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Human Rights

    January 13, 2021

    In response to the events of last week and in anticipation of more gatherings by white supremacists ahead of the inauguration, Amnesty International USA has sent a letter to 3,500 United States mayors and governors calling on them to protect people from armed groups and to denounce white supremacy.

    January 13, 2021

    Responding to the acquittal today of MP Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan and four others in the 2005 assassination of Tamil MP Joseph Pararajasingham, following an announcement by the Attorney General’s Office that it would be dropping the charges against the suspects, David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International, said: 

    “The collapse of this case marks yet another sorry milestone in the Sri Lankan authorities’ continued failure to ensure justice for crimes committed during the armed conflict. The Attorney General’s Office has not indicated any interest in re-opening the investigation into the murder.

    “Those aligned with the state must not continue to enjoy impunity for historic abuses. Without accountability, Sri Lanka will never be able to turn the page on this dark chapter. The authorities must immediately launch a new thorough, effective and impartial criminal investigation and bring those responsible for Joseph Pararajasingham’s murder to justice.  

    January 13, 2021

    Responding to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) shutting down access to social media services in the run up to the 14 January general election, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty Iinternational's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said: 

    “Amid concerns over threatening rhetoric from high-ranking government officials, use of violence and an escalating crackdown on political opposition, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society actors, it is alarming that the Ugandan authorities have suspended social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp and restricted people’s right to freedom of expression and access to information. 

    January 11, 2021

    Approximately 2,500 people, including 900 residents of temporary camp Lipa, remain without basic shelter in perilously cold conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina as authorities fail to provide adequate accommodation to migrants and asylum-seekers, and EU agencies continue to support short-term solutions.

    In a statement issued today, leading human rights organizations, Amnesty International, Jesuit Refugee Service Europe, Médecins du Monde Belgique and Refugee Rights Europe have called for immediate humanitarian support to address the current emergency as well as durable institutional solutions to meet the needs of people transiting through the country.

    “Accommodation is available to house most of the people currently sleeping rough in bitterly cold temperatures in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What is lacking is the political will to make that happen. The authorities at all levels must immediately provide suitable shelter and assistance to those in need,” said Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    January 11, 2021

    Amnesty International has released a new report highlighting ongoing and historic human rights violations at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, as detentions there enter their 20th year and as a new President prepares to enter the White House.  

    “This is about more than just the 40 people still held at Guantánamo – it is also about the crimes under international law committed over the past 19 years and the continuing lack of accountability for them. It is about the future, too, as we move towards the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and strive for enduring justice,” said Daphne Eviatar, Director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA.

    January 07, 2021

    In his speech, subsequent audio recording and tweets, President Trump continued to incite his supporters —leading to thousands storming and breaching the U.S. Capitol. In response, Amnesty International USA Interim Executive Director Bob Goodfellow issued the below statement:

    “The President’s embrace of white supremacist and violent groups has further fanned the flames of the chaos and violence we witnessed today, putting human rights and the rule of law at grave risk in the United States. All U.S. officials must respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, including to be free from violence, intimidation and racism.

    “Amnesty International works for a world where all those in power respect the law, meet their human rights obligations, and are held to account when failing to do so. Across the world, we have witnessed the dire consequences of government officials who spread false information and incite racist or political violence to stay in power. The world is watching, and so are our more than 10 million supporters and members.”

    January 06, 2021

    Ahead of the first of three federal executions scheduled to take place in 2021, with Lisa Montgomery facing execution on January 12, 2020, which would make her the first woman to be executed by the federal government in 67 years, Amnesty International USA's Interim Executive Director, Bob Goodfellow said:

    “President Donald Trump must grant clemency to those facing execution during the last days of his administration and President-Elect Joe Biden should end the use of the federal death penalty immediately upon taking office.

    “After a seventeen-year hiatus in federal executions, the Trump administration resumed federal executions this last year and has pursued far more executions on federal death row since reliable statistics began to be gathered in 1927. The cases of those selected for execution have been marked by arbitrariness, ineffective legal representation, racial bias, and, in violation of international law and standards, have involved people with severe mental and intellectual disabilities.

    January 06, 2021

    Today’s decision by the Magistrate’s Court in London to deny Julian Assange’s request for bail has rendered his continued detention arbitrary, said Amnesty International.

    “Today’s decision to refuse Julian Assange’s bail application renders his ongoing detention ‘arbitrary’, and compounds the fact that he has endured punishing conditions in high security detention at Belmarsh prison for more than a year,” said Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “Rather than finally going home with his loved ones and sleeping in his own bed for the first time in almost ten years, Julian Assange will be driven back to his solitary cell in a high security prison.”

    Julian Assange has been detained for more than year pending a decision on his extradition to the US. On Monday, a judge ruled that extradition to the US would be unlawful. After so long in detention the failure to grant him bail has rendered his detention arbitrary.

    January 06, 2021

    Responding to the arrests of around 50 Hong Kong opposition figures on Wednesday morning for violation of the city’s national security law, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said:

    “This shocking crackdown on Hong Kong’s political opposition – sweeping up candidates, activists and pollsters alike – is the starkest demonstration yet of how the national security law has been weaponized to punish anyone who dares to challenge the establishment.

    “This ruthless legislation gives the Beijing and Hong Kong authorities free rein to crush any dissenting views and puts all government critics at risk of imprisonment. Today’s arrests also illustrate how the broad scope of the law allows it to be applied in circumstances that do not qualify as genuine threats to national security.

    January 05, 2021

    The Israeli government must stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said Amnesty International today.

    On 23 December, the Israeli Health Ministry began the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Having already given initial jabs to more than a 10th of its population, Israel has been hailed as the country that has to date achieved the widest vaccination coverage in proportion to its population size. However, the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan so far covers only citizens of Israel, including Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank, and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. It excludes the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.

    January 05, 2021

    A military judge at Israel’s Ofer Military Court in the occupied West Bank is expected to give tomorrow his verdict against Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian activist who is facing politically motivated charges for his peaceful activism against Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements; some of the charges date back to 2010. Amnesty International fears that Issa Amro will be given a long prison sentence.

    Ahead of Issa Amro’s hearing, which is set to take place on 6 January 2021, Saleh Higazi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

    “The Israeli authorities must end their campaign of persecution against Palestinian activist Issa Amro, who is a prominent voice against Israel’s regime of discrimination and systematic human rights violations against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), particularly in Hebron.

    January 04, 2021

    Responding to the decision by the Magistrate’s Court in London not to approve the extradition of Julian Assange to the US where he would face a risk of ill-treatment in prison, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks, said:

    "We welcome the fact that Julian Assange will not be sent to the USA and that the court acknowledged that due to his health concerns, he would be at risk of ill-treatment in the US prison system. But the charges against him should never have been brought in the first place. The charges were politically-motivated, and the UK government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange.

    "The fact that the ruling is correct and saves Assange from extradition, does not absolve the UK from having engaged in this politically-motivated process at the behest of the USA and putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial. It has set a terrible precedent for which the US is responsible and the UK government is complicit."

    BACKGROUND

    December 28, 2020

    Responding to the sentencing of women human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months imprisonment following an unfair trial before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Heba Morayef, said: 

    “Loujain al-Hathloul is a brave human rights defender whose peaceful activism together with other brave Saudi activists has driven momentous social change in Saudi Arabia. This sentencing, while partially suspended, still shows the cruelty of the Saudi authorities towards one of the bravest women who dared to be vocal about her dreams of a better Saudi Arabia. 

    “With this deeply flawed trial and the continued relentless crackdown on activists and human rights defenders, Saudi Arabia has proven that its rhetoric on human rights reform is utterly hollow. 

    December 11, 2020

    Amnesty International welcomes the preliminary approval of the bill on the voluntary termination of pregnancy passed today by Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies, stressing that it is a landmark achievement for the recognition of the human rights of women, girls and others who can become pregnant. The bill will now pass to the Senate, which has an opportunity to make history by passing the law and bringing an end to clandestine abortions in the country.

    “This is an achievement of the women’s movement and a demand from different social groups who have never given up on the cause. The Senate cannot afford to turn its back on women once again and must press forward to pass the law, without further delay. Legal abortion is an imperative for social justice, for reproductive justice and for human rights,” said Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina.

    December 09, 2020

    As Airbnb prepares to go public in a multi-billion-dollar Initial Public Offering (IPO) it must withdraw listings of rental properties built illegally on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Amnesty International said today.

    The San Francisco-based online accommodation company has around 200 properties for rent in the illegal Israeli settlements that are at the heart of systematic human rights violations faced by Palestinians.

    Two years ago, Airbnb said it would remove accommodation in the settlements from its listings, before reversing its decision.

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