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Human Rights Defenders

    November 07, 2018

    Amnesty International Philippines Release

    Responding to news of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos gunned down by still unidentified men on 6 November, Amnesty International Philippines chairperson Ritz Lee Santos III said:

    “The killing of a human rights lawyer is a new low in the worsening culture of impunity in the Philippines, and yet another blow to the government’s already dismal human rights record.

    Ramos’s murder is all the more alarming, in the midst of the bloody ‘war on drugs’ by the government that has already claimed the lives of thousands of people. When human rights defenders are silenced for good, who else will come to the defense of the growing number of victims of human rights abuses?

    October 31, 2018

    Human rights defenders from across all corners of the world gathered this week in Paris for the Human Rights Defenders World Summit, to develop a plan of action for how to protect and promote the work of activists fighting for rights, 20 years on from the first UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

    After three days of discussions and strategy development spanning regional and global issues, environmental rights and women human rights defenders and the increasing attacks on human rights defenders everywhere, the momentum culminated in the presentation of a landmark action plan which will be presented to the UN in December.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who spoke at the opening ceremony said: "What human rights defenders teach us is that all of us can stand up for our rights and for the rights of others, in our neighbourhoods, in our countries and all over the world. We can change the world.”

    October 26, 2018

    The killing of the Rarámuri Indigenous human rights defender Julián Carrillo in the state of Chihuahua yesterday highlights yet again the lack of protection and inefficiency of the protective measures provided by the Mexican authorities to the Indigenous communities of the Sierra Tarahumara, Amnesty International said today.

    “Once again we have seen how, without changes which take into account the structural causes of the violence against human rights defenders, providing a police escort or a telephone is not enough to stop the wave of violence facing those who dare to speak out to defend their territory”, said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 23, 2018

    Responding to the decision of the National Criminal Court that the trial of those accused of the killing of Berta Cáceres should proceed with the Public Prosecutor's Office acting as representative for her family and for Gustavo Castro, the only witness to the killing, because their lawyers supposedly abandoned the trial, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, stated:

    “Throughout the investigation of the killing of Berta Cáceres, the family of the human rights defender and Gustavo Castro have repeatedly stated that the Public Prosecutor’s Office neither ensured they had genuine and full access to the case file and the evidence nor fulfilled its obligation to identify those suspected of being behind the killing.”

    “Despite this, to date the National Criminal Court has taken no action to ensure that the Public Prosecutor’s Office fulfils its obligation to give the lawyers access to the information they have requested. Faced with this situation, the lawyers lodged a petition calling for the judges hearing the case to be recused on grounds of bias.”  

    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.

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