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Human Rights

    June 10, 2020

    With ever-growing numbers of infections and deaths from COVID-19, the removal of cumulative data on COVID-19 from Ministry of Health announcements is extremely serious, points out Amnesty International Brazil. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been warning about the lack of adequate measures by the federal government to tackle the crisis. We do not consider concealing data and facts an appropriate response to get through this difficult time.

    In May, Amnesty International Brazil, together with 35 other rights organizations and social movements, launched the Our Lives Matter campaign. The objective of the campaign is for the Brazilian authorities to provide adequate and inclusive responses to address the COVID-19 pandemic without leaving vulnerable segments of the population behind.

    June 10, 2020

    Responding to news of a Rohingya boat intercepted off the coast of Langkawi and the subsequent detention of the 269 refugees on board, Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said: 

    “Allowing the Rohingya to disembark was a humane step in upholding their human rights. Boats carrying people in distress must always be allowed to land safely. They must not be pushed away, threatened or intimidated. 

    “It is terrible that a woman’s body was found on board – it’s clear this boat was adrift and failing to find a safe shore until then. For one person, this rescue came too late.

    “Authorities must also respect the refugees’ right to health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Malaysian government has been detaining migrants and refugees in immigration detention centres that have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. We are concerned that this latest group of refugees will also be moved to these centres, placing them at a high risk of contracting the virus and keeping the pandemic alive.

    June 10, 2020

    OTTAWA – As COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax across Canada, remote and Indigenous communities are developing their own solutions specific to their needs and concerns.  

    As Amnesty International highlights in a new interactive project, Building Immunity in Community, different communities face different threats and challenges and they are developing effective solutions based on the needs of the people and the resources at hand. Many communities need better healthcare equipment and services, many have concerns about over-crowded housing, and other people are checking in with elders, sharing food and traditional medicines, and creating emergency plans. 

    June 04, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    K1A 0A2

    June 3, 2020

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter, on behalf of Amnesty International’s supporters across Canada and also reflective of the concerns of the entire global movement of Amnesty International, to urge you to take a much stronger position of unequivocal opposition to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex a large part of the West Bank, land that is part of Occupied Palestinian Territory.  

    Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to finalize this in the coming weeks. Such a step would violate the UN Charter, jus cogens norms of international law, and international humanitarian legal obligations. It would certainly stand as well to deepen and exacerbate decades of severe and entrenched human rights violations against Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is urgent and vital for Canada to express firm, explicit and public condemnation of this move.

    June 04, 2020

    Responding to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passing a law that makes it illegal to insult China’s national anthem, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said: 

    “People who ‘insult’ China’s national anthem could now be jailed for up to three years. But today the Hong Kong authorities have again insulted the right to freedom of expression in their latest attempt to criminalize peaceful dissent.

    “People’s right to express their different feelings about national anthems and other state symbols is well protected by international human rights law. This law’s broad and subjective provisions leave it open to wide interpretation and abuse.

    “The passing of this odious bill is an ominous sign for the future of human rights in Hong Kong. With China’s ruthless national security law looming, the city’s rights and freedoms are under greater threat than ever before.”

    Background

    June 02, 2020

    Sex workers around the world have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and governments are not doing enough to protect them. 

    On International Sex Workers’ Day we spoke to Kate McGrew, an artist, activist and sex worker living in Ireland, about what lockdown has been like. Kate is the Director of SWAI (Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland), which has set up a hardship fund to support sex workers during the pandemic. She is also a co-convener of ICRSE (International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe).  

    What are Ireland’s laws around sex work?

    In 2017 Ireland introduced a law which criminalised the purchase of sex. Legislation which criminalises the buyer rather than the seller is sometimes called the “Nordic Model”. There are other laws in Ireland containing provisions which put sex workers at risk; for example, it is illegal to work in pairs or in groups.  

    June 02, 2020

    OTTAWA – The Canadian government must advance consistent and globally-coordinated action to reverse China’s deeply problematic decision to apply its national security laws to Hong Kong. This troubling move poses extremely dangerous implications for the people of Hong Kong, said several human rights defenders and federal politicians in a press conference today.

    Last week, the Canadian government released a joint statement – along with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia – condemning the new legislation. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, said “it is now vital to deepen and expand on this joint declaration of concern, through consistent and forceful diplomacy with China, with other governments around the world, and in all available multilateral fora.”  

    June 02, 2020

    Today, on International Sex Workers’ Day, Amnesty International and the Network of Women Sex Workers from Latin America and the Caribbean (RedTraSex) call on states in the Americas to take immediate measures to guarantee the rights of women who engage in sex work in the context of COVID-19. In particular, they must guarantee access to adequate health services without discrimination, access to social security and protection from human rights violations, such as torture, which in this case is gender-based, committed by the security forces in the context of states of emergency.

    “Cisgender and transgender women who engage in sex work are systematically marginalized, stigmatized and face multiple barriers when exercising their rights. There is concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating this inequality. States in the Americas have an obligation to protect all women, regardless of their occupation, from the violence and insecurity caused by gender-based discrimination,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    June 02, 2020

    Responding to remarks by President Donald Trump today in the Rose Garden, Ernest Coverson, the End Gun Violence campaign manager at Amnesty International USA said:

    “The violence that can no longer be ignored is the violence committed against Black lives by the police. The real disgrace is the anti-Black racism of the Trump administration.The President swore an oath to the nation to protect all of its people - not just those he deems worthy. 

    “The time for justice has passed for George Floyd, his children, and his loved ones. The possibility for justice was taken away the day that he was killed. All that remains is accountability - and accountability has been absent from an administration that continues to fan the flames of hate. 

    June 01, 2020

    Responding to the authorities’ banning of Hong Kong’s annual June Fourth Tiananmen anniversary vigil for the first time in 30 years due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and South East Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:   

    “COVID-19 must not be used as an excuse to stifle freedom of expression. Hong Kong authorities should help facilitate a socially distanced Tiananmen vigil rather than outright banning it. On June Fourth, of all days, people in Hong Kong must be allowed to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

    “In recent weeks we have seen the Hong Kong police repeatedly clamp down on peaceful protests with arbitrary mass arrests and excessive force – including the use of tear gas and pepper pellets. By deeming this important memorial event ‘illegal’, the police have again needlessly exacerbated rising tensions when thousands of people simply want to light a candle for those who lost their lives during the horrific events of 4 June, 1989.

    May 29, 2020

    The shocking death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has once again highlighted that anti-Black racism in policing across the United States is an entrenched, unrelenting human rights crisis that needs concerted action at all levels of government and society. 

    The number of Black people in the US who have been killed, profiled, harassed or otherwise targeted by law enforcement including police, security guards and by private citizens continues to grow at a staggering rate. Further, the number of Black women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people who die from racist, sexist, and transphobic violence is an alarming cause for concern. Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade are the latest on this often-omitted list.

    “The intersections of race, gender, and sexuality play a key role in who is remembered, who is not, and whose deaths spark widespread outrage,” said Daniella Barreto, Digital Activism Coordinator with Amnesty International Canada. “Any Black person murdered is a tragedy that warrants action.”

    May 27, 2020

    Responding to a May 25 video showing a Minneapolis police officer using his knee to pin down a man by his neck until he was unable to breathe, Kristina Roth, the senior program officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA said:

    “No person should ever wake up wondering if that day will be the day that a police officer ends their life, yet people of color, particularly black people, across the country live with that painful and traumatic reality. The actions of this Minneapolis police officer have terrorized people who have already lost so much.

    May 27, 2020

    Responding to the Hong Kong police’s heavy-handed response to today’s protests against the proposed national anthem and national security laws, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and South East Asia Joshua Rosenzweig said:

    “Today’s excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the police to disperse protesters once again exposes the authorities’ utter disregard for human rights on the streets of Hong Kong. Mass arrests in entirely peaceful assemblies show that the Hong Kong government is targeting anyone exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “As rights in Hong Kong come under ever increasing threat, the national anthem bill is another attempt to make peaceful dissent a crime in the city. Under this vaguely worded and repressive law, people in Hong Kong could face up to three years in prison if they are deemed to have ‘insulted’ or ‘misused’ China’s national anthem.

    May 22, 2020

    Responding to the Chinese government’s proposal to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and South East Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:

    “China routinely abuses its own national security framework as a pretext to target human rights activists and stamp out all forms of dissent. This dangerous proposed law sends the clearest message yet that it is eager to do the same in Hong Kong, and as soon as possible.

    “The Hong Kong government has progressively embraced the mainland’s vague and all-encompassing definition of ‘national security’ to restrict freedom of association, expression and the right to peaceful assembly. This attempt to bulldoze through repressive security regulations poses a quasi-existential threat to the rule of law in Hong Kong and is an ominous moment for human rights in the city.

    May 20, 2020

    GENEVA (20 May 2020) – UN experts today called on Canada to secure the urgent release and repatriation of a five-year-old orphaned girl being held in inhuman conditions in north-eastern Syria’s overcrowded Al-Hol camp.

    “Canada has an obligation to intervene in favour of its nationals abroad, particularly if there are reasonable grounds to believe that their non-derogable human rights have been violated,” said the experts.

    “Within this context, special care must be taken for children, particularly if their parents are dead,” the experts emphasized.

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic in play, and thus in a time of new vulnerabilities for children, the return of this orphaned child to Canada and reunion with her family/relatives is even more urgent.” 

    After her parents – suspected of affiliation with ISIL – were reportedly killed in a 2019 airstrike, she was taken to Al-Hol camp, which houses an estimated 70,000 people, including more than 40,000 children.

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