestinian children still languish in Israeli jails, many despite not having committed any recognizable crime,” said Saleh Higazi, Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International.

    July 25, 2018

    In anticipation of the evidentiary hearing in the criminal case against eight people accused of the killing of Berta Cáceres scheduled for 27 July, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The Honduran justice system must comprehensively review the killing of the brave human rights defender Berta Cáceres and analyze the motives behind the crime, in addition to the political and economic actors who could have somehow been involved in this heinous crime.”

    “It is crucial that the perpetrators of the crime be investigated, but also those behind it. If they fail to do so, the Honduran authorities are sending the message that only those who carried out the order to kill Berta Cáceres will face the consequences and not those who gave the order or planned this crime, therefore encouraging further attacks against those who defend the land, territory and environment.”

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

    June 14, 2018

    As Russia prepares for the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Amnesty International is shining a spotlight on 11 Russian human rights champions who routinely put their lives on the line to defend human rights in Russia.

    A new campaign, Team Brave, will profile a human rights defender from each of the 11 regions hosting World Cup matches to raise awareness of their important work, and Amnesty International supporters from around the world will send messages of solidarity to show these brave individuals that they are not alone.

    “As World Cup excitement builds, we want to highlight the work of the inspiring men and women who risk their lives and freedom to fight for human rights in Russia. The lineup of Team Brave includes activists who have fought to end torture in police stations, protect the environment, defend LGBTI rights and sex workers’ rights, and support victims of domestic violence – they are the real champions in Russia,” said Inga Kelekhsaeva, Russia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    June 08, 2018

    An absurd $8 USD fine handed to an environmental activist on fabricated charges is the latest example of the Malagasy government’s continued crackdown on people speaking out against the illegal trafficking of the country’s natural resources, Amnesty International said.

    Christopher Manenjika was today found guilty on trumped-up charges of “rebellion” and “insult to public agents” after spending more than three weeks in detention. His prosecution follows several similar convictions of environmental activists on the island, many of whom are facing prison sentences.

    “There is a striking resemblance between Christopher’s case and that of other environmental activists in Madagascar, who have also faced accusations of ‘rebellion’ as an excuse to silence them,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.

    May 25, 2018

    Women prisoners of conscience from Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish religious community are being subjected to verbal abuse, including sexual slurs, and denied proper medical treatment by doctors and other health professionals at Shahr-e Rey prison on the outskirts of Tehran, Amnesty International revealed today.

    The organization has received testimonies indicating that doctors at the prison, a former industrial chicken farm in Varamin, are routinely dismissing the women’s complaints of pain and discomfort as “fake” while refusing to prescribe them medication on a timely basis or carry out thorough diagnostic tests. They are also failing to ensure that medical equipment in the prison clinic is functioning properly and poses no threat to patients’ health.

    May 25, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of prominent human rights defender Mohammed al-Bajadi in Saudi Arabia today, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

    “Mohammed al-Bajadi is a tireless campaigner for human rights who, along with all those detained in the recent crackdown, has only been targeted because of his important work.

    “Despite global outrage, authorities have again responded with even more repression against Saudi Arabia’s human rights community who have been repeatedly persecuted for their work.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to promote his ‘reforms’ to the international public, while silencing anyone at home who dares to question his policies. It is time for this rank hypocrisy to stop.

    May 22, 2018

    I am here today, a free man, after a nightmare of imprisonment in Ethiopia that stole from me, my wife and my family, more than 11 years of my life.

    May 22, 2018

    The five-year prison sentence against Tibetan language education activist Tashi Wangchuk for “inciting separatism” highlights the Chinese authorities’ unyielding assault on Tibetans who peacefully defend their cultural rights, Amnesty International said.

    Tashi was sentenced on Tuesday morning at Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, northwest China. According to his lawyer, the main evidence presented against Tashi at his trial in January 2018 was a short video documentary produced by The New York Times in 2015, which documented Tashi’s campaign for Tibetan language education in schools.

    May 04, 2018

    The Iranian authorities must stop their ongoing harassment campaign against Raheleh Rahemipour, a 65-year-old human rights defender, who faces trial for a second time in reprisal for a complaint filed with the UN on the enforced disappearance of her brother and his infant daughter, said Amnesty International today.

    Raheleh Rahemipour is due to appear before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran tomorrow, 5 May, on the charge of “spreading propaganda against the system”. This trial is the latest instalment of an ongoing harassment campaign that began in March 2016 after the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances received a complaint concerning the enforced disappearance of Raheleh Rahemipour’s brother Hossein and his infant daughter, Golrou, while they were held in Tehran’s Evin prison between 1983 and 1984.

    April 23, 2018

    As the space for civil society to peacefully advocate in support of human rights shrinks, being a human rights defender is getting increasingly dangerous. Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are experiencing harassment and violence—both on and offline—because of what they’re advocating for AND because of their gender. The space for WHRDs to safely advocate for human rights, is getting even smaller. And the space for women of colour, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized women to advocate in support for human rights is even smaller still.

    March 20, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the murder of Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortíz, son of Bernardo Cuero Bravo, on 19 March 2018 in the city of Tumaco, southern Colombia. His brother Silvio Dubán Ortíz was also killed during the events.

    Javier Bernardo and his family were sitting outside of a relative's store, when two unidentified individuals approached them on a motorcycle and fired directly at them, killing them both and wounding one more person. Amnesty International has received reports that the murderers aimed directly at Cuero's relatives, a sign that it was a planned event and that the rest of the family could still be at risk.

    The murder of Javier Bernardo took place just nine months after the murder of his father Bernardo Cuero, human rights defender and victims’ leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) in June 2017. The murders occurred just weeks after the trial hearing set to press charges against the perpetrators of the crime, and there is evidence regarding the intellectual perpetrators of this crime.

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