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    August 22, 2019

    Responding to the news of the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

    “The responsibility to stop the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks now lies squarely with President Bolsonaro and his government. They must change their disastrous policy of opening up the rainforest for destruction, which is what has paved the way for this current crisis.

    “Earlier this year Amnesty International documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near Indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondônia state where many of the fires are raging.

    August 22, 2019
    Spokespeople available for interviews

    With the threat of returns to Myanmar once again looming over Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International warned that Rakhine State remains unsafe while those responsible for atrocities continue to evade justice. Action from the Canadian government is urged as the needs of refugees pivot from shorter-term humanitarian response, to sustained human rights protections.

    This Sunday marks two years since the Myanmar military launched operations in Rakhine State which forced more than 740,000 Rohingya women, men and children to flee their homes and villages. The brutal campaign was marked by widespread atrocities, which a UN investigation team has said amount to crimes against humanity and likely genocide.

    August 22, 2019

    Responding to the decision of the Communications and Information Ministry to shut down mobile internet in Papua and West Papua provinces, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

    “This blanket internet blackout is an appalling attack on people’s right to freedom of expression in Papua and West Papua. This is not a time for censorship. These tensions are not an excuse to prevent people from sharing information and peacefully speaking their mind. In addition, the decision would also prevent people from documenting and sharing evidence of abuses committed by security forces, just as authorities are sending more security forces to the region.

    “The immediate priority for the authorities should be to launch a thorough and effective investigation into the root cause of the unrest: allegations of discrimination and unlawful use of force against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang in East Java over the weekend. Further restricting the exercise of human rights must not be the answer.”

    Background

    August 21, 2019

    Attackers who use phishing scams to target human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are developing increasingly sophisticated techniques to infiltrate their accounts and evade digital security tools, according to new research published by Amnesty Tech. 

    The organization highlighted three key tactics attackers are employing to ensnare people who take extra steps to secure their accounts online. These include asking users to reset the password on their Google accounts; tricking them into authorizing apps which purport to “secure” their Outlook accounts; and abusing legitimate authentication process apps to infiltrate accounts.

    “Human rights defenders across MENA need to be on high alert. Even as they get better at using digital tools to secure their accounts, attackers are developing sophisticated new ways to get past these tools,” said Claudio Guarnieri, Senior Technologist, Amnesty Tech.

    August 20, 2019

    Reacting to reports that Planned Parenthood will withdraw from Title X, the federal family planning program, rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that restricts what health providers can say about abortion, Tarah Demant, director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program at Amnesty International USA said:

    “The Trump administration's restrictions on Title X trample on sexual and reproductive rights, putting the lives of all pregnant people at significant risk, especially low-income women. Over four million people in the United States who depend on health care will be impacted because of these cruel policies aimed at Planned Parenthood.

    “The only people who should be making decisions about their pregnancies are those who are pregnant or can become pregnant. Any and all policies by a government should support and respect a pregnant persons’ reproductive autonomy and basic human rights - any policies that refuse to do that are illegitimate and unlawful.” 

    Background:

    August 19, 2019

    15 August 2019

    The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
    Minister of Health
    The Honourable James Carr 
    Minister of International Trade Diversification
    The Honourable David Lametti
    Minister of Justice and Attorney-General

    Re: Kattenburg v. Canada (Attorney General) – Israeli settlement products – Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement

    Dear Ministers Petitpas Taylor, Carr and Lametti:

    We write with an urgent request that the Canadian government not appeal the recent, important Federal Court decision – in Kattenburg v. Canada (Attorney General) – that goods imported into Canada from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must not be identified as “Products of Israel.” The ruling provides important human rights safeguards which we call on the government to accept and respect.

    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. 

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