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Human Rights

    July 04, 2016
    By Tawanda Mutasah, Senior Director International Law and Policy at Amnesty International

    Ten years since it was first created the UN Human Rights Council is facing a stark moment of truth.  The credibility of the world’s top human rights body, which was set up to ensure that it is able to effectively address human rights violations without being undermined by geopolitics and competing national interests, is being called into question because of the abysmal track record of one of its members – Saudi Arabia - and the failure of other members to call it to account.

    Since it joined the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014 Saudi Arabia has carried out gross and systematic human rights violations both at home and in neighbouring Yemen.  

    It has consistently ranked as one of the world’s top executioners, has presided over a ruthless crackdown against peaceful dissent and human rights activism in Saudi Arabia and most recently lead a military coalition which stands accused of carrying out war crimes in Yemen.

    July 01, 2016

    A shocking increase of 135% in the number of people killed by police officers in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the run up to the Olympics lays bare the security services’ chilling disregard to the right of life, said Amnesty International today.

    According to the Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP), in the city of Rio de Janeiro alone, 40 people were killed by police officers on duty in the month of May: an increase of 135% compared to 17 during the same period in 2015. Across the State as a whole, the numbers rose from 44 to 84, an increase of 90%.

    "The soaring death count ahead of this major sporting event represents an epic failure on the part of the authorities to protect the most fundamental human right–the right to life,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International's national office in Brazil.

    “It is completely unacceptable that these numbers are increasing despite all the warnings and complaints of Rio inhabitants of the excessive use of force by police. The authorities must act immediately to rein in the worst excesses of the security forces, stem the cycle of violence, and ensure the right to life is assured.”

    June 29, 2016

    Saudi Arabia has committed “gross and systematic violations of human rights” abroad and at home, and used its position on the UN Human Rights Council to effectively obstruct justice for possible war crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement today, making a resounding call for the UN General Assembly to suspend the country’s membership of the world’s top human rights body.

    The groups are calling for Saudi Arabia to be stripped of its rights of membership in the Human Rights Council until it ends unlawful attacks by the military coalition it leads in Yemen and these are credibly and impartially investigated.

    June 29, 2016
    Alex Neve, Perseo Quiroz, Margaret Huang

     

    By: Margaret Huang, Alex Neve, Perseo Quiroz and Béatrice Vaugrante

    Prime Minister Trudeau is about to host his US and Mexican counterparts, President Obama and President Peña Nieto, at the “Three Amigos” North American Leaders’ Summit.  It is the tenth such Summit since George Bush, Vicente Fox and Paul Martin first gathered in Texas in 2005. 

    Past Summits have been dominated by trade, given that the initial linkage among our three nations came through the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Security related matters, particularly with respect to border control and cross-border traffic, have also figured prominently; through the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

    But a partnership built around trade, investment and security, without corresponding attention to human rights, has left a lop-sided North American relationship. 

    June 27, 2016

    Human rights must be a top priority during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, said Amnesty International in an Open Letter to United States President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The letter was shared with the leaders in advance of the June 29th Summit, providing recommendations on the protection of human rights related to migrants and refugees, trade and investment, Indigenous peoples,  women and girls, national and public security, climate change, and human rights defenders. 

    June 23, 2016

    The agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, signed today in Cuba by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is an historic step in efforts towards signing a peace deal between the two sides, Amnesty International said today.

    However, the agreement will only come fully into force after a peace deal is signed, most likely in the next few months. Nevertheless, today’s announcement brings ever closer the prospect of an end to a 50-year-old conflict marked by crimes under international law and serious human rights violations and abuses and by the failure to bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility in such crimes.

    The agreement sets out the mechanisms by which the FARC will demobilize and disarm- to be completed within 180 days after the signing of a peace agreement – as well as the steps the authorities will take to guarantee the security of FARC combatants during their demobilization, including measures to combat paramilitary groups (referred to as criminal gangs by the government), which continue to operate despite their supposed demobilization a decade ago.

    June 10, 2016

    The Venezuelan authorities’ stubborn denial over the country’s current humanitarian crisis, coupled with their refusal to ask for international aid, are putting the lives and rights of millions of people at serious risk, Amnesty International said as it concluded a visit to the country.

    An Amnesty International delegation spoke to public officials, NGOs, human rights defenders, lawyers and survivors of human rights violations in Caracas, Guarenas and the state of Táchira, on the border with Colombia. People spoke of the chronic lack of essential food staples and medicines as the country faces one of the worst economic crises in decades.

    “Stubborn politics are seriously affecting millions of lives. The lethal combination of severe food and medicine shortages coupled with sky-high crime rates, persistent human rights violations and ill-conceived policies that focus on trying to keep people quiet instead of responding to their desperate calls for help are a recipe for an epic catastrophe,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 07, 2016

    A surge in killings of people with albinism, whose body parts are used in ritual practices, has exposed a systematic failure of policing in Malawi and left this vulnerable group living in fear, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    The report, “We are not animals to be hunted or sold”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi”, exposes how the wave of violent attacks against people with albinism have increased sharply over the last two years, with four people, including a baby, murdered in April 2016 alone.

    “The unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families who are living in a state of constant fear for their lives,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    May 05, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes the Swaziland Government’s preparedness to amend the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 (STA) as it had committed to do in March 2012 at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    Amnesty International has consistently called for the STA to be repealed or immediately amended, because it is an inherently flawed piece of legislation which is inconsistent with Swaziland’s obligations under international and regional human rights law as well as the Swaziland Constitution.

    In 2009, Amnesty International in association with the International Bar Association found several provisions of the STA to be incompatible with Swaziland’s human rights obligations. 

    While states have a duty to protect all those under its jurisdiction, including by taking measures to prevent and protect against attacks on civilians, there is also an absolute necessity to ensure that all anti-terrorism measures are implemented in accordance with international human rights law.  

    May 05, 2016

    Responding to Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Maj-Gen Jim Muhwezi’s ban on live broadcast media coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, Amnesty International issued the following quote.

    “The Ugandan government’s decision to ban live broadcast coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, although manifestly unlawful, fits the now depressingly familiar pattern of restricting freedom of expression in a bid to muzzle opposition voices,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The ban announced by Minister Muhwezi aims to restrict completely lawful activities and this is unacceptable. It has no basis in Ugandan law, and is in blatant violation of the myriad regional and international human rights standards to which Uganda is bound.”

    For further information contact 

    Aden Seaton or Sarah French 613-744-7667 ext 263

    December 10, 2015
     
        READ REPORT

    The change in government following the October 2015 federal election must now become the catalyst for a new approach and strengthened commitment to improving Canada’s domestic and international human rights record, Amnesty International said with the release of its 2016 Human Rights Agenda for Canada: Defending Rights for All today, International Human Rights Day.

    December 08, 2015

    The effort to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, the harrowing process of forced deportation to Somalia, the struggle for fresh water in Gaza and the battle against addition to sugar in Central America are all explored in four excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s twenty first annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.  

    In the national print category the winner this year is Stephanie Nolen for her feature article “If I send him, he may die. But if I keep him here, he will die.” about the attempt to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, published in The Globe and Mail on 29 August 2015. 

    October 02, 2015

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper;
    Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair;
    Justin Trudeau;
    Elizabeth May; and
    Gilles Duceppe

    Dear Prime Minister Harper, Mr. Mulclair, Mr. Trudeau, Ms. May, and Mr. Duceppe:

    We are writing to you regarding Canada’s human rights record in light of the July 2015 release of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations on the country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was the first time the Committee has examined Canada’s record in a decade. As in other reviews of Canada by UN bodies, including the Human Rights Council, these Concluding Observations raise numerous serious concerns about critical violations of human rights in this country.

    July 02, 2015

    A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.

    Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.

    "The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    June 18, 2015

    •        Amnesty International is partnering with edX, a global leader in online education founded by Harvard University and MIT, to deliver a new series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
    •        The free online courses will be designed by human rights and education experts from across Amnesty International
    •        They will provide a high quality, cutting-edge learning experience, capitalizing on the latest technology revolution in education, MOOCs
    •        This will be the first MOOC ever provided by Amnesty International

    Amnesty International and edX are partnering together to offer a brand new series of Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – the first of which will be made available to learners later this year, the organizations announced today.

    A MOOC is a massive open online course:

    It is massive in that it is not limited by the four walls of a school building; hundreds of thousands of people can take a MOOC at one time.

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