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Human Rights

    June 07, 2019

    Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019, the human rights organization announced today.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating people who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights. I can think of no better recipients this year than Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future climate strike movement,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “We are humbled and inspired by the determination with which youth activists across the world are challenging us all to confront the realities of the climate crisis. Every young person taking part in Fridays for Future embodies what it means to act on your conscience. They remind us that we are more powerful than we know and that we all have a role to play in protecting human rights against climate catastrophe.”

    June 06, 2019

    Marking the second anniversary of the start of the US-led Coalition’s military offensive in Raqqa, Syria, Amnesty International today launched “The Ruins of Liberation,” a multimedia storytelling site giving a behind-the-scenes look at its investigations in the bombed-out city.

    Panos photographer Andrea DiCenzo accompanied Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera on a visit to Raqqa in February 2019, documenting her investigation. Images by DiCenzo and Rovera are combined with audio commentary with Rovera giving an intimate description of the people she met and the reality she exposed. 

    June 06, 2019

    Today, Baskut Tuncak, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, said the government has “failed” to answer why it has not remediated massive levels of mercury contamination in a river near Grassy Narrows First Nation. Tuncak made his preliminary observations – which will be followed by a report about the government’s steps to protect human rights implicated by the management of hazardous wastes – following an eight-stop trip across Canada that included a visit with those who have been impacted by mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows First Nation.  

    In response, Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International Canada’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner, said:

    June 05, 2019

    Sudanese opposition activists today reported that dozens of bodies have been recovered from the river Nile in Khartoum, following a bloody crackdown on protests by security forces, and a surge in attacks by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a special military force allied to Sudan’s former government. 

    Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This should be a week of celebration in Khartoum, as residents mark the first Eid-al-Fitr since the end of Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year reign of terror. |nstead, as security forces roam the streets killing and attacking people, the holiday has become a time of fear, shock and grief.

    “Doctors in Khartoum have reported that as many as 100 people have been killed since Monday, when forces including RSF members swept into protest sites and opened fire on unarmed people. The death toll is now soaring as the RSF, the special military force which killed, raped and tortured thousands in Darfur, brings its murderous rampage to the capital. Reports that bodies have been dumped in the river demonstrate the utter depravity of these so-called security forces.

    June 03, 2019

    OTTAWA, June 3, 2019 – Responding to “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Amnesty International urges all governments in Canada to move beyond the piecemeal approach to ending the violence that has tragically failed First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, two-spirit people, families, and communities.

    The National Inquiry’s final report states, “Colonial violence, as well as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, has become embedded in everyday life – whether this is through interpersonal forms of violence, through institutions like the health care system and the justice system, or in the laws, policies and structures of Canadian society. The result has been that many Indigenous people have grown up normalized to violence, while Canadian society shows an appalling apathy to addressing the issue.”

    May 29, 2019

    OTTAWA – Today, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May publicly committed to participating in a federal leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality in the lead-up to the October 2019 federal election.

    The leaders announced their commitments at the launch of Up for Debate, a non-partisan campaign calling for women’s rights and gender equality to be front and centre in the federal election campaign.

    “We are thrilled that two party leaders have committed to a leaders’ debate,” said Paulette Senior, CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a member of the Up for Debate coalition. “We welcome the commitment made by the Bloc Québécois today to discussing women’s rights and gender equality during the election campaign. We hope they will strengthen their commitment by agreeing to participate in a leaders’ debate on these issues.”

    The Liberal and Conservative parties have not yet committed to participate in the Up for Debate campaign.

    May 28, 2019

    OTTAWA – Today, a coalition of prominent women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations in Canada has called on all federal political party leaders to participate in a national debate on women’s rights and gender equality.

    With less than five months until the fall election, supporters of the 2019 Up for Debate campaign are also urging federal party leaders to make real commitments to end poverty, end gender-based violence, and support women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations.

    May 27, 2019

    By Alex Neve      May. 22, 2019

    With only five sitting weeks to go, Parliamentarians face high expectations on bills on Indigenous languages and rights, environmental protection, and more.

    NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262 in 2016 and is still waiting for it to pass. It would set a framework for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

    There is an enormous amount of consequential human rights legislation approaching the parliamentary finish line. The time to get it across shrinks daily.

    May 23, 2019

    On Tuesday, Amnesty International launched the ‘Brazil for Everyone’ campaign, presenting its concerns and recommendations for guaranteeing, protecting and promoting human rights in the country five months after President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration began.

    The organisation’s positions have been addressed to Bolsonaro in an open letter that the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, intend to deliver to the president personally in Brasilia, where they will be seeking an audience with government representatives until Thursday 23 May. On Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a joint statement saying they were open to dialogue with Amnesty International.

    May 22, 2019

    Cyril Ramaphosa is due to be inaugurated as president of South Africa on 25 May 2019, nearly three weeks after his African National Congress (ANC) party’s election victory. Ahead of the inauguration, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said:

    “As his African National Congress prepares to lead the country for the next five years, Cyril Ramaphosa must place human rights at the centre of the government’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. This begins with ensuring justice for victims of the events in Marikana, who are still waiting for answers almost seven years on.

    “Cyril Ramaphosa should publicly commit to ensuring full respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of all South Africans – the principles on which the country was founded as enshrined in the bill of rights.

    “He should draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela who stood with human rights even when it was unpopular to do so, and did not shy away from calling out leaders who found themselves on the wrong side of humanity.”

    Background

    May 21, 2019

    On 21 May, a delegation comprising the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, will visit Brasilia, where they will attempt to deliver to President Bolsonaro and other representatives of the government a letter setting out these concerns, together with recommendations for guaranteeing, promoting and protecting human rights in the country.

    “Some of the measures adopted or proposed by this government over the past five months raise many concerns,” said Jurema Werneck. “They could increase the risk of homicides with firearms. They legitimise a public security policy based on the use of lethal force. They violate the rights of indigenous peoples and Quilombolas. They base drug policy on punitive and ineffective practices. They could increase monitoring of NGOs without justification. They deny victims of the military regime the right to truth, justice and reparations. All of this is accompanied by an overtly anti-human-rights rhetoric which only adds to Amnesty International’s concerns about the human rights situation in Brazil.”

    May 17, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to remove all countries from the Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) list. The DCO regime violates the rights of refugee protection claimants to a fair hearing by imposing shorter timelines and other measures for no reason other than the claimant’s country of origin. Furthermore, delays in accessing the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) for claimants from DCO countries have been found to be unconstitutional.

    In March 2019, the Federal Court struck down the distinction between the DCO and non-DCO claimants’ access to the PRRA. While DCO claimants were ineligible to apply for a PRRA for 36 months from the date of rejection of their claims, non-DCO refugee claimants were ineligible for 12 months after rejection of their claims. This difference in treatment was considered unconstitutional. Similarly, in July 2015, the Federal Court found that differential treatment in accessing the Refugee Appeal Division between DCO and non-DCO claimants was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    May 17, 2019

    A contemptible amendment to Iran’s code of criminal procedure could effectively strip detainees who are facing punishments such as the death penalty, life imprisonment and amputation, of the right to access a lawyer while they are under investigation, said Amnesty International.

    An analysis of the bill published by the organization today details how, if passed, the amended law would permit the prosecution to immediately deprive individuals arrested on “national security” and certain other serious criminal charges of access to a lawyer for 20 days, which could be extended to cover the whole investigation phase. In Iran, those charged with “national security” offences include human rights defenders, journalists and political dissidents targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights.

    May 17, 2019

    Responding to the news that lawmakers in Taiwan have passed a law that will see the island become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, effective from 24 May, Annie Huang, Acting Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said:

    “Taiwan has today made history in the fight for equality for LGBTI people. Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination. This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

    “We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.

    “We are filled with pride and joy that from next Friday same-sex couples in Taiwan will be able to marry and finally have their love and relationships recognized as equal under the law. But the Taiwanese government must not stop here; it needs to act to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identities and intersex status.”

    Background

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the UAE Federal Court’s verdict into the case of eight Lebanese men, all Shi’a Muslims, sentencing one to life in prison, two to ten years, and acquitting five others following a trial marred by due process and fair trial concerns, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial – such as having access to a lawyer – strips today’s verdict of any reliability or credibility.

    “The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims. These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men.

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