Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Human Rights Defenders

    January 28, 2019

    Responding to the 4 and a half years prison sentence handed down by a Chinese court to human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was found guilty of “subverting state power”, Doriane Lau, China Researcher at Amnesty International, commented:

    “Today’s verdict is a gross injustice. It’s outrageous that Wang Quanzhang is being punished for peacefully standing up for human rights in China. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “In the three years leading up to his sham of a trial, the authorities disappeared Wang Quanzhang into a black hole, where he was likely tortured. Wang’s family, who continue to be harassed by the authorities, didn’t even know if he was alive until recently. His continued imprisonment only prolongs their suffering.”

    Background

    Wang Quanzhang was the last lawyer awaiting a verdict in connection with the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 human rights lawyers and activists.

    January 24, 2019

    Amnesty International has obtained new reports of torture and abuse inflicted on a group of Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been in arbitrary detention since May 2018. These reports follow similar testimonies from November 2018 into the torture of a number of the activists, and highlight the urgent need to allow independent monitors access to those in detention, the organization said today.

    According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

    One woman activist was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month. According to another account, two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. One activist reported that interrogators had forced water into her mouth as she was shouting while being tortured. Others reported being tortured with electric shocks.

    January 24, 2019

    Responding to the Chinese authorities’ confirmation that Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been detained on suspicion of “endangering national security”, Joshua Rosenzweig, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International commented:

    “The Chinese authorities have serious questions to answer over the detention of Yang Hengjun, but it could be months before we find out anything more about his condition or what they’re accusing him of doing.

    “If it’s true that Yang is being held under ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’, then there is cause for serious concern over his wellbeing. Facing up to six months in incommunicado detention at an unknown location with no contact with the outside world, Yang Hengjun is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    “These conditions are simply unacceptable. We urge Chinese officials to be transparent, disclose where he is held and grant Yang Hengjun immediate access to both a lawyer of his choosing and Australian consular officials. There are no excuses for the Chinese authorities to deny Yang these rights.”

    January 15, 2019
    Justice for Bill Kayong

    Bill Kayong, a vocal advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia, was gunned down in broad daylight in June 2016. His relatives believe the murder could have been prevented if police had acted on reports of threats and harassment leading up the killing. Furthermore, although one person was prosecuted for the crime, the person or persons who ordered the killing have escaped justice.

    Unfortunately, this tragic story is far from unique.

    A new report by Amnesty International documents a widespread pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Malaysia. This violence is taking place in the context of a longstanding failure by federal and state authorities in Malaysia to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples when their lands are targeted for resource development.

    This is a critical time in Malaysia.

    December 31, 2018

    Responding to today’s decision by the Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to uphold the conviction and 10-year prison term of prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Today’s court decision to uphold Ahmed Mansoor’s conviction and 10-year prison sentence confirms there is no space for free expression in the United Arab Emirates.”

    “Ahmed Mansoor’s only ‘crime’ was to express his peaceful opinions on social media, and it is outrageous that he is being punished with such a heavy prison sentence. This is a final verdict and cannot be appealed. Instead of punishing Ahmed Mansoor for daring to express his opinions, the authorities must ensure his conviction and sentence are quashed and release him immediately and unconditionally.”

    December 31, 2018

    Responding to the news that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld the conviction of Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, based on views he expressed on Twitter, Lynn Maalouf Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “Today’s shameful verdict is a travesty of justice. The decision to uphold Nabeel Rajab’s conviction and five-year sentence simply for posting tweets expressing his opinions, exposes Bahrain’s justice system as a complete farce. His treatment by the Bahraini authorities is completely unacceptable. 

    “Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience. It is utterly outrageous that he has already spent two years behind bars – including nine agonizing months in solitary confinement, amounting to torture. Instead of prolonging his suffering and condemning him to several more years in prison the Bahraini authorities should quash his conviction and sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally.”

    Background:

    December 26, 2018

    The trial of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is a cruel charade and he should be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said.

    Wang is one of the few lawyers still held in detention after the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 lawyers and activists. He is on trial at the Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court accused of “subverting state power,” which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

    “This is a sham trial in which Wang Quanzhang is being persecuted only for peacefully defending human rights,” said Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Wang Quanzhang has already been unjustly held for more than three years, during which his family suffered the anguish of not knowing whether he was alive until recently. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Wang was taken away by police on 3 August 2015. It was only in July 2018 that his family learnt from a trusted lawyer that Wang Quanzhang was alive and being held in Tianjin.

    December 18, 2018

    It’s a big question, but someone’s got to ask it. At this year’s Human Rights Defenders World Summit in Paris, France, Amnesty asked 11 prominent activists about the essence of human rights. Here’s what they said…

    December 09, 2018
    Amnesty publishes review of human rights in 2018

    Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year.

    The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic policies has placed freedoms and rights that were won long ago in fresh jeopardy.

    “In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonize and persecute already marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “But it is women activists who have offered the most powerful vision this year of how to fight back against these repressive leaders.”

    December 07, 2018

    An escalating crackdown on freedoms across the Gulf states has brought renewed international attention to the human rights situation in the region, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit which takes place in Riyadh on Sunday.

    “2018 has been a particularly brutal year for peaceful human rights activists, journalists and dissidents in the Gulf states. The abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October shone a global spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record at home and in Yemen. All of the Gulf states gathering on Sunday have continued their suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly over the past year,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    “Gulf leaders can no longer operate on the assumption that they have a carte blanche to treat their citizens like criminals whenever they express dissent without fear of any international repercussions.”

    December 07, 2018

    Responding to the guilty verdict and six-month prison sentences handed to three activists today for their role in a peaceful protest in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, Tirana Hassan, said:

    “Today’s appalling verdict against three peaceful activists shows the government’s determination to silence any criticism of their actions in this deadly conflict – and repress any peaceful opposition to the military whatsoever.

    “These jail sentences reflect a pattern of continued attacks, intimidation, threats and prosecutions against human rights defenders, journalists and community leaders who peacefully speak out in defence of civilian victims of military operations. It sends a chilling warning to any humanitarian actor or activist who wants to tell the truth about the Myanmar military’s brutality in Kachin and northern Shan states and beyond.

    December 06, 2018

    Responding to the news that Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was detained by the de-facto authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea and is now facing charges for a Facebook post he made five years ago, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

    “Following yesterday’s arrest of prominent human rights defender Lev Ponomarev in Moscow, the detention of Emil Kurbedinov is the second time in two days that a human rights defender has been thrown behind bars over a Facebook post.

    “The similarities of these two cases are obvious, even if they are not directly related. Both men are prominent members of the human rights community and both have been deliberately targeted by Russian authorities for this very reason.

    “The authorities’ abuse of social media to target and harass activists is a cause of growing concern in Crimea. These politically-motivated charges must be dropped and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Background

    December 06, 2018

    Following a statement from the Regional Public Prosecutor for Puebla state, Jaime Huerta, in relation to the arrest of an individual allegedly connected to the killing of the environmental defender Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez, and the claim that the crime could be attributed to personal problems, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is essential that the authorities carry out a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation, including into those who could have ordered or planned the killing of Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez. If it fails to do so, the Public Prosecutor’s Office would be sending a message of impunity and encouraging further attacks against defenders of the land, territory and environment.”

    “Amnesty International urges the Mexican authorities to include within the line of investigation the possibility that the attack could be related to Manuel Gaspar’s work to defend the environment, before hastily speaking out about possible motives for his killing.”

    November 30, 2018

    The irregularities in the investigation and court proceedings relating to the murder of prominent human rights defender Berta Cáceres, combined with the fact all those who masterminded the crime have still not been identified, lead to the conclusion that neither the right to justice, the right to the truth, nor the right to reparation have been guaranteed in this emblematic case, Amnesty International said today.

    “By excluding the victims from the murder trial of human rights defender Berta Cáceres and by having the Public Prosecutor’s Office – an institution that has repeatedly been reported for violating their rights – act as their representative, the path to justice and truth has been blocked for the defender’s family” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    “Despite the ruling delivered today in this emblematic case, the Honduran justice system must demonstrate its commitment to the truth and identify all those who planned and ordered the murder of Berta Cáceres”

    November 26, 2018

    Responding to the news that a court in Chechnya has refused to release human rights defender Oyub Titiev on bail, Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher, said:

    “The decision not to grant bail to Oyub Titiev once again demonstrates the political motivation of the case against him. He has committed no crime, having been jailed on completely fabricated drug charges, and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

    “In today’s hearing, all the defence’s arguments were dismissed without any proper consideration while the court accepted every one of the prosecution’s objections to the bail request.

    “This case is an affront to justice which highlights the Chechen government’s intolerance of opposing views and is further evidence that human rights defenders jailed in Chechnya cannot rely on the tools of justice to help them.”

    Background

    The Shali City Court today rejected Oyub Titiev’s bail request. The judge stated that the defence did not present enough evidence to mitigate the previous grounds for his arrest.

    Pages

    Subscribe to Human Rights Defenders
    rights