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Human Rights

    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.”

    August 07, 2019

    Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.

    August 07, 2019

    After learning that Saeed Malekpour has returned to Canada following close to 11 years of unjust and unlawful imprisonment in Iran, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve said:

    “We are relieved and delighted to learn of Saeed Malekpour’s safe return to Canada after more than a decade in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Saeed’s resilient spirit in the face of torture, psychological abuse, forced confessions and unjust imprisonment has been truly remarkable.  His return home is testament as well to the courage and dedication of his sister, Maryam Malekpour, who diligently worked to shed light on his situation and tirelessly led the campaign for his freedom. Amnesty International Canada extends a warm welcome home to Saeed and wishes him and Maryam well in their long-awaited reunion.”

    Alex Neve further said:

    August 06, 2019

    Amnesty International will divest from fossil fuel companies in acknowledgement that investment in an industry whose products are the primary source of the climate crisis is at odds with the organization’s mission of protecting and championing human rights.

    The decision was taken at Amnesty’s highest decision-making forum - the Global Assembly – which is formed of delegates from around the world. The assembly also voted to take further steps to reduce the organization’s climate impact including by aiming to be totally carbon neutral by 2035, to slash air travel by a third and move towards holding more international meetings virtually.

    “Fossil fuel companies know that their business model is resulting in human suffering because of its lethal contribution to climate change. As the world’s largest human rights organization, we want to send a clear message that continued investment in coal, oil and natural gas companies is at odds with human rights, because of the direct link between their activities and climate disaster,” said Mwikali Muthiani, Chair of the International Board of Amnesty International.

    August 06, 2019

    A coalition of 12 Canadian civil society organizations (CSO) has written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expressing their concern that Canada has yet to complete its review of exports of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The review was announced over nine months ago, but the outcome has yet to be announced.

    The CSO coalition calls on all states, including Canada, to cease the sale or transfer of weapons to any government where there is risk that those weapons might be used in the conflict in Yemen. This conflict continues deteriorate, including ongoing attacks against the civilian population and grave violations of the rights of children.

    July 23, 2019
    Key to the house of Mohammad Abu Nasser's family in the former village of Tel al-Saba.

    Amnesty International marked the 71st anniversary of the Nakba with “70 + Years of Suffocation”,  an online showcase of Palestinian refugees living in the OPT, Lebanon and Jordan who have shared their reality and experiences of being “stateless”. Award winning photographer, Tanya Habjouqa, has taken pictures that weave a relationship with the interviews, giving the reader visual context. 

    For over 50 years, Israel has been confiscating Palestinian land and bulldozing Palestinian homes with complete impunity. These lands are being used to build illegal settlements to house Israeli citizens, while Palestinians become homeless. 

    As Israel continues to suffocate the existence of Palestinians by controlling most aspects of their daily and private lives while attempting to present a reality void of its inhumane treatment of Palestinians, it’s more crucial than ever that Palestinians, the oldest and largest refugee group in the world, have platforms to be heard. 

    July 12, 2019

    Responding to the announcement of thousands of raids planned for Sunday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Charanya Krishnaswami, the Advocacy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA said:

    "This announcement is an extension of President Trump’s relentless hostility to immigrants. It serves to encourage hate and discrimination toward immigrants and communities of color, creating a climate of fear for many people including those fearing racial profiling.

    "While it’s also concerning that we don’t know anything about what these plans will look like, it’s not unreasonable to be concerned that people facing deportation will not have adequate time or legal resources to protect themselves. Thousands of mixed-status families could be impacted, with U.S. citizen children at risk of being separated from their parents or guardians. A lack of due process in initial hearings could lead to the deportation of families and children who never had a meaningful chance to apply for relief, including asylum."

    July 12, 2019

    Release, Evacuate Detained Refugees and Migrants

    European Union foreign ministers gathering in Brussels on 15 July 2019, should issue a clear call to Libyan authorities to close their migrant detention centres, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) said today. The EU ministers should make a commitment on behalf of EU states to facilitate the evacuation of detainees to safe places, including outside of Libya and to EU member states.

    “Expressions of outrage over dire conditions and dangers to detainees amid fighting in Tripoli ring hollow without urgent life-saving measures to get people out of harm’s way,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “EU governments should offer concrete support to Libyan authorities to close all migrant detention centres and take immediate action to help evacuate those most vulnerable and at risk.”

    July 12, 2019

    This week, a group of 22 countries issued a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council expressing concern over the arbitrary detention, surveillance and other violations against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

    The statement calls on China to provide “meaningful access to Xinjiang for independent international observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights”.

    The record number of states standing up to China at the Council on their human rights record shows the mounting international concern over the mass detention of Uyghurs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang.

    The countries that signed the statement include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

    July 11, 2019

    Responding to the UN Human Rights Council voting in favour of a resolution to monitor and report on the critical human rights situation in the Philippines – including unlawful killings in the context of the “war on drugs” – Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said:

    “This vote provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration’s murderous ‘war on drugs’. It’s a crucial step towards justice and accountability.

    “The Philippines has failed to hold those responsible to account at home. The Human Rights Council resolution sends a clear message that the international community will not look the other way as extrajudicial executions and other serious violations continue to be committed with impunity.

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