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    October 26, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed to Giyas Ibrahimov, a 22-year-old youth activist detained after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shocking assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Giyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute travesty of justice. He was arrested simply for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The authorities now want him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on these fabricated charges,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It is deeply disturbing to see the lengths to which Azerbaijani authorities will go to silence their critics. We are calling on them to quash this sentence based on trumped-up charges and immediately release Giyas Ibrahimov, and to carry out an independent investigation into the torture and other ill-treatment he has been subjected to.”

    October 26, 2016

    US-led Coalition forces carrying out air strikes in Syria must conduct thorough investigations into reports of civilian casualties from its operations and disclose their findings, said Amnesty International. Eleven Coalition attacks examined by the organization appear to have killed some 300 civilians during two years of strikes targeting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    So far the US authorities have provided no response to a memorandum Amnesty International sent to the US Department of Defense on 28 September 2016 to raise questions about the conduct of Coalition forces in Syria. The memorandum compiles and analyzes information from various sources, including eyewitnesses to attacks, which suggests that US Central Command (CENTCOM), which directs Coalition forces in Syria, may have failed to take necessary precautions to spare civilians and carried out unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.

    “We fear the US-led Coalition is significantly underestimating the harm caused to civilians in its operations in Syria,” said Lynn Maalouf Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 19, 2016

    We, the undersigned organisations, recognise that the Turkish government has the right and responsibility to investigate the violent events of the July 2016 coup attempt and to bring all those responsible to justice.  We also recognise that the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup is the type of exceptional circumstance in which a government could legitimately invoke a state of emergency but still has to comply with their human rights obligations. 

    We are however increasingly concerned that the far-reaching, almost unlimited discretionary powers exercised by the Turkish authorities during the first three months of the state of emergency – now extended for a further three months - endanger the general principles of rule of law and human rights safeguards.

    We call on the Government of Turkey to revoke the measures under the state of emergency, the application of which, in practice is incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations.

    October 10, 2016

    Hold Security Forces, Attackers on All Sides to Account for October 2015 Abuses

    (Dakar, October 10, 2016) – Authorities in Guinea should take concrete and immediate steps to ensure justice for the victims and the families of those who were shot, raped, or beaten to death during the 2015 presidential election period, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today in a joint letter to President Alpha Condé.

    Guinea’s authorities should ensure that members of the security forces and mobs linked to both the ruling party and opposition groups are held accountable for the killing of 12 people, several rapes, and the looting of several markets in Conakry, the capital, during the election period. To date, no one has been brought to justice in relation to these crimes.

    October 05, 2016

    Fresh protests in Ethiopia since dozens of protesters were killed in a stampede at a religious festival on 2 October underline the need for the Ethiopian government to ensure a full investigation into how the protest was handled, said Amnesty International today.

    Protests have broken out in the capital Addis Ababa, as well as in the Oromia and Amhara regions, since the deadly stampede at a large-scale traditional ceremony in the town of Bishoftu on Sunday. Protest groups blame the tragedy on security agents firing live bullets and tear gas into the massive crowd assembled in a confined space, a charge the government has denied.

    “We have documented multiple complaints of police using excessive force, including lethal force, against largely peaceful protesters since demonstrations began in the Oromia region in November last year,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    September 30, 2016

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest outburst, where he likened himself to Hitler and vowed to “slaughter” three million people, Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “With this latest outburst, President Duterte has sunk to new depths. Governments - both in the region and around the world – should speak out immediately and condemn these outrageous statements. The words President Duterte used are not just extremely distasteful, they are extremely dangerous. They serve no discernible purpose other than to put more lives at risk.

    “Since coming to power, there has been a surge of state-sanctioned violence and unlawful killings across the Philippines. Instead of stopping and condemning these human rights violations, and ensuring those responsible are held to account, he has vowed to escalate them. Mass killing under President Duterte must end.”

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    September 23, 2016

    As the trial begins today of Ahmed H., a Syrian man charged with committing an “act of terror” during clashes with Hungarian border guards on the Serb-Hungarian border last year, an Amnesty International team is in court and available for interviews. Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher, Todor Gordos said today:

    “The use of anti-terror powers to target an asylum seeker involved in clashes on the border is an absurd and chilling demonstration of Hungary’s sledgehammer response to the refugee crisis.”

    “I witnessed the alleged “mass attack” by migrants at the Roszke border and what we documented were chaotic and desperate scenes, sporadic acts of violence and the excessive use of force by police and border guards.”

    ·         Spokespeople on the ground and available for interview

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    September 22, 2016
    (Nairobi, September 22, 2016) – Sudanese authorities have yet to provide justice to victims of a violent crackdown on anti-austerity protesters in Khartoum in September 2013, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.   “Although it seems like Sudan has succeeded in sweeping the horrific violence of September 2013 under the carpet, victims’ families still demand justice,” said Mosaad Mohamed Ali, Executive director at ACJPS “The UN Human Rights Council, currently holding a session on Sudan, should press Sudan to hold those responsible to account for the appalling bloodshed on the streets of Khartoum and other towns, and provide meaningful justice to victims of killings, assaults and other abuses.”   Sudanese authorities responded with a violent crackdown to large-scale protests that swept the country following the announcement of austerity measures on September 22, 2013, with security forces and armed men allied to them using live ammunition, tear gas and batons.  
    September 21, 2016

    Responding to news that the government of Turkey has postponed the visit of Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe said:

    “The postponement this visit is a setback for those concerned about human rights in Turkey. Following the failed coup, credible evidence emerged that detainees were being subjected to beatings and torture in official and unofficial detention centres. There have also been allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many places of detention across the country.”

    “Whilst official statements that Turkey has a policy of zero tolerance policy toward torture are welcome, these need to be backed up with greater transparency. Despite pledges by the Turkish authorities to allow independent international monitors to visit all detainees in the places they are being held, so far only one body - the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) - has been granted such access.”

    September 16, 2016

    In reaction to the High Court of Swaziland today declaring sections of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) unconstitutional, Amnesty International said.

    “The court ruling is a victory for human rights, especially for freedom of expression and association,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “For far too long, the Swazi authorities have used these oppressive laws to silence opponents of the government.”

    “Today’s landmark judgement, although a positive step forward, is a painful reminder of the injustices that have been meted out by the Swazi authorities through the use of these laws in the past.”

    Background

    Freedom of expression is protected in the Swazi Constitution, as well as in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – international instruments that Swaziland is a party to.

    Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act)

    September 14, 2016

    US President Barack Obama should place himself on the right side of history by pardoning whistleblower Edward Snowden, who faces the possibility of decades in prison for speaking out to defend human rights, said Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch and a host of other organizations and individuals as they launched a global petition today.

    Ahead of an upcoming Oliver Stone film about Snowden’s whistleblowing and exile in Russia in 2013, the campaign is calling for a presidential pardon for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor before President Obama leaves office.

    September 14, 2016

    As Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and attend the United Nations General Assembly, the international community must maintain pressure on Myanmar’s authorities to improve the country’s human rights record, Amnesty International said today.

    Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip to the US comes as the new civilian-led government enters its sixth month in office. In this time, it has taken some steps to address human rights but still faces challenges bequeathed by a half a century of military rule.

    “We have seen encouraging changes as Myanmar eases out from under the shadow of military rule. But there is still a lot more to do to ensure a decisive break with the country’s ugly past of human rights violations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “For almost a quarter of a century, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on human rights in Myanmar. It is important that the same happens this year. The gains made so far have to be consolidated and built upon, not left incomplete or eroded.”

    September 13, 2016

    As the latest session of the Human Rights Council Session opens today Amnesty International is calling on states not to support anything short of an independent, investigation into the conflict in Yemen. Last year states failed to support such a move, instead adopting a watered-down resolution spearheaded by Saudi Arabia supporting the newly established national commission as the mechanism to investigate violations. So far this commission’s working methods suggest it will struggle to either establish truth or facilitate justice.

    September 12, 2016

    Security forces are using arbitrary and excessive force in response to protests in Jammu and Kashmir, violating international standards and worsening the human rights crisis in the state, Amnesty International India said today.

    At least 78 people, including two security force personnel, have been killed in the state since 8 July, following protests and violent clashes after the killing of a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group. Some demonstrators have thrown stones and attacked police stations, government buildings and politicians’ homes. Security force personnel have fired live ammunition, tear gas and pellets from pump action shotguns.

    “Pellet-firing shotguns have injured and blinded peaceful protestors and bystanders,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India. “Children have been hit by pellets from these shotguns while sitting inside their homes.”

    “These weapons are inherently indiscriminate and always carry the risk of causing serious injury to people who are not engaging in violence. There is simply no proper way to use these weapons, and they should be prohibited.”

    September 02, 2016

    With widespread reports of the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s repressive regime is unlikely to change, said Amnesty International.

    “Islam Karimov’s death marks the end of an era in Uzbekistan, but almost certainly not of the pattern of grave human rights abuses. His successor is likely to come from Karimov’s closest circle, where dissenting minds have never been tolerated,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “During his 27-year long rule, rights and freedoms were profoundly disregarded, with any dissent brutally crushed, and torture and arbitrary detentions became integral to the country’s justice system. Hundreds died in the Andizhan massacre alone, and the perpetrators were never held to account. Many thousands have ended up in prisons following unfair trials. Any semblance of justice in the country will require deep political changes and a new, principled approach from Uzbekistan’s international partners, something which has been totally lacking in recent years.”

     

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