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    September 17, 2019

    Today, as Canada formally accedes to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) are once again calling on the Government of Canada to definitively end the export of Light Armored Vehicles (LAV) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    This request, previously expressed in two open letters addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asks Canada to honour the spirit and intent of the ATT, which is now legally binding under international law. University de Montréal law professor Daniel Turp has added his voice to those of the coalition’s member organizations, calling on the Government of Canada to terminate these exports to the Saudi Kingdom. If the transfers continue, he intends to personally take legal action. While accession to the ATT is a positive step, it must be supported by decisive action.

    WAR CRIMES

    September 16, 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 awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C., USA, while further events were held in cities around the world, honouring Fridays for Future activists who represent the movement.

    Upon receiving the award, Greta Thunberg said:

    “This award is for all of those millions of people, young people, around the world who together make up the movement called Fridays for Future. All these fearless youth, fighting for their future. A future they should be able to take for granted. But as it looks now, they cannot.

    “We, who together are the movement Fridays for Future, we are fighting for our lives. But not only that, we are also fighting for our future children and grandchildren, for future generations, for every single living being on earth, whose biosphere we share, whose biosphere we are stealing, whose biosphere we are ruining. We are fighting for everyone.”

    September 13, 2019

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and numerous reports by international human rights bodies have all documented the profound and tragic harms that have resulted from Canada’s colonial laws and policies. Ongoing adverse impacts include denial of Indigenous systems of governance, jurisdiction and laws; dispossession of lands, territories and resources; the ongoing tragedy of Indigenous lives brutally cut short; essential opportunities denied to Indigenous children and youth; and the lack of adequate financial and other assistance to maintain and revitalize Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages in the face of continued threats.

    All these bodies have called on federal and other governments to heal the harm and build positive relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Canada must act now to fully safeguard and implement the fundamental human rights and protections affirmed in the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    September 12, 2019

    (La version française suit)

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
    MEDIA RELEASE

    September 12, 2019

    Canadian organizations call on political leaders to respect dignity of refugees and migrants during federal election campaign

    Organizations and community leaders across Canada are calling on the leaders of federal political parties to respect the dignity of refugees and vulnerable migrants during the upcoming election campaign. Over 150 Canadian organizations from diverse sectors have signed an open letter.

    Sent to all federal parties in June, the letter was drafted by the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and The Canadian Council of Churches as an expression of the organizations’ concern about how refugees and migrants in Canada may be characterized during the 2019 federal election campaign. The letter calls on leaders to engage in discussions about migration in ways that recognize:

    September 11, 2019

    Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, has written a personal plea to more than 30,000 schools around the world today, including hundreds of school boards across Canada, urging them to allow children to take part in the unprecedented wave of global climate strikes planned for 20 and 27 September.

    In a letter sent to school-heads and school boards by Amnesty International’s national offices in Australia, Canada, Hungary, Spain, New Zealand and the UK, Kumi Naidoo said:

    “I believe that the cause for which these children are fighting is of such historic significance that I am writing to you today with a request to neither prevent nor punish your pupils from taking part in the global days of strikes planned for 20 and 27 September.

    “The climate emergency is the defining human rights issue for this generation of children. Its consequences will shape their lives in almost every way imaginable. The failure of most governments to act in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence is arguably the biggest inter-generational human rights violation in history.”

    September 10, 2019

    EDMONTON, AB – Amnesty International has sent an Open Letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, highlighting serious human rights concerns with his aggressive approach to defending the oil and gas industry from criticism, including plans to establish an “energy war room” and a public inquiry into the alleged foreign funding of groups who oppose or criticize energy developments in the province.

    The human rights organization is deeply concerned that Kenney’s proposed “Fight Back Strategy” undermines and violates a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law. Further, his approach exposes human rights defenders – particularly Indigenous, women, and environmental human rights defenders – to intimidation and threats.

    Apart from a call to abandon the Fight Back Strategy, Amnesty International urges Kenney to:

    Ensure that any initiatives to promote the oil and gas industry in Alberta are fully consistent with Alberta’s international human rights obligations and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    September 09, 2019

    Responding to reports of a Revolutionary Court’s decision on 7 September to hand four journalists and three labour rights activists between six and 18 years in prison and, in one case, 74 lashes on bogus national security charges, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said:

    “These outrageous sentences are just the latest to be meted out by Iran’s cruel justice system and expose the authorities’ complete disregard for journalists and workers’ rights. 

    “These individuals are blatantly being targeted and punished for their work defending human rights and for publicizing human rights violations. This disgraceful injustice must be reversed. We call on the Iranian authorities to quash these unjust verdicts and cruel sentences and immediately and unconditionally release all seven individuals.

    September 09, 2019

    The on-going uncertainty around Brexit poses serious human rights issues, Amnesty International said today.

    While Amnesty does not take a position on the Referendum result or whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, the human rights organization has pinpointed serious human rights issues.

    These include a potential shortage of access to food and medicine, as well as concerns over the future of EU citizens in the UK, the right to immigration and asylum, and the future of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

    Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

    “The reassurances from the Government to date have simply not been good enough. Deal or no deal, Brexit poses serious human rights concerns to UK residents.

    “The Government and politicians of all parties must do everything they can to ensure that the human rights of those living in the UK are protected and respected, not degraded or undermined.

    “We’re calling on the leaders of all parties to make a statement to this effect, making clear what they’ll do to ensure our concerns are met.”

    September 06, 2019

    Spokespeople are available for interviews

    The multiple new ways in which the authorities trampled on freedom of assembly and expression ahead of the Moscow City Duma (local parliament) election on 8 September marks a new, deeply disturbing crackdown on human rights in Russia, said Amnesty International today.

    “This summer, the authorities have done all they can to suppress human rights. In an atmosphere marked by a growing public discontent in both Moscow and across the country, they have not only used every trick in their book to persecute and intimidate a mounting chorus of dissent, they have gone way beyond the familiar script,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director.

    September 06, 2019

    Robert Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe for almost four decades, has died aged 95, leaving behind an indelible stain on his country’s human rights record, said Amnesty International.

    His early years as leader of Zimbabwe, following the transition from British colonial rule, saw some notable achievements through his heavy investment in social services. Areas including health and education saw dramatic improvements, with the country still enjoying one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However, he later eroded his own track record.

    During his 37 years in power, he presided over the brutal repression of political opponents and established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, while his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences.

    “While casting himself as the saviour of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe inflicted lasting damage upon its people and its reputation,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    September 06, 2019

    The Moroccan authorities must immediately release and drop all charges against journalist Hajar Raissouni, who has been accused of having an abortion and having sex outside of marriage, said Amnesty International ahead of her trial session on 9 September in Rabat. 

    Hajar Raissouni, who works for the independent daily newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum, was arrested on 31 August along with her fiancé Amin Rifaat, as they left a doctor’s office in Rabat. The doctor and two others working at the clinic were also arrested on suspicion of carrying out an abortion.

    “The arrest of Hajar Raissouni and four others is completely unjust and these allegations are an outrageous invasion of her privacy,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    September 05, 2019

    Following poet and activist Rita Wong’s release from prison on September 3, 2019, Amnesty International reiterates its call on the BC government and all governments across the country to take deliberate action to avoid unjustified criminalization of protest.

    In particular, the organization again expressed concern about the use of criminal contempt prosecutions against individuals accused with defying the court injunction against protests connected with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  

    September 05, 2019

    Responding to the news that Abdul Samad Amiri, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s acting director in Ghor province, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Samira Hamidi, said:

    “This brutal act is a war crime. Even as the Taliban claims to be pursuing peace, it continues to kill people in the most gruesome way. Abdul Samad Amiri devoted his life to standing up for the rights of others, those who have no one else to speak for them. Our thoughts are with Abdul Samad’s family and his brave colleagues at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    “This tragedy underscores the grave dangers that human rights defenders in Afghanistan face. Threatened by all sides in a conflict that continues to claim civilian lives daily, they are left defenceless. The Afghan government and the international community must provide them with the protection they desperately need and not abandon them.”

    Background

    September 05, 2019

    Seven years after the illegal detention and torture of Adrián Vásquez Lagunes at the hands of the Baja California State Police, authorities still have not compensated him or his family, said Amnesty International today.

    “The governor of Baja California has an opportunity to leave a legacy before he ends his term, ensuring that Adrián Vásquez and his family do not have to wait any longer for the justice they are owed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International documented and publicly denounced the case of Adrián Vásquez Lagunes when it occurred. He was detained by state police as he drove in Tijuana on 26 September 2012. During the 12 hours that he remained in police custody, he was subjected to threats, beatings, and near-asphyxiation – including by forcing water into his nose. Afterwards, police presented him to the media declaring that he was a known drug trafficker. Vásquez Lagunes spent three years in prison unjustly on false charges. He was released from prison in December 2015.

    September 04, 2019

    Responding to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement of an official withdrawal of the Extradition Law Amendment Bill, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: 

    “While the formal withdrawal of this dangerous bill, at long last, is welcome, this announcement cannot change the fact that the Hong Kong authorities have chosen to suppress protests in a grossly unlawful way that has seriously damaged the people’s trust and sense of legitimacy of the government.  

    "A thorough and independent investigation into unnecessary and excessive use of force by police at protests is now needed more than ever. We continue to call on all governments to suspend transfers of less lethal ‘crowd control’ equipment to Hong Kong until a full investigation is carried out and adequate safeguards are put in place. 

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