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    August 19, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency.

    Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    On 19 August 2019, Evelyn was declared innocent.

    August 19, 2019
    Amnesty International spokespeople at the hearing and available for interview

    Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal against the conviction of Anni Lanz, a 73-year-old woman convicted and fined with 800 Swiss francs ($820 US) for giving a rough-sleeping frost-bitten Afghan asylum seeker a lift over the Italian border into Switzerland, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Migration, Maria Serrano, said:

    “Anni Lanz has done nothing wrong and committed no crime. By driving across the border to help a young and traumatized man who had been forced to sleep rough in sub-zero temperatures, she showed compassion, not criminality.

    “The conviction against Anni should be overturned and legislation in Switzerland amended so it no longer punishes good Samaritans for acts of solidarity.

    “Dragging her before the court on absurd charges makes a mockery of justice. Efforts by individuals and NGOs to help people seeking safety should be lauded and defended, not criminalised.”

    August 18, 2019

    In response to another march this afternoon where hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said:

    “The people of Hong Kong have once again demonstrated their resolve by taking part in a peaceful demonstration against a proposed extradition bill.

    “We saw how failure in political leadership inflamed tensions between protesters and the police in the past few months. The Hong Kong government must immediately withdraw the extradition law amendments, ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and allow an independent investigation into the use of force by Hong Kong police against protesters.”

    Spokespeople are available in English and Cantonese. Please contact Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236 lscholey@amnesty.ca

    August 16, 2019

    Ahead of a closed-door consultation on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the UN Security Council today, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

    “For the first time in decades the United Nations Security Council is taking up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Members of the council need to remember that their mandate is to protect international peace and security – and they should seek to resolve the situation in a way that puts the human rights of the people in this troubled region at its centre.

    “We reiterate our calls to the Indian government to act in accordance with international human rights law and standards towards people living in Jammu and Kashmir, including in relation to arrests and detentions of political opponents, and the rights to liberty and freedom of movement.

    “The actions of the Indian government have thrown ordinary people’s lives into turmoil, subjecting them to unnecessary pain and distress on top of the years of human rights violations they have already endured.

    August 16, 2019

    In response to the brutal assault on peaceful protesters who gathered in the Harare CBD earlier today in anticipation of the “16 August” national protests, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

    “The scenes in Harare today demonstrate just how far the authorities will go to repress dissent. Baton-wielding police unleashed a brutal assault on protesters, who had gathered to protest the socio-economic conditions which are causing suffering to so many in Zimbabwe.

    “The Zimbabwean authorities should know that the world is watching. The authorities must end the escalating crackdown on dissent and respect, protect, and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. There must be full accountability for these attacks, which left scores of people injured and shows the government’s contempt for human rights.

    August 16, 2019

    Spokespeople available to take media interviews

    Ahead of Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera’s next appearance in court on 19 August, when he will be required to enter a plea on charges that include leading organized crime and money laundering, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki, said:

    “The trial of Erick Kabendera is a travesty as the charges brought against him are politically motivated. The charges must be dropped and Kabendera immediately and unconditionally released. He must not be put through one more day of this judicial charade brought against him solely for doing his job.

    “Kabendera is a well-respected journalist whose investigations have shed light on the workings of Tanzania’s government both at home and abroad. The outrageous fabricated charges against him show the intolerance of the Tanzanian authorities’ to any criticism.”

    Background

    August 16, 2019

    Fears are mounting for the safety of Siham Sergiwa, a Libyan member of parliament, vocal in criticising the current offensive on Tripoli, who was abducted by armed gunmen in a night-time raid on her home in Benghazi one month ago, said Amnesty International.

    Dozens of masked gunmen wearing army attire stormed Siham Sergiwa’s home and seized her in the early hours of 17 July. Her husband, Ali, was shot in the leg and her 16-year-old son, Fadi, was badly beaten during the raid.

    “The horrific abduction of Siham Sergiwa illustrates the acute dangers facing publicly active women in Libya who dare to express criticism of militias. Siham Sergiwa appears to have come under attack as punishment for peacefully expressing her opinions and criticising the Libyan National Army’s offensive on Tripoli. One month since her abduction, the fears for her safety are growing by the day,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    August 16, 2019

    Spokespeople available for comment

    Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir must face justice for crimes under international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, that he allegedly committed in Darfur while in power, Amnesty International said ahead of the start of his trial on corruption charges on 18 August in Khartoum.

    Al-Bashir, who was deposed from power four months ago following sustained protests against his 30-year rule, will be charged with possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally. On May 13, Al-Bashir was also charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

    “While this trial is a positive step towards accountability for some of his alleged crimes, he remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people,” said Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki.

    August 14, 2019

    In a blow to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, the Supreme Court of India on 13 August refused to pass an order on lifting restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, including restoring communication services. However, instead of dismissing the petition, the court agreed to review the situation after two weeks citing security concerns. This extends the status quo on the blanket restrictions in Jammu & Kashmir.

    On the 8th day of total communication lockdown in Jammu & Kashmir, Amnesty International India expresses deep concern over the continued restrictions in the region, including people's right to freedom of movement, and freedom of expression and opinion. It also remains concerned about detention of political leaders and activists, and the impairement of the press to freely report on the current developments and act as a bridge for the voices from the region. 

    August 14, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes the federal government’s decision to cover the legal aid funding cuts to services for refugees and immigrants that were announced by the Government of Ontario in April 2019. A total of $25.7 million will be allocated to Ontario, as well as $1.16 million to British Columbia, and $20,000 to Manitoba. Legal aid allows newcomers and refugees to exercise their legal rights and help navigate extremely complex areas of the law, where they would not otherwise have the financial means to hire legal counsel.

    “This announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Justice David Lametti and Parliamentary Secretary Arif Virani is most welcome, and comes at a time when the immigration and refugee system – particularly in Ontario – is facing a real access to justice crisis,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner. “Such legal proceedings often have serious consequences on the lives of those involved, and can even entail questions of life and death. Nobody should face such high-stakes legal proceedings without access to legal counsel.”

    August 13, 2019

    By Teng Biao – Legal scholar and friend of Gao Zhisheng

    Gao Zhisheng is a prominent human rights lawyer in China. Over the years, he has been persecuted, kidnapped and sentenced to prison. In August 2017, he went missing again and has not been seen since.

    In 2004, I noticed an open letter to the National People’s Congress calling attention to the issue of Falun Gong, a religious group in China. By then, practitioners of Falun Gong had been subjected to large-scale persecutions for five years, but nobody dared to speak up for them. It was very courageous for a lawyer to openly speak about the issue, so I took note of his name: Gao Zhisheng.

    August 12, 2019

    Amnesty International, PEN Canada and Toronto Association for Democracy in China are pleased to announce the unveiling of the Liu Xiaobo Empty Chair Memorial on:

    Date:               Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 2 p.m.

    Location:        Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa

    Speakers:

    Setsuko Thurlow, recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons;

    Wang Juntao, political activist and friend of Liu during the 1989 pro-democracy movement;

    Ti‑Anna Wang, daughter of Wang Binzhang, political prisoner and founder of Chinese pro-democracy movement overseas;

    Senator Con Di Nino

    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Richard Stursberg, Chair, PEN Canada

    Winnie Ng, Chair, Toronto Association for Democracy in China

    August 12, 2019

    In response to police operations on Aug 11, where rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said: 

    “Hong Kong police have once again used tear gas and rubber bullets in a way that have fallen short of international standards. Firing at retreating protesters in confined areas where they had little time to leave goes against the purported objective of dispersing a crowd.” 

    According to media reports, one protester suffered from a ruptured eye in Tsim Sha Tsui after being shot by what appeared to be a bean bag projectile from the police. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and pepper ball projectiles were fired within a short range inside a train station in Kwai Fong and Taikoo against protesters, sometimes aiming at their heads and upper bodies.  

    August 08, 2019

    Amnesty International is proudly supporting a new project, Operation #NotForgotten, which will sponsor up to 200 refugees living on the isolated Nauru and Manus Islands. 

    The campaign is an initiative of Canada Caring Society and MOSAIC, which are working with partners in Australia to raise $3.3 million to bring 200 refugees to Canada. Hassan Al Kontar, an advocate and Syrian refugee who lived in the Kuala Lumpur airport for seven months and was detained in a Malaysian detention centre for two months, is also leading this project. Since moving to Vancouver, BC last year, Al Kontar has wished to help other refugees resettle in Canada.

    “For years, refugees and asylum seekers have been detained in desperate and inhumane conditions in Australia’s cruel offshore detention policy,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada. “This resettlement project will finally offer hope to those who have essentially been living in open air prisons, with little freedom to move and a lack of appropriate healthcare.”

    August 08, 2019

    More than 30 children, including two babies, and nearly 90 men and women stranded at sea in searing temperatures, must be immediately allowed to dock, said Amnesty International, as the stand-off between the Italian, Maltese and Spanish authorities and a NGO rescue ship enters its second week.

    Despite mounting concerns for their well-being, Italian and Maltese authorities are refusing a port where they could safely be disembarked. Spanish authorities have yet to formally request help from European institutions to mediate a solution.

    “After a week stranded at sea in blistering heat, these women, men and children who have risked their lives to escape human rights abuses in Libya should be immediately disembarked either in Malta or Italy,” said Maria Serrano, Amnesty International’s Senior Researcher on Migration.

    “Despite mounting concerns for the well-being of those on board, politicians are shamelessly breaching their responsibilities under international law by refusing to grant a safe port to people who could face torture if returned to Libya and who are exhausted and in need of protection and care.”

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