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Human Rights

    June 26, 2019
    Denmark to become tenth country in Europe to recognize that sex without consent is rape 

    Following the publication of a “Government agreement” committing itself to introduce consent-based rape legislation Amnesty International’s Women’s Rights Researcher, Anna Błuś, said:

    “This commitment by the new government to amend Danish law to recognize the simple truth that sex without consent is rape in law is a welcome if long-overdue, step forward. It is a testament to all the survivors who have spoken out and all the campaigners who have fought long and hard for change.

    “Together with the survivors campaigning for improved access to justice, we look forward to seeing the draft law and hope that the authorities also commit themselves to taking steps to challenge rape myths and gender stereotypes at all levels of society. This will require institutional and social change, as well as comprehensive sexuality and relationships education, including on sexual consent.

    June 26, 2019

    Myanmar authorities should immediately end an internet shutdown imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States since 21 June 2019, said Amnesty International today. The shutdown has created an information black hole in an area where the Myanmar military has committed serious violations – including war crimes – raising serious concerns about the safety of civilians. It is essential that the Myanmar authorities ensure the right to information in times of crisis.

    June 25, 2019

    Amnesty International has joined a legal case brought by two non-governmental organizations, Equality Now and WAVES, to challenge the Sierra Leonean government’s ban on pregnant girls attending mainstream schools and sitting exams, the organization said today.

    The announcement was made ahead of a hearing at the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice on 27 June 2019, where the case was initially filed in May 2018.

    “We at Amnesty International believe this ban clearly conflicts with the right to education without discrimination, according to international and regional standards,” said Lucy Claridge, Director of Strategic Litigation at Amnesty International.

    “Courts from South Africa, Zimbabwe to Colombia have already found that such bans violate the rights of women and girls to be treated equally and to receive education. This case represents the first time that a regional court in Africa has considered the issue. It therefore has the potential to impact the situation of pregnant girls outside of Sierra Leone and even beyond the ECOWAS community.”

    June 25, 2019

    Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, must immediately halt his plans to resume executions for at least 13 prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International is alarmed to learn from media reports that preparations are underway to execute death row prisoners as part of the so-called National Drug Eradication Week, from June 21 – July 1, 2019. The executions would be the first time Sri Lanka has implemented the death penalty since 1976.

    “We are dismayed by these reports that will see Sri Lanka surrender its positive record on the death penalty. Executions will not rid Sri Lanka of drug-related crime. They represent the failure to build a humane society where the protection of life is valued. The last thing that Sri Lanka needs right now is more death in the name of vengeance,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    June 25, 2019

    El Salvador’s new government must promote and implement transformative human rights changes that fulfill the nation’s international commitments, said Amnesty International today in a meeting with President Nayib Bukele, who repeatedly vowed to respect human rights.

    “We met with President Nayib Bukele to express to him our concerns about the grave human rights situation in El Salvador. We hope that his government will address these great challenges with determination and adopt without delay the changes the country needs to make human rights a reality,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    June 24, 2019

    Leaders in the Americas must move beyond stale political debate and strengthen their focus and commitment to human rights protections, said Amnesty International in an open letter to the heads of state attending the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Medellin, Colombia.

    “The leaders of the Americas must step up and overcome the grave challenges facing the region. This is the most dangerous place in the world for human rights defenders, particularly those standing for climate justice and the environment, and it is also the scene of two major global human rights crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    June 24, 2019

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately end ongoing harassment, intimidation and attacks against former member of parliament Osama Muhana al-Tamimi, who is known for his criticism of the government, Amnesty International said today.

    Over the course of the past two months, government agencies have repeatedly arbitrarily summoned al-Tamimi for questioning. Since 2012, the authorities have subjected al-Tamimi to a smear campaign by way of government-linked press publishing fabricated accusations against him. During this period, the authorities have refused to investigate a number of serious incidents targeting al-Tamimi’s businesses and personal safety.

    “Osama Muhana al-Tamimi is one of the few openly critical Sunni voices in Bahrain. His harassment comes as no surprise, and serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing, multi-faceted means the authorities have been resorting to, to silence any independent thinking in the Kingdom,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research.

    June 24, 2019

    We Canadian civil society organizations, namely, Amnesty International Canada, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam- Quebec, Project Ploughshares and the Rideau Institute, long active in the effort to strengthen Canadian controls on the export of military equipment, today applaud the Government of Canada’s formal announcement of this country’s accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty.

    As Minister Freeland herself stated, the ATT opened for signature in 2013 so this step by Canada is long overdue and most welcome. In particular we commend the Government of Canada for the legislative and regulatory changes to Canada’s export control regime to more effectively regulate Canada’s arms exports in accordance with the high global standards set out in the ATT.

    June 21, 2019

    Responding to news that five men known as the "Wolf Pack" have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape by Spain's Supreme Court, Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director of the European Regional Office said:

    “We are delighted that justice has finally prevailed in this horrific case and that the rights of the survivor have been upheld. But the journey to get here has been long, and caused the woman involved further unnecessary and avoidable suffering.

    “This case shows exactly why it’s so crucial for Spain’s Penal Code to be amended. Sex without consent is rape; it’s that simple. The assumption in law that a victim gives their consent because they have not resisted is deeply problematic and undermines access to justice, especially since “involuntary paralysis” or “freezing” has been recognized by experts as a common response to sexual assault.

    June 20, 2019

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

    June 20, 2019

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you, as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,1 in advance of the 2019 G20 Summit, to be held in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29. We are writing in response to media reports that you are seeking a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Summit and to share with you nine crucial human rights recommendations to press with President Xi if such a meeting does occur. More broadly, these are points that we urge you, your Ministers and all Canadian government officials to raise in meetings and other exchanges with Chinese counterparts, be it in connection with the G20 Summit or other opportunities over the coming weeks and months.

    June 19, 2019

    Responding to the release of the UN report on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which concludes that he was the victim of “an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under human rights law,” and that “there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “We call on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to immediately take up the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to launch an international follow-up criminal investigation. The UN report confirms that the steps taken to date by Saudi Arabia to ensure accountability are not only inadequate, but violate themselves human rights standards, both procedurally and substantively. 

    June 19, 2019

    AI USA Release

    Ten candidates in the 2020 presidential race – including the president– responded to  a questionnaire on human rights issues provided by Amnesty International USA. The candidates submitted responses on a range of domestic and international human rights issues including refugees and asylum-seekers, gun violence, lethal force by police, arms sales, LGBTI equality, women’s rights, free expression, and national security.

    June 17, 2019

    With human rights defenders increasingly under attack around the world, civil society organizations today welcomed the Government of Canada’s new guidelines aimed at strengthening its approach to ensuring the safety and security of these courageous activists as part of its feminist foreign policy. 

    Human rights defenders are often criminalized, targeted with smear campaigns, discredited, threatened, arbitrarily arrested, and face violence because they advocate for human rights. According to Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2018, 321 human rights defenders in 27 countries were targeted and killed for their work in 2018.  More than three-quarters of these were defending land, environmental or Indigenous peoples’ rights, often in the context of extractive industries and mega projects.  More than 80% of those killed had previously received a specific death threat.

    June 17, 2019

    When President Trump signed what has become known as the Muslim ban during his first week in office, he set into motion a series of events that continue to leave families in uncertainty and danger to this day, according to a new report by Amnesty International USA. In some cases, these families were cleared to come to the United States in late 2016 and early 2017, only to be stranded in countries where they face restrictive policies, increasingly hostile environments, and often lack the same rights as permanent residents or citizens.

    The new report, “The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us,” is based on nearly 50 interviews conducted by AIUSA with refugees currently living in Lebanon and Jordan. The report describes the desperate circumstances faced by families who continue to be locked in an impossible limbo because of discriminatory U.S. policies as they try to seek a safe new life and permanent home.

    June 14, 2019

    Spokespersons available to take media interviews

    Following an admission by Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) that they all met the country’s security chiefs on 2 June, and after receiving undisclosed advice from the Attorney General and the Head of the Judiciary, ordered the dispersal of peaceful protestors on 3 June, which “by mistake” killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Sarah Jackson said:

    “It is completely outrageous and unacceptable that what has now been confirmed to have been a carefully planned attack on sleeping protestors has in the same breath been reduced to a ‘mistake’.

    “The senseless killing of protestors must be stopped immediately, and those responsible for the bloodbath, including at command level, must be held fully accountable for their actions.

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